How do you get an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are essential to the growth and prosperity of New Zealand. They are the on-the-job training that allows the trades to maintain status as essential to New Zealand’s economy, and are typically open to New Zealand residents who are over 16 years old and have a keen interest in hard work and learning through experience.

The first step in getting an apprenticeship is deciding which industry you think you see yourself in. Whether it is carpentry or manufacturing, agriculture or boat building, your best first-stop is to contact one of the 12 industry training organisations (ITOs) in New Zealand. ITOs help you get NZQA-recognised qualifications on-the-job, provide packaged information about education, training, and renumeration, and arrange assessments whilst training to ensure your apprenticeship is top-notch.

For school leavers wanting to get into the trades industries, it usually helps to have some part-time experience on a building site or workshop under your belt. It will give you a good reference so your work ethic can be verified before anybody takes you on as an apprentice. There are also some good options for pre-trade training.

You’ll definitely need your full driver’s license (there’s no telling what kind of tasks you’ll be asked to do as an apprentice), and if you’re at Year 11 or 12, it can be useful to get levels one and two of the National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades Skills (find out more about it on

Typically building apprentices were found by word-of-mouth; today websites such as the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation’s (BCITO) can help you find an apprenticeship. Here you can create a work profile and the BCITO will try and match your interests with an appropriate company who might take you on.

There’s about 45,000 apprentices training in New Zealand, 70 per cent are males and 30 per cent are females. Twenty five per cent of apprenticeships are done in Auckland, with Canterbury, Wellington, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty also being good hubs for them.

Once you have a job lined up and your employer has agreed to train you as an apprentice, in order to gain qualifications (all New Zealand apprenticeships result in at least Level 4 qualification and a minimum of 120 credits), your employer needs to agree on a training plan with an ITO which can arrange it all for you.

These days, trade apprenticeships are ideal for people who want to start earning money immediately and want to be financially secure, without student loans hanging over their heads throughout their lives. Apprenticeships are usually subsidised by the Government and paid for by an employer, and can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to four or five years.