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Mature Age Apprenticeships - Earn As You Learn

At South West TAFE, we offer a variety of learning pathways to our prospective students. One of these pathways is mature age apprenticeships. A common misconception is that apprenticeships are only for fresh school leavers, but South West TAFE is here to offer educational and professional growth to a diverse body of people.
Engineer Training Female Apprentice On Milling

What is a mature age apprenticeship student?

An apprenticeship is often referred to as “earn as you learn”. This means students can work part-time or full-time in a trade of their choice, acquiring their Certificate III or higher through paid work experience combined with guided training. Apprenticeships generally last around 2-4 years and conclude with the student receiving a nationally recognised qualification and trade papers, becoming a qualified tradesperson. Mature age apprenticeships are apprenticeships offered to mature age students. A mature age student is any student over the age of 21. As of 2016, there was a significant increase in mature age apprentices, with 28% in trades compared with 8% in 1996, proving that apprenticeships are diversifying with time.

How do mature age apprenticeships work?

Mature age apprenticeships can begin at any time in the year, with the core requirement being that students find a business to employ them as an apprentice. This can be a little daunting, but with a bit of research and help, you can easily start on your journey to becoming an apprentice. South West TAFE offers many different career pathways and apprenticeships in areas including:

Commercial Cookery

Building & Construction

Barbering & Hairdressing



Mature age apprenticeships aren’t just a way to break into a new industry, they are also fantastic opportunities for upskilling and formal recognition within your current employment. This can be an even more viable option in the event where students may have recognised prior learning or current competency higher than an entry-level standard, resulting in a reduced course time through accelerated completion. By becoming a qualified tradesperson, you solidify your skillset in the workplace and guarantee more job opportunities in the future.

There are plenty of resources available to help you on your search for an employer with helpful places such as:

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can always look through the local newspaper to find relevant local businesses, have a chat with some friends and family, visit local businesses, or phone in and register with the Skills and Job Centre. There are heaps of options when it comes to getting an apprenticeship and plenty of opportunities!

From there, it’s simply a matter of contacting the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to register your training contract with SWTAFE and officially start your apprenticeship.

male carpenter with female apprentice measuring wood

Mature age apprenticeship opportunities are plentiful

There are many incentives for a mature age student to pursue an apprenticeship, the obvious one being earning as you learn, but how much does an apprentice actually earn? This can vary, depending on your industry, but generally, apprentice wages range from $850 to $2100 a week. According to Adam Farmer, Employment Services Manager for Macarthur Group Training, some employers have been seen “paying above the award rate to attract and retain mature-age apprentices” (Mature Age Apprenticeships) due to the national skill shortages. This means that mature age students are in high demand and employers are willing to accommodate. Working as an apprentice includes all the benefits of ordinary employment with award rates, approved enterprise agreements, national minimum wage, and national employment standards.

adult apprenticeship wages

Women in Trades

South West TAFE strives for a diverse and inclusive education environment and encourages the growth of female participation in Australia’s trade industry. In a period of national skill shortages, Australia now turns to an often underrepresented demographic to bolster our numbers with increased interest and encouragement towards women in trade. In 2017 it was recorded that of Australia’s 300,000 apprentices, only around 80,000 were female. South West TAFE hopes to help more women enter into the trade industry and improve these figures by providing more support and opportunities. UNSW research recognises the importance of women in the industry, with their increased participation in the trade industry having a projected potential for $25 billion economic growth in Australia over the next 10 years. It has also been found by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency that a diverse workforce “encourages collaboration, creative employment and a healthier industry”

South West TAFE apprentices Keisha Brabham and Alana Knowles are both students who have shown excellence as female representatives for South West TAFE. They have both already achieved awards in their first year, at South West TAFE’s 2020 annual Trades Awards night. South West TAFE also takes pride in guiding Shona McGuigan in her successful position as the first female plumbing apprentice at Cri-tech, where she has achieved the Victorian Training Awards Apprentice of the Year title.

With these successful and determined women leading the front in increasing female representation in trades, they prove that as proud Australians all it takes is giving it a go. We only hope to see future generations of women follow in their footsteps.

Mature age apprenticeship incentives

The pursuit of education can be a difficult decision for every prospective student, with many considering the cost and return of investing in a qualification. Through apprenticeships, you are already offered an incentive with compensation for your time. You are being invested in by your chosen employer, with clear value placed on your growth. This bodes well for your future worker-employer relationship and is a fantastic indication of your future employment opportunities.

Apprenticeships are also a rewarding pursuit when considering job security, as they are generally offered for high demand trades. As an apprentice, you will be trained in universal skill sets, allowing you to become a more flexible and desirable employee. According to research by NCVER in 2019, 87.7% of apprentices in trades were employed after training.

Mature age students are remarkable candidates for apprenticeship positions due to - just that - their maturity. Through considerable life experience, mature age students have already acquired some of the essential skills employers are looking for. Mature age students offer better attitudes, passion, and certainty. With a greater sense of responsibility, accountability to their jobs, and professional skills from past employment, mature apprentices are generally considered more trustworthy. This makes employers more likely to offer mature age apprentices more opportunities and accelerated learning in the workplace.

Additional to job security, guaranteed wages, and a higher potential for growth, mature age apprentices are also offered various forms of financial support. These incentives benefit both apprentices and employers and are listed under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program. These include but are not limited to:

Mature Aged Workers Commencement Incentive

This incentive is available to mature age apprenticeships over the age of 45+ commencing their apprenticeship. The value for this incentive is $750.

Mature Aged Worker Completion Incentive

This incentive is available to the employers of mature age apprentices who successfully complete a Certificate II or higher. The value for this incentive is $750.

Support for Adult Australian Apprentices

This incentive is available to employers of mature age apprentices employed in an occupation included in the National Skills Needs List. The student must be working towards a Certificate III or IV in their apprenticeship. The value of this incentive is $4000.

Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment

This payment is available to both employers and apprentices. This incentivises employers to increase their apprentice intake for occupations experiencing national skills shortages. This payment totals at a value of $2000 to eligible Australian apprentices, with $1,000 received at the 12-month mark and then the final $1,000 payment received upon completion.

The occupations this payment is offered to include:

  • Carpenters and Joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Hairdressers
  • Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
  • Bricklayers and Stonemasons
  • Plasterers
  • Bakers and Pastry Cooks
  • Vehicle Painters
  • Wall and Floor Tilers
  • Arborists

Trade Support Loans

These are income-contingent loans of up to $21,542 over the duration of your apprenticeships. Only specific qualifications are eligible for these loans and the student must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. These loans are available to assist with apprenticeship trade materials and costs.

Get started

Altogether, mature age apprenticeships are a great investment, whether it be for career progression or a complete overhaul of your professional ambitions. Mature age apprenticeships are diverse and inclusive opportunities heavily incentivised and supported by the Australian government. Employers are flocking to hire well-seasoned mature age apprentices with proven work-ethics and guaranteed life experience. The inclusive spirit behind mature age apprenticeships extends to all, with female apprentices on the rise, and the older Australian student body ready to fulfil the current national skill demand. If you would like to find more information, we have a full list of our apprenticeships located on our Apprenticeships & Traineeships page. We hope to help you start on your lucrative future as an Australian apprentice here at South West TAFE and look forward to seeing your progress!