Get a Trade and Get it Made!

Trades and services careers are for people with smarts who want to do practical and useful work, who want to get financially set up without a loan hanging over their heads and who want to have heaps of options for the future.



What are trades and services?

Trades and services typically refer to jobs that require manual skills and on-the-job training.


What are manual skills?

Manual skills are related to work where you use your hands.


What is on-the-job training?

On-the-job training (also known as trade or industry training) is tertiary education delivered in the workplace. Instead of sitting in a classroom, you're studying towards a tertiary qualification at work.

You'll need to complete on-the-job assessments to show that you're competent performing practical tasks. There's also a theory component. So, you may be required to attend short courses provided by a polytechnic or other education provider.


What are the benefits?

Earn and learn

On-the-job training provides an opportunity for you to enter into paid employment, while working towards a tertiary qualification.

Be debt free and independent

While other people are saddled with course fees and student loans, you'll be earning a wage and getting a head-start towards financial independence.
In 2014, the average student debt was NZ$24,405, according to the New Zealand Union of Student Associations.

Be qualified

On-the-job training is tertiary education. It's simply an alternative route to the same destination. Instead of sitting in a classroom, you'll be studying for a tertiary qualification at work.

Be highly employable

Universities used to be seen as a passport to success. Now, the perception is that you need a degree just to get a job. What you really need are marketable skills.
Employers are looking for relevant education and experience. On-the-job training is developed for industry and delivered by industry. So, the skills you gain are current, relevant and in demand.

Be highly mobile

On-the-job qualifications can take you anywhere in the world. The 2014 Talent Shortage Survey, conducted by Manpower Group, shows that engineers, technicians and skilled trades are among the top-five jobs employers have difficulty filling. Globally, skilled trades are the highest in demand.

Build a career

There are genuine long-term career prospects for bright, young, motivated people in New Zealand's trades and services. Once you're qualified, you can move through the ranks to supervisor or manager. You can also start your own business.


What qualifications can I get?

On-the-job training covers all levels of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, but maintains a strong focus on level 1-4, which includes national certificates and apprenticeships. Diplomas are also offered across some trades and services.


How long does it take?

The length of on-the-job training varies, depending on the industry, the qualification and your own progress. It could be anything from a few weeks, to a few years.


How much does it cost?

On-the-job training is government subsidised and the remainder is often paid for by your employer. You may have to pay for course-related costs, such as training materials. However, this can vary between the different ITO's and the individual training agreements.


How do I get started?

On-the-job training requires you to find a job in an industry covered by an ITO, as well as an employer who is willing to invest in your training.


Talk to your careers advisor about the trades and services that you're interested in. They should be able to identify the skills you need to develop and map out the steps you need to take. You should also set-up work experience with relevant local businesses.


You'll find a broad range of ads for apprentices and trainees on major job search engines like and
To improve your chances of success, try following our tips on how to choose a career and how to get a job.

If you're already employed

Check whether your industry is covered by an ITO. And, ask your employer whether he or she would consider investing in on-the-job training. An ITO should be able to provide all the relevant information and discuss the benefits with your employer.


What is an ITO?

An Industry Training Organisation (ITO) makes it easy to learn on-the-job. They work with industries to develop national skill standards and tertiary qualifications, including national certificates, apprenticeships and diplomas.

An ITO develops and administers on-the-job training, providing a structured framework and support for both the employer and learner throughout the entire process.

The training itself is delivered by the employer (on-the-job) and an education provider (off-the-job). An independent assessor is also required to evaluate the learner.

Our Industries

Need some inspiration?


I definitely feel a few steps ahead of my peers.

Ben, Plumbing and gasfitting


“I knew I needed a trade. Something I could be proud of.”

Rikki, Interior Systems Apprentice

Ashton Fleming - NZ Fitting And Machining Apprenticeship

I race stock cars. So, learning how to use machinery is really helpful.

Ashton, Engineering

Courtney Brown - NZ Electrician Apprenticeships

I'm learning something new every day.

Courtney, Electrician

Cole - NZ Barbering Apprenticeship

I'm learning way more than I ever did at school.

Cole, Barbering

160804 01 Rebecca Parker 07

I love helping people and providing customers with the best service.

Rebecca, Sales and Service Associate

Sione Tonga profile

Straight away I knew this was the career for me, so I worked hard to prove myself. It was hard at first but now I have found a job that I can be proud of.

