Higher apprenticeships – opportunities and barriers

June 2017
Estimated publish date
December 2018
Principal researcher(s)
Tabatha Griffin
Senior Research Officer, NCVER
Research sponsor - Commonwealth Department of Education and Training
Tabatha Griffin tabatha.griffin@ncver.edu.au 08 8230 8431
Project code

Project purpose

A flexible and responsive Australian apprenticeships system is essential to support evolving labour market demands. Higher apprenticeships have the potential to respond to the skilling needs of growing, high-skill industry sectors by combining on-the-job training with advanced level training.

Skills ministers of the COAG Industry and Skills Council have agreed that an area of focus in apprenticeships is strategies to improve the status of apprenticeships. Opening up higher apprenticeships pathways that involve collaboration between employers, registered training organisations and universities can assist to lift the status of apprenticeships as a valued career path.

Industry stakeholders are calling for higher level apprenticeships. The Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Business Council of Australia have called for an apprenticeships system that develops contemporary, relevant and higher-level trade and para-professional skills across the economy.

Significant reforms in the United Kingdom demonstrate the higher apprenticeship’s model potential; graduates being rated as more employable, high completion rates, better staff retention, and strong return on investment for government.

Small-scale trials of higher level apprenticeships are underway in Australia, but further scoping work and research is required at a national scale to understand the potential for broader application for the higher apprenticeships concept.

This project will research international practice and Australian perspectives on the potential for, barriers and their possible solutions in relation to higher apprenticeship models. The project will focus on industry and government jurisdiction’s perspectives regarding differing higher apprenticeship models and their application to an Australian context.

Research questions

  1. What is the current status of higher skill level training (apprenticeships/trainees) in Australia?
  2. What international models exist regarding higher apprenticeships?
  3. What can be learnt from these comparisons for the Australian context?
  4. What do Australian stakeholders regard as key features of any higher apprenticeship models, potential barriers and opportunities?
  5. Are there differences by Australian jurisdiction and industry sectors in response to question 4?


The project is divided into two related and overlapping stages: an overview of available literature and more in-depth qualitative consultation with industry, government and other stakeholders, with emphasis given to the later stage.