New school pre-apprenticeship program lifts female participation

  • Women in Pre-apprenticeship program is supporting more women into apprenticeships
  • South Metropolitan TAFE program has helped boost female pre-apprenticeship enrolments in 2024, with young women now making up one in five participants
  • Part of Cook Government’s $29.8 million investment to expand vocational training places for secondary school students
  • Extra 4,000 training places now available in publicly funded courses for secondary school students

Young women training in engineering are among the latest cohort of secondary school students to benefit from the Cook Government’s $29.8 million investment to expand the number of vocational education and training (VET) places available for Year 10, 11 and 12 students.

An extra 4,000 training places have been made available in 2024 for secondary school students to undertake vocational qualifications as part of their WA Certificate of Education.

The State Government’s investment to fund additional places will allow for a total of 10,600 enrolments in publicly-funded VET Delivered to Secondary Schools (VETDSS) courses this year.

The VETDSS program gives secondary school students an opportunity to learn more about industries of interest and the vocational pathways available once they finish school.

Training and Workforce Development Minister Simone McGurk today met with students in the Women in Pre-apprenticeship program (WIP) at South Metropolitan TAFE’s (SMT) Rockingham campus.

The young women are undertaking a Certificate II in Engineering (Heavy Fabrication Pre-apprenticeship).

Thanks to the State Government’s funding of additional VET places, SMT developed the WIP to support and enhance female participation in VET pre-apprenticeship pathways.

The program provides young women an opportunity to build their engineering skills through hands-on learning in state-of-the-art facilities, using the latest industry-standard technology.

Following completion of the two-year pre-apprenticeship program, the participants will be ready to transition to an apprenticeship in engineering within the manufacturing and defence sector.

South Metropolitan TAFE’s efforts to improve female participation in pre-apprenticeships are already paying off, with the proportion of enrolments by females up from 16 per cent in 2023 to 22 per cent in the first semester of 2024.

Early preliminary data for 2024 shows that there have been almost 7,000 enrolments in publicly funded VETDSS courses at WA TAFE colleges.

The top five most popular VETDSS courses at WA TAFE colleges in 2024 are:

  • Certificate IV in Preparation for Health and Nursing Studies (725 enrolments)
  • Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Career Start) (413 enrolments)
  • Certificate II in Building and Construction (Pathway Trades) (379 enrolments)
  • Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation (327 enrolments)
  • Certificate III in Screen and Media (268 enrolments)

To further support the VETDSS program, the State Government is continuing to deliver its record $243.3 million investment in upgrading facilities at WA TAFE colleges, and implement the $25 million Modern TAFE Equipment program to ensure VETDSS students have the latest industry-standard training equipment to train with.

For more information about the training opportunities available for secondary students through VETDSS, please visit or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre on 13 64 64.

As stated by Training and Workforce Development Minister Simone McGurk:

“We want more young people to take up apprenticeships, and the State Government’s $29.8 million investment in additional vocational training places for secondary students is helping pave the way for them to do just that.

“The additional funding means an extra 4,000 Year 10, 11 and 12 students can explore vocational training options while they’re still at school – also developing critical skills to help them become ‘job ready’.

“In particular, the Women in Pre-apprenticeships program is equipping young women with a strong foundation of skills, setting them up for engineering apprenticeships in sectors like manufacturing and defence.

“The program is a practical example of South Metropolitan TAFE’s efforts to create greater gender balance in engineering and address the skills shortages so many of our priority industries are experiencing.”

As stated by Women’s Interests Minister Sue Ellery:

“On the eve of International Women’s Day, it’s wonderful that participation of women in pre-apprenticeships continues to grow – but we must keep at it.

“Supporting and enhancing pathways for women into vocational training is crucial to helping achieve gender balance, which benefits women, employers and the economy.

“The Women in Pre-apprenticeship program is a practical initiative helping more young women get the skills they need to get an apprenticeship in in-demand trades.”

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