From apprentice to site supervisor – students paving their tertiary pathways in construction

We talk with the Master Builders Association of NSW about their tertiary apprenticeship pathway, giving students the opportunity to start a construction-based apprenticeship that can lead to higher level Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications and a non-ATAR pathway to university.

30 July 2020

“Don’t despair, there’s a pathway there!” This advice comes from Darin Grace and Karen Kellock from the Master Builders Association of NSW (MBA), the oldest industry association in NSW, which supports employers and employees working in the building and construction industry.

It was the MBA’s insight into the industry’s need for well-rounded graduate site supervisors with practical experience that led to the development of the Apprentice to Site Supervisor Pathway Program.

Apprentice to Site Supervisor Pathway Program

An EPPP initiative, the Apprentice to Site Supervisor Pathway Program gives high school students the opportunity to start a construction apprenticeship at the beginning of Year 11 and receive practical hands-on learning in a trade that they enjoy. They can later study a Diploma of Project Management and/or a Bachelor of Construction Management without needing an ATAR.

Darin says the great thing about this study and career pathway is that “students can jump in and out when they want. The pathway is flexible so students can pick and choose when they’re ready to take on extra learning.”

Karen adds that “right from day one, the student is earning money whilst they learn with all their training costs being covered. This gives apprentices the ability to lead the lifestyle they want. Often apprentices finish work around 3pm so there is still plenty of sunshine and plenty of time to do what they want, like going for an afternoon surf.”

Karen is also keen to bust a common myth about apprentice salaries. “A lot of people think apprentices aren’t paid very well. However, the average first year apprentice is taking home over $500 a week, with a first year carpentry apprentice earning over $550 a week.”

For students who know that they want to start a trade but don’t know which one, Darin advises that “pre-apprenticeships are the perfect place to start because they are designed to give students a taste of what the construction industry is like. It’s like a ‘try before you buy system’ that is at no cost to the student or their family as it is usually government-funded. It really opens students’ eyes to the opportunities that are available to them.”

These opportunities have been pursued by many MBA apprentices, and many go down different career pathways after receiving their trade qualification. Darin lists a few including, “running their own business, becoming a project manager, construction manager or site supervisor, or becoming a foreman for a large organisation and working their way up through management. The pathway can really take students wherever they want to go!”

So, how do students sign up to the Apprentice to Site Supervisor Program?

Talk to your Careers Adviser about starting a construction school-based apprenticeship or traineeship and visit the MBA’s Build Your Story Website for further information.

  • Student engagement and participation
Return to top of page Back to top