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ETU apprentices: overcoming new challenges in 2021

admin ETU National

This year has presented many challenges, particularly for apprentices at TAFE affected by the current lockdown.

My name is Ally and I am a 4th year electrical apprentice. This year has presented many challenges, particularly for apprentices at TAFE affected by the current lockdown.

Learning a new trade with a young family is tough but achievable. The ETU has helped me along the way in many aspects throughout my apprenticeship, for example, assisting in sourcing some help in completing some of my TAFE subjects.

TAFE is a fundamental part of every electrical apprenticeship and will be a different experience for everyone. Some will fly through with no problems and others will need a little extra help to get them across the line. 2021 however has presented its own obstacles – another COVID-19 outbreak has brought the country into disarray with NSW copping the brunt of it. This has forced online learning for TAFE. Online learning isn’t ideal in our trade because electrical has so many practical subjects.  Some subjects (e.g. motors) are better understood when completing the class practicals.  

Online learning has been tough but another challenge to these closures is that students at the end of their apprenticeship are currently unable to sit their capstone assessments. There’s no answer as to what TAFE will look like for the rest of the year, so it’s a stressful time for apprentices and teachers who are doing their best in the circumstances. As someone who hated school so much, I never thought I would ever say “I hope we can get back into the classroom sometime this year”.

The ETU isn’t just about fighting for better conditions for us at work, it is also a huge support base. I have met some people through the Union that will be lifelong friends. Throughout my apprenticeship I have also met some amazing people who have taught me skills I hope to one day pass on to other apprentices.

It’s a good feeling knowing I have a network of people that always have my back. For anyone just starting out in their apprenticeship, I suggest joining the ETU. With so many benefits, what do you have to lose?


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