Sione, Machine Operator

20160729 Got a Trade Jasmine Kuru 039

Completing my apprenticeship has inspired me to go on and share my knowledge with my fellow workers in the industry.

Jasmine, Road Line Logging Worker

160505 01 Bruno De Fontein 002

You’ve got to be happy about what you do to be able to create good food and serve people well.

Bruno, Front of house

Screen Shot 2017 08 09 at 8.55.44 AM

“We work alongside that young person to look at opportunities for them to build a positive future. It’s a one-to-one partnership and it’s about their needs first.”

McKenzie, Youth Worker

Tamara Landscape 01

“The people who are in this industry make it all worth it."

Tamara, Chef

Julius - NZ Automotive Technician Training

You can get somewhere with trades!

Julius, Automotive Technician

Rebekah - NZ Baking Apprentice

It's hands-on. And, that's what I really like about it.

Rebekah, Bakery

160804 01 Divan Badenhorst 03

If you love something, it’s so much easier to promote it to others

Divan, Cosmetics Team Leader

Casey Mead Hero

“You’re getting paid to study - you don’t have a massive student loan!”

Casey, Apprentice Automotive Technician

Dion Wharemate - Signmaking Apprenticeship NZ

I like building things and using my hands.

Dion, Signmaking

blair tourism

On-the-job training is helping my career massively.

Blair, Tourism

Sam Gascoigne - NZ Roofing Apprenticeship

After getting qualified, I set up my own business.

Sam, Roofing

Mike - NZ Maintenance Engineering Apprenticeship

You can go anywhere in the world with this qualification.

Mike, Maintenance Engineering

Ferdinand - Piling And Foundation Apprenticeship in NZ

Once I'm qualified, I can travel all around the world.

Ferdinand, Piling and Foundation Trainee

Logan - Apprentice Painter NZ

There's the potential to make a lot of money and start your own business.

Logan, Painting

Beau 03

I have a customer who, for a couple of years, has been coming in every second day to browse or buy. These days we sometimes meet over coffee to chat about our shared hobby.

Beau, Retail Sales Assistant

20160802 Got a Trade Anna Clearwater 017

My proudest moment was telling my parents I was going to be a carpentry apprentice and getting their support and approval.

Anna, Carpentry Apprentice

Casey Mead Hero

“You’re getting paid to study - you don’t have a massive student loan!”

Casey, Apprentice Automotive Technician

Nicole - Aircraft Engineer Training NZ

There are so many opportunities in this business.

Nicole, Aircraft Engineer

Stephanie - Hairdressing Apprenticeships NZ

I've been able to move out of home and pay my own way in the world.

Stephanie, Hairdresser

Matt - NZ Forestry Careers

It's a win-win situation.

Matt, Forestry

Anthony - NZ Electrician Apprentice

Good pay. Good lifestyle.

Anthony, Line Mechanic Apprentice

Cody - NZ Carpentry Apprentice

I'm on my way to buying a house. And, I'm only 21.

Cody, Carpentry

Mike B - Infrastructure Supervisor Apprenticeship NZ

For people in this industry, there's plenty of work out there.

Mike, Infrastructure Supervisor

Rowan Cumiskey - NZ Car Finishing Apprenticeship

It's great to earn and learn.

Rowan, Car Finishing Apprentice

Ashley - NZ Chef Apprenticeship

I made my family and friends proud.

Ashley, Chef

160804 01 Jonelle Goldsbury 04

It’s a fifty, fifty split between inside and outside and that’s just the right balance for me

Jonelle, Logistics Specialist

Bungy 07

I want to continue moving up the ranks and become jump master,

Jesse, Tourism

Sarah Collins Hobbiton 09

“Tourism has stolen my attention.”

Sarah, Senior Guide - Hobbiton Movie Set Tours


I now have a career for life.

Patrick, Plastic Processing

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“My careers counsellor told me to figure out what drives me and what I enjoy doing"

Winnie, Electrical Service Technician

Blair Tuke - NZ Apprentice Electrician

When you're passionate about something, it's easy to do.

Blair, Electrician

Guides & tips

Our Heroes and the case studies contained in this site provide a really great insight into the challenges and rewards that on-the-job learning and qualifications hold. Most of them will say that they've worked hard and that the hardest part of starting their journey was getting that first job. Do your research, find an employer who is willing to invest in on-the-job training or an apprenticeship, work hard and the world really could be your oyster.

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