Apprenticeships! What Does Apprenticeship Mean?

Apprenticeships frequently focus on the practical side of coursework. Students first learn the theory of a particular field and then progress to working as an apprentice or assistant to complete their studies.

Apprenticeships may follow completion of studies or be interspersed between theoretical studies to develop experience related to the field of study. Learn more about what an apprenticeship is, what it involves, why this practice is vital and remuneration linked with apprenticeships.

More about the apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are traditionally associated with trades like studying to be an electrician or plumber. They can also be linked with legal and accounting professions but different terminology is applied to describe the practical learning requirements.

With trades, students will be required to pass the required theoretical exams at different points in their academic careers. Theoretical learning will then be needed to complete the study period.

Apprenticeships may be provided or the student will need to find a business owner or government programme, and request an apprenticeship with them to complete their studies.

Practical experience is accompanied by the signing of a legal contract, indicating a mutual commitment to completion of the apprenticeship. Employers need pre-approval for the apprenticeship to be valid. Employers may or may not guarantee full-time employment once this period has been completed.

Following or during theoretical learning, the apprentice will acquire practical experience at the employer’s business. Practical experience will involve months or a year or more of experience to demonstrate that the apprentice understands what they are doing, and can safely and competently implement theoretical knowledge.

Regulatory bodies will then require the apprentice to write a trade test to demonstrate their competency levels. On passing relevant trade tests, the apprentice will then advance to being a fully-fledged professional in their chosen trade.

Passing such tests will also mean that your name is added to a national or international database of experts in the specific trade.

Relevance of apprenticeships

Globally, apprenticeships are required to develop practical skills linked with specific trades. Many countries around the world experience shortages in trade skills from time to time. Creating a formal framework, where standards and policies are generated to manage the quality of these skills is vital.

Formal apprenticeship frameworks also maintain databases to monitor the number of tradespeople in specific areas. Where shortages are found, the government can step in to offer bursaries to build numbers to overcome these barriers.

Should you be interested in pursuing a specific trade, speak to businessmen and women who work in that trade. Find out as much as you can before signing up to learn a specific skill.

Explore the internet to determine what colleges and other resources are available to support your career choice. Remember that trade can also lead to you opening your own business one day and being responsible for the employment of qualified employees and mentoring apprentices.

People may be inclined to look at trades as being sub-optimum in relation to university degrees, but this is misleading. Often tradespeople become successful business owners and employ people with degrees to manage their finances, HR and other operations.

Where do you access practical learning as an apprentice?

Some apprenticeships don’t even require prior learning because you can learn and gain practical experience while on the job. You may not be paid much or at all in the beginning, but don’t be afraid to explore your options.

Source potential employers over the internet or read local and national newspapers to find this type of employment. Employers place adverts in newspapers, local municipalities and community centers. You can also get the available apprenticeship updates on our site apprenticeship section.

Apprentices must typically be 15 years or older to legally enter into this type of labour contract in most countries. Speak to potential employers, and when you find one who is interested, ensure you sign a formal contract to make your labour relationship legal.

A contract may include the potential to make changes or to end the apprenticeship by mutual agreement. Rather enter into the contract with the intention to make a long-lasting commitment though, as this will demonstrate good faith.

Your contract should also outline the details of your agreement. Elements such as who pays for studies, what happens if you fail, and the duration of the contract should be made clear from the start. No part of the contract should unduly benefit one party or the other.

Colleges and local businesses often work together to draw up contracts. Regulatory authorities are also often in place to monitor such agreements, so you can be assured of protection, as can your employer.

As an apprentice with a signed contract, you will be regarded as an employee. You will be able to learn the required practical skills and gain experience to become a qualified tradesperson.

Help from your local college or government authority is always available to clarify further queries or details you may have regarding your relationship. Permanent employment may or may not form part of the contract, but this is something you can discuss once you have passed your trade tests.

What level of remuneration can you expect?

Apprenticeships don’t offer much in the way of pay. These labour contracts are potentially mutually beneficial dependent on the contract signed but lean more in favour of upskilling you as the apprentice.

Your employer will gain benefits of low paid labour only once your training, knowledge and experience become valuable to them. Until your training begins to reap benefits, your employer is the one who is helping you to become proficient in your career.

Do the work you are asked to do, and do it well. Gain your employer’s trust while under their supervision, and you may land yourself a permanent job when you are qualified. Until then, remember that an apprenticeship forms part of your studies.

Prove your worth in any sector ranging from a trade to engineering, law, art, design, retail or education. Add value and you will reap the benefits as you progress in your preferred career path. Work hard and you can gain a permanent job after your first apprenticeship tests. From there, you can decide whether you wish to aim for a higher qualification.

We are here to provide you an overview of all the latest internships, bursaries, apprenticeships, graduate programmes, learnerships and jobs opportunities that are available for application in South Africa.

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