How to Find and Keep Good Apprentices main image

How to Find and Keep Good Apprentices

Taking on an apprentice is a big investment for any automotive business. It takes time, money and energy to train up the next generation of technicians.

So, it’s disappointing and frustrating when an apprenticeship ends early. It’s also very common.

While 73% of Members told State of the Nation they’d employed an apprentice, 57% said they had lost an apprentice before the apprentice had completed their qualification.

Almost a quarter of Members also reported struggling to find suitable candidates for apprenticeships, labelling it a major challenge for the industry. We’ve come a long way from the days when workshops were “doing a favour” to an apprentice by taking them on. The supply and demand equation has flipped.

On this page, we’ll look at ways Members can find and keep good apprentices, with insights from current apprentices who took part in this year’s Capricorn Rising Star award.

Apprentice working on machine
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Are you an attractive boss to a potential apprentice?

Chris Haywood is a fourth-year collision apprentice at Parker’s Crash Repairs in Victor Harbour in South Australia. He’s passionate about the industry and his future in it. At 28, he’s an older apprentice, having come to the industry after trying other career paths first.

There were several factors that Chris said attracted him to join the team at Parker’s.

Chris is all too aware of how lucky he is. He knows from his mates at trade school that other apprentices are having a less positive experience.

“I’ve heard of a few bosses who basically treat apprentices as expendable, so no wonder they’re having problems with retention,” he said.

“If you’ve got staff who are happy to come to work and put in a good eight hours, you’ll get more out of them.

“Happy staff don’t drag their feet. They’re not just there for the money. Everyone should help each other; it shouldn’t be every person for themselves.”

Is your workshop an attractive workplace to a potential apprentice?

Matilda Gook (17) is a heavy diesel apprentice at APS Mech in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Her father is also a heavy diesel mechanic and she credits that early exposure to the industry with her wanting to pursue it as a career.

Matilda is one of a small but slowly growing band of female apprentices now entering the industry. Twelve per cent of Members told State of the Nation they employed a female apprentice and, clearly, there’s a huge opportunity to welcome more women into the industry. But that won’t happen unless we can encourage them into apprenticeships.

“I think a lot of females are pretty scared of the industry because it’s all boys,” she said. “I found a lot of the boys very judgemental.”

Matilda said if her boss, Capricorn Member Andy Schmidt, hadn’t been so supportive, she might have already left the industry despite her passion for it.

Here are her tips for attracting and retaining apprentices, especially women:

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Is your workshop culture attractive to a potential apprentice?

In WA, Kody Mulachy is a third-year apprentice with Voltaic Auto Electrical. He chose his trade because he figured there’d always be plenty of work and nonstop learning as cars become more electrical. Kody is one of five apprentices at the workshop. Here’s what he thinks his boss (Capricorn Member Josh Doutch) gets right:

A few final tips for attracting and retaining apprentices

Apprentice sanding car body
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