Most people, at some stage in their careers, question whether they’ve made the right career choice. Statistically speaking almost everyone will change jobs several times throughout their careers.
Long gone are the days of getting a job straight out of school and staying there until you retire. However, changing careers entirely is something that needs to be seriously considered before taking the plunge. If your career involves sitting behind a desk, you’ve probably contemplated doing something with your hands, while those with outdoor careers will have thought that a career in an office sounds appealing. One option for office workers looking to change careers is to pursue a mature age or Adult Apprenticeship.
If you are 25 years of age or over when you start an apprenticeship you are considered an Adult Apprentice. Anyone can do an apprenticeship, so why is there any differentiation in terms of age? Because there is a level of understanding that people 25 and over may be married, have children to care for, are paying off a mortgage, and have other commitments that perhaps an apprentice straight out of school may not have yet. There are many pros and cons to consider if you’re over 25 years of age and contemplating applying for an apprenticeship.
Be Prepared for Less Money
If you’re currently employed, chances are you will have to accept that you’re probably not going to be as well paid in the short term. How much you earn as a first year apprentice will depend on the trade and which state you live in. However, most apprentices make around minimum wage, which may be tough for those who already have existing financial commitments. You will need to calculate carefully how you and your family might be affected by earning less money for several years, and if it is sustainable.
Adult apprentices are entitled to a government initiative called Support for Adult Apprentices*. Should you be eligible, you are entitled to supplement payments either directly to you, or to your employer to subsidise your slightly higher wages. The payment is set at $150 per week for the first year (up to a maximum of $7,800 per annum) and $100 per week in the second year (up to a maximum of $5,200 per annum). If you’re a part-time apprentice, the weekly rate is $75 per week for 24 months, and $50 per week for the next 24 months. Also, your employer is entitled to a one off payment of $4,000 at the end of the first year.
You can find out more information at the federal government’s Australian Apprenticeships website.
It Could Take a While to Complete
Apprenticeships usually take between 3-4 years to complete, which is a combination of on the job training and classroom studies. Any new apprentice, not just mature aged apprentices, need to ask themselves it they are willing to put themselves through a lengthy training process. it’s also worth considering which type of course is the best for you, depending on the level qualification you’re after. The reward is a nationally recognised qualification that has the potential to turn into a rewarding and lucrative career.
As an Adult Apprentice, you can negotiate with you employer an individual training program that could cut the length of time it takes to be qualified. Depending on the industry and the training requirements, employers and Adult Apprentices can discuss with a training provider how the relevant training can be delivered in a shorter time period, while still meeting educational goals and the needs of the industry. Also, if you already have skills from your previous employment that are transferrable, you may be entitled to Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) credit, resulting in a shorter training period to become a qualified tradesman.
You May Have to Swallow Your Pride
As an Adult Apprentice, there is a good chance you will be taking your instructions from someone younger than you. For some this may be hard to take, while it could also prove uncomfortable for the younger person giving orders to an older employee. Depending on the trade, you may be asked to complete tasks that you haven’t considered that may be beneath what you’ve experienced in the past. Menial tasks are part and parcel of an apprenticeship, particular in the early years, and being asked to complete tasks by someone younger can be a dent to the pride for some. However, adult apprentices tend to be more mature, so in most instances this isn’t a problem given the reasons for starting the apprenticeship in the first place.
You Can be an Asset to the Business
Because you have life experiences, a certain level of maturity and professional skills from past employment, a prospective employer may see you as an asset to the company. You could be given tasks and responsibilities younger apprentices wouldn’t be trusted with, accelerating your rate of learning. Mature age apprentices tend to be more stable in their private lives, and have been through the challenges that 16-24 year olds face. While a younger apprentice make take some time to become accustomed to a work environment, an Adult Apprentice can hit the ground running and be productive immediately.
When considering applying for an apprenticeship as an adult, you need to consider the consequences, particular if you have family and financial commitments. If you’ve simply had a bad day at the office, it might be best to give it some time before making any substantial career change decisions. However, if you’re mind is made up, and you’ve given it the serious consideration such a decision deserves, then an Adult Apprenticeship may provide you and your family with the long term financial security you’re longing for, not to mention your own personal career satisfaction.
*Please note, this incentive is due to expire on July 1, 2015.