What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is more than a job. It’s a three-way agreement between you, your employer and an apprenticeship provider (such as an ITO), where they support you to get qualified in your trade.

Why do an apprenticeship?

As an apprentice, you’ll be paid to work towards your qualification. That means you’ll do practical assessments at work, which your boss will sign off on to say you’ve successfully learned those skills. You’ll also do some off-job training to learn more about the theory behind your trade. Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship, you’ll be fully qualified in your trade.


If you just have a job … If you have an apprenticeship …
You sign a contract with your employer You sign a contract with your employer AND an apprenticeship provider
You’ll be paid to work You’ll be paid to work towards your qualification
You’ll do work your boss needs you to do Your boss and apprenticeship provider will make sure what you’re learning at work includes the skills you need to get qualified
You won’t be working towards your qualification, so your work won’t be formally assessed You’ll do practical assessments at work, where your ITO will check you can do certain tasks, and you’ll do some off-job training in a classroom
You could work in your job for decades and never get qualified You’ll be fully qualified when you finish your apprenticeship

You can find out more about the difference between a job and an apprenticeship on our website.

What is an ITO?

An Industry Training Organisation provides apprenticeships and other workplace training. Your ITO depends on your trade:

  • BCITO (building and construction)
  • MITO (automotive)
  • Competenz (refrigeration and air conditioning, mechanical engineering)
  • Skills (electrical, plumbing and gasfitting)
  • Connexis (infrastructure)
  • HITO (hairdressing)
  • Primary ITO (horticulture and landscaping)
  • ServiceIQ (hospitality)

Does my pre-trades course count towards an apprenticeship?

Your pre-trades course isn’t part of your apprenticeship, but it will help prepare you for it.

In your pre-trades course, you’ll learn the theory behind your trade and start building your skills.

Some of the theories you learn in pre-trades can later count towards the bookwork that all apprentices have to complete to get qualified. This depends on your trade though, so ask your apprenticeship provider whether this is the case for you.

When I graduate, will I get an apprenticeship automatically?

No. To become an apprentice, you’ll first need an employer to agree to help you get qualified.

Taking on an apprentice is a big decision for an employer. It means committing to working with you for several years, and investing money and time into training you to get qualified. That means they’ll usually want to get to know you before they offer you an apprenticeship.

Remember, as an MPTT trainee you’re not on your own. We’ll help you find your first job, and let you know what employers look for in an apprentice.

How do I find an apprenticeship?

Most trainees start by getting a job after their pre-trades course. An employer will usually want to have you work for them on a trial basis for the first few months. This means both you and your new boss can get to know each other before committing to a long-term working relationship – and possibly an apprenticeship.

Not every employer offers apprenticeships, so when you apply for the job, it’s a good idea to ask if they’d consider giving you an apprenticeship down the track. That way, your boss will know you’re looking to get qualified.

Remember, as an MPTT trainee you’re not on your own. If your employer won’t offer you an apprenticeship, get in touch with your MPTT navigator to see how we can help.

How do I know if an employer will give me an apprenticeship?

The best way is to ask them directly. Not all employers provide apprenticeships, because they might not have the resources needed to support you to get qualified. So before you take on a job, you should make sure your employer knows you don’t just want to be a labourer.

Your job interview is a good time to let your future boss know about your plans for the future, so they know from the start that your goal is to get an apprenticeship.

Remember, an apprenticeship is something you earn. Your boss will usually want to get to know you before they commit to helping you get qualified. Most trainees start by getting a job, which gives them the chance to show the employer they’d make a good apprentice.

Should I still apply for a job, even if the employer can’t tell me if they’ll give me an apprenticeship?

When you’re just starting out, any experience in your trade is valuable. So, it can make sense for new trainees to take on a job just to gain experience. This will help you get an apprenticeship later (even if it’s with a different employer).

For example, MPTT trainee Toni Rhind started with a job she hoped would lead to an apprenticeship, but when her boss wasn’t able to give her one, she used the experience she’d gained to get an apprenticeship with another company.

However, you shouldn’t spend an extended period of time in a job that won’t lead to an apprenticeship. As an MPTT trainee you’ll have a coach, called a Navigator, who will give you advice along the way and help you find an apprenticeship.

Can I get help with my apprenticeship work?

Yes, it’s normal to need help along the way. Many trainees feel whakamā (shy or embarrassed) when asking for help. But the truth is, everyone needs help at some point in their training, and no-one expects you to know everything.

To get help during your apprenticeship, you can talk to your employer or tutor. Your training advisor (from your ITO) is also there to support you. Your apprenticeship provider (such as an ITO) can help with everything from literacy and numeracy to brushing up on practical skills through off-job training. Remember, there’s heaps of support available to help you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Can I change jobs part-way through my apprenticeship?

You can change jobs if you need to, but it’s best to stay with the same employer if you can. When you change jobs, you break your apprenticeship contract. Even though you can continue your apprenticeship with a new employer, it can take a few months before you sign the new contract. So by staying with one employer for your whole apprenticeship, you’re more likely to finish on time.

If you do need to change jobs along the way, make sure your new employer is happy to offer you an apprenticeship. Any work you’ve already had signed off will still count, so you can continue from where you left off once you sign your new contract.

Do I need to pay my apprenticeship fees at the start of my apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship fees are usually deducted from your wages over time. Exactly how much you pay and when will be based on an agreement between you, your employer and your apprenticeship provider. There’s no need to save up the fees before you start your apprenticeship.

Sometimes your employer will help you pay your fees. As an MPTT trainee, you might also have your fees subsidised as part of your scholarship, but this depends on your individual needs and is decided on a case-by-case basis by your MPTT Navigator.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

Apprenticeships are no longer based on hours. To get qualified, you need to show you have certain skills.

When you sign on for an apprenticeship, your training provider will let you know how long it’ll ideally take you to complete your qualification. Depending on your trade, this is usually between 2 years and 4 ½ years of being an apprentice. The length of your apprenticeship will also depend on whether you already have some of the skills you need (like if you’ve worked as a hammer hand).

Remember, speed isn’t everything, and it’s important to take the time you need to properly learn your trade.