School leavers have 'so many options' besides university

CAREER GOALS: Apprentice beauty therapist Megan Armstrong says undertaking an apprenticeship offers her many career options.
CAREER GOALS: Apprentice beauty therapist Megan Armstrong says undertaking an apprenticeship offers her many career options.

For Megan Armstrong, undertaking an apprenticeship is opening a world of career options.

Ms Armstrong, an apprentice at Wagga’s Ella Bache, always wanted to be a beauty therapist.

Becoming an apprentice will give her the formal qualifications she needs to be a beauty therapist, but it also sets her on a path that could one day see her teaching at TAFE.

“You can do so many things without an ATAR,” Ms Armstrong said.

Year 12 graduates who did not receive a University Admissions Centre offer “needn’t stress”, according to the Apprenticeship Support Australia organisation’s regional manager for western NSW, Peter Rickard.

“There are hundreds of apprenticeships and traineeships touching almost every industry – and many young people don’t know the breadth of career possibilities they afford – from health, financial services, childcare, baking, aeroskills, and engineering, to more traditional trades such as carpentry and electrical work,” he said.

“It’s commonly perceived that university has benefits over apprenticeships and traineeships when, in fact, research shows that in terms of employability, earnings and relevance of skills to the contemporary workplace, one isn’t better than the other with graduate outcomes.

“There are huge advantages in doing an apprenticeship or traineeship like getting paid while you learn and avoiding accumulating study debt like HECS and HELP.

“It’s also important to remember that Australia is suffering from a chronic skills shortage, of which the bulk can be filled with a trade or traineeship qualification, meaning their skills are in high demand and it’s easier for young people to secure employment with strong growth prospects.

“If you’ve missed out on a UAC offer or you don’t get your ideal preference, you still have hundreds of training options and experiences to choose from.”

Director of production at TAFE’s Wagga campus, Guy Kemshal-Bell, said employers were “screaming out” for talented young people to undertake apprenticeships.

Mr Kemshal-Bell said apprenticeships offered young people options from owning their own business one day to travelling and working around the world.

“On a Caribbean cruise, I went down to the onboard hairdresser and she was an Australian,” he said.

“There really are so many options.

“If you are an apprentice, you are earning from day one.”

Mr Kemshal-Bell said the cost of studying at TAFE was substantially less than at university and employers often subsidised, or even met the whole cost of, an apprentice’s course.