Fancy a career change? Free apprenticeships to lure older students into trades

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
4 Min Read

You’re never too old to become a tradie; at least, that’s what the Queensland Government now says. 

Free trade TAFE courses will now be offered to aspiring tradies of any age as the Queensland government desperately tries to fill its skilled worker sinkhole. 

From today, a range of cost-free construction apprenticeships will be available to mature-age students, including courses in carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, and electrotechnology with TAFE or CQ University. 

The updated offer removes the previous age-based barrier on Queensland’s fee-free apprenticeship TAFE scheme for under 25s as the state looks to rebuild its lagging tradie numbers. 

Queensland is expected to bear the brunt of Australia’s imminent 90,000 tradie shortfall as the state struggles to find the skilled workers required for its 2032 Olympics construction and $107 billion worth of infrastructure projects such as Brisbane’s Cross River Rail.  

That is not forgetting those tradies needed to tackle the state’s ongoing housing crisis, with an ambitious housing target of one million new homes and 53,500 new social homes by 2046.

Queensland Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon says expanding the free TAFE courses to any ages would hopefully boost stocks by an additional 13,000 tradies over the extended two-year funding period.

“For the first time, construction apprenticeships are free to Queenslanders of all ages,” she said.

“We don’t just want more Queenslanders to take up a good career in construction, we need them so we can build more homes for Queenslanders.”

Minister for Training and Skills Development Lance McCallum said the scheme is a great opportunity for Queenslanders to upskill or transition into high-paying trade jobs. 

“Progressive coal royalties means the cost of living shouldn’t get in the way of any Queenslander getting into the high paid hi-vis jobs created by our Big Build,” he said.

The changes, set to be formally announced Thursday this week, come after Oxford Economics Australia released data warning the Queensland government to fix its excessive labour shortages or face forking out an additional $200m for every infrastructure project worth over $1bn once construction inflation begins to rise. 

Fee-free TAFE courses available from today:

• Certificate III in Bricklaying and Blocklaying

• Certificate III in Carpentry

• Certificate III in Construction Waterproofing

• Certificate III in Plumbing

• Certificate III in Gas Fitting

• Certificate III in Glass and Glazing

• Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician and;

• Certificate III in Painting and Decorating

Some qualifications will require apprentices to pay for additional equipment, such as the cost of a uniform, PPE, and learning resources. 

However, first-year apprentices will also be eligible for a $1000 tool rebate. 

Those who started the first year of a construction, plumbing, or electrical apprenticeship after January 1st may be eligible for a rebate of up to $1,000 to cover the cost of tools purchased for the apprenticeship.

Under the Free Tools for First Years program, $4 million is available, and claims will be open until the funds are exhausted.

However, apprentices can only claim once per person even if they do not utilise the entire $1000 rebate. 

Build-it has confirmed that any mature-aged students will also be eligible for the rebate program while it is on offer. 

Share This Article
Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.