Apprenticeship Careers

Applications are open. Apply now.
The Fonterra Apprenticeship Programme offers many benefits that come from being part of the world's largest dairy exporter and New Zealand's largest employer.

Combining the opportunity to learn and grow far beyond your core apprenticeship, across a wide variety of disciplines within our Co-operative and all from a starting point in regional New Zealand.


We partner with great training providers and set you up with experienced and knowledgeable mentors who are part of the supportive network you will have through your apprenticeship.

This allows you to gain the knowledge and technical skillset to complement all of your learning and development experiences.

What also makes our apprenticeships different is the additional development you’ll get. We provide learning opportunities in personal financial management, project management, career management, and other valuable areas that will help set you up for a career beyond your qualification.

You'll demonstrate passion for the chosen trade through your extra-curricular activities including any related project work with friends or family, getting involved with community groups or voluntary work, club sports, part-time jobs or any relevant work experience. 

We have a few requirements you'll need to enter the programme:

  • NCEA Level 2 Maths OR 
  • NZQA Level 3 Certificate in relevant area
  • For Electrical only, you'll need NCEA Level 2 Physics
  • Minimum Restricted Drivers Licence or Full 

Your positive attitude and strong work ethic is the perfect starting point on this apprenticeship journey. Working in such a fast-changing environment means you'll be adaptable to new processes and have the opportunity to use new machinery and technologies.

A willingness to drive your own learning throughout this programme will really make the difference, you'll be able to think on your feet, have a tech-savviness about you and be confident with numbers.  



Years old to apply (min)

2½ - 4

Years to complete, depending on apprenticeship


NZQA Accredited - Level 3 and Level 4 Qualification

Is an Apprenticeship with Fonterra right for you?  

We offer apprenticeships that build long-term careers and provide our people with game changing experiences, learning, knowledge, growth and connections. Here at Fonterra, you can ‘earn while you learn’.

Scope and Scale: 

When you join our apprentice programme you're not just learning a trade. Here's the full range of opportunities:

4 Different Apprentice Disciplines

One intake annually 

26 Manufacturing Sites in New Zealand

Jobs located from Northland to Southland

>7,000 Roles in New Zealand manufacturing

Lots of potential career paths to follow

Applications open now.

Applications close on September 25th 2022.
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Our Co-op story

Who is Fonterra?

We are a New Zealand Co-operative made up of everyday good people who work together to do good things with dairy, good things with the land we work on and good things for the people that our products end up with. We are passionate about doing amazing things with dairy.

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is an apprenticeship? 

As an apprentice you work for and learn from an employer who supports you through your apprenticeship in completing a nationally recognised qualification. You complete practical on-the-job assessments, theory work and depending on your apprenticeship you may attend classes away from the workplace. You develop not only knowledge, skills and experiences relevant to your qualification but at the same time gaining real life working experience and life long skills.

I can't decide between going to Uni, doing an apprenticeship or something else...

If you're interested in tertiary education, but don't fancy spending 3 years living away from home at uni and accumulating a large student debt, then an apprenticeship is a great career choice.  You might also prefer hands-on learning rather than books and want to get out into the world of work, whilst still continuing to learn, grow and gain career qualifications. 

How long does it take?

Our apprenticeships take between 2.5 - 4  years, depending on your chosen field:

· Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Heavy Automotive Engineering all take around 4 years

· Apprenticeship in Dairy Processing takes 2½ years

I've heard apprenticeships take 8,000 hours - what's that about?

Most trade apprenticeships are 4 years or 8,000 hours. This relates to the amount of practical work experience and formal learning required to be a competent tradesperson.  It is based on the typical 40-hour working week.... so 50 weeks a year at 40 hours a week equates to about 2,000 hours per year. Most of our apprenticeships are 4 years because 4 years x 2,000 hours is 8,000 hours.

Are there any Exams?

Each apprenticeship has different assessments relevant to the qualification, but for the electrical apprenticeship, you need to pass exams and on the job assessments.

What are the fees?

As well as paying you a wage, Fonterra also covers the cost of training fees for your qualification.



What age do I need to be? 

Our apprenticeships are open to anyone over 16 years of age and there is no upper age limit.

What are the entry requirements?

We look for lots of things in our successful candidates including:

  • NCEA Level 2 Maths or relevant NZQA Level 3 Certificate (plus Physics for our Electrical Apprentices)
  • Experience working well with others (e.g. work, sports teams, volunteering, clubs and groups)
  • Being able to quickly learn and pick up new information
  • A great communicator who isn’t scared of numbers
  • A great attitude, motivated and a true passion in your chosen field
  • A current drivers licence would be a bonus

What about a pre-trade? Does it help?

A level 3 course (often called a pre-trade) is beneficial in that it gives you insights into what your chosen industry will be like during and after you have completed your apprenticeship. Work experience is another great way to get exposure to jobs and the industry. However, because we give you all the learning and experience you need it's not essential.

Are the tools required to be an apprentice provided?

For our Mechanical, Electrical and Fleet Service apprenticeships, you will be issued with tools you need to do the job.

What if I haven't got my NCEA exam results? 

If you are currently sitting your NCEA Level 2 exams then still apply!  We would need to be confident you were going to pass but don't let it stop you applying if you meet the other entry requirements.

Where can I go with this?

Anywhere - once you finish your apprenticeship you are now on your career journey. There are many pathways including a technical expert, leadership roles or a master of your craft.

What do I get from this Apprenticeship?

Lots! We pay you an apprentice wage while you complete your New Zealand certificate level 4 in your selected field.  On top of this, you gain highly transferable and valuable broader life skills that help you become a well-rounded person, real-life working experience, introduction to a strong network of people on-site as well as being part of a 20,000 global team delivering dairy goodness to the world


Where do I sign up?

Create a profile here and our Fonterra Early Career page on Facebook for when jobs will open up.

What happens after I apply?

If you choose to apply (which you really should!) we will ask you some online questions upfront to learn more about you in relation to the apprenticeship you have applied for. For more information about applying for a position click here.

Where are the apprenticeships available?

We have apprentices located from Northland to Southland.

How many apprentices/trainees do you hire per year?

It varies depending on how many apprentices we need every year. We recruit for apprentices once a year.

When are the roles available?

Applications will open in September with a start date in January.



Where are the apprenticeships available?

We have apprentices located in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu, Canterbury and Southland.

How many apprentices/trainees do you hire per year?

It varies depending on how many apprentices we need every year. This year we are employing over 20 apprentices. We recruit for apprentices once a year.

When are the roles available?

Applications will open in August with a start date in January.