How do you get an apprenticeship?

The idea of developing a career through learning a trade has existed for thousands of years, and is as important today as it has always been. Skilled tradespeople are in high demand throughout New Zealand and all over the world, and if an enjoyable and rewarding career sounds good to you, an apprenticeship is a great way to get started. 

There are literally hundreds of types of apprenticeships available in New Zealand, with these generally being organised by what are called Industry Training Organisations or ITOs. These ITOs work with employers to ensure the training given to apprentices is relevant and they ensure all training and learning is at the required national standard.    

An apprenticeship is a relationship between you as an apprentice (student), an employer (your mentor) and a training organisation, because when you do an apprenticeship, you combine study with practical work experience. Apprentices need to complete a set number of hours of theory and practice before becoming qualified and registered in a particular trade.  

How long will my apprenticeship take?

Apprenticeships take from less than two years to complete to more than four, depending on the trade being undertaken. The really good news is that apprentices are earning wages every week while they are learning their trade, and these wages just get better when the apprenticeship is successfully completed. 

New Zealand has around 45,000 apprentices being trained at any time, with nearly 30% of apprenticeships being done by females.  Just over a quarter of apprenticeships are happening in Auckland, while other big regions for apprenticeships are Canterbury, Wellington, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. New Zealand Apprenticeships is the national programme covering apprenticeships. 

Important criteria for New Zealand Apprenticeships: 

  • an apprentice must be employed in the occupation they are training for 
  • apprentices along with the employer and the organisation arranging the training must agree to a training plan for the apprenticeship 
  • all New Zealand Apprenticeships will result in (at least) a level 4 New Zealand qualification comprising a minimum of 120 credits  
  • completing a New Zealand Apprenticeship will ensure an apprentice will be ‘work competent’ for the occupation in which they have been training. 

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Steps to starting your apprenticeship?

First you have to decide what industry interests you
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What NCEA credits does an apprentice need?  

Many apprenticeships don’t have any NCEA requirements, but most training organisations recommend studying NCEA maths and English to at least Level 1 or 2.  This is because employers need staff who are able to apply a range of solutions to sometimes complex situations, and so a good understanding of maths, English, physics and science is a real advantage to get you started as an apprentice today. 

If you want to leave school at 16 and haven’t completed NCEA Level 1, some polytechnic institutes offer introductory level courses starting at Level 1 or 2. Other names for these are entry-level, pre-trade or foundation courses. 

See more about Pre-Trade Training to get you started on the path to an apprenticeship. 

These courses don’t guarantee an apprenticeship at the end. You still need to find an employer willing to take on an apprentice. 

More info: 

Find out more about in-work training