The Problem

It’s a tough gig

The road to a trade qualification is tough. Apprentices face financial dependence due to low wages, minimal support from peers and professionals, severe isolation from an industry rife with poor outcomes across the board, and many even suffer through exploitation, silence in the face of new challenges, and unacceptable mental health outcomes. With a lack of support, it’s no surprise that young apprentices lead the country in the worst mental health statistics, the least favourable financial positions, and devastating outcomes in other aspects like addiction.

With these mounting issues, the future of the industry is in jeopardy and direct intervention is desperately needed.

The challenges faced by the construction industry


48% of apprentices leave their trade – most before completion of their second year


First-year apprentices earn far less than qualified tradespeople, causing financial strain and often leading to exploitation


Studies report that nearly one third of all trades apprentices reported suicidal thoughts in a single year


Over 90% of trades businesses have less than 10 employees – many apprenticeships are completed alone

Isolation Kills

The “need for self reliance” is the strongest predictor to poor mental health outcomes


Construction workers are 54% more likely to take their lives than any other industry


More professionals in construction work over 50 hours/week than any other industry and many apprentices are expected to meet that standard

Over 100%

Young men in construction are more than twice as likely to take their own lives than the general population, and young women aren’t much better

Nearly half of all apprentices leave without any qualification

With the industry in the state we currently see, young apprentices find the challenges they face all-too-often overwhelming to the point of leaving the trade, leaving a large vacuum of talent and potential in their wake. Young people who leave school to become an electrician, a builder, a plumber, are left without support from an industry of self-reliance and isolation, and abandoned to fend for themselves when confronted with mounting, unfamiliar challenges. These young people are left severely disadvantaged, having invested years of their youth earning very little, and without anything to show for it.

Apprentices find themselves faced with unfamiliar hurdles without the necessary support to overcome them

Financial burdens

Making the most of low wages to get by, many apprentices struggle to afford the tools they require to learn their trade. The luckiest have a safety net at home to support them, yet are still unable to find their desired independence.

Exploitation on-site

Even those apprentices who secure financial support can still be targeted by unethical employers, often exploiting them for cheap labour without providing them with the opportunities they require to learn their trade.

Severe isolation

Many apprentices find employment in small businesses, leaving them working alone amongst qualified tradespeople and without peers. Without the support of peers who share similar experiences, many apprentices find themselves with nowhere to turn when work life becomes overwhelming.

Learning on the job is vital, but why do so many apprentices struggle?

The unfortunate reality of trades apprenticeships is that they are entirely dependent on their employer and fellow trades workers to learn the skills they need to succeed in their craft. With minimal external coaching and oversight, many apprentices are left without the growth they were hoping to see. They are left relying on trade schools and other programs to supplement their skills as they’re stuck pushing brooms around the work site as cheap labour.

The future of our industry relies upon these bright individuals to become the next generation of professionals and innovators, but also to craft the standards that all trades will operate on. It’s vital that apprentices are provided with the resources and mentorship they need to fulfill their potential and build a better industry.

Stories from your peers

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Replenishing my mental health through getting out golfing on the weekends

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Adjusting to the financial difficulties of living out of home as an apprentice

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Enjoying the freedom to be able to see different places between site to site

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Keeping up with the crew while balancing on the back foot

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Adjusting to the industry as a mature age apprentice

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