What are apprenticeships and traineeships?

Apprenticeships and traineeships are formal on-the-job training arrangements between an employer and an employee that can lead to a nationally recognised qualification.

There are many different types of people who become apprentices or trainees, including:

  • school-leavers
  • people re-entering the workforce
  • adults who have decided to change their career.

Apprenticeships and traineeships can be full time, part time or school based, and they can be in more than 500 different occupations.

Apprentices and trainees have key differences:

  • Apprentices develop a skilled trade, such as electrical work, plumbing, cabinet making. When an apprentice completes their apprenticeship successfully, an apprentice becomes a qualified tradesperson.
  • Trainees train in a vocational area, such as office administration, hospitality, information technology. When a trainee completes their traineeship successfully, the trainee receives a minimum of a Certificate 2 in their chosen vocation.
Check your state or territory regulations, but generally, anyone old enough to work can be an apprentice or trainee. They don’t need a secondary school certificate or any other qualification.

1. Understand your obligations

If you take on an apprentice or trainee, you must understand that this is an employment arrangement. Your apprentice or trainee is paid and have the same employment conditions as any of your other workers.


Employment conditions

The conditions of employment for apprentices and trainees are the same as for other employees in the same occupation. These conditions can include:

  • overtime
  • holidays
  • personal leave
  • superannuation.

Additional working conditions for apprentices and trainees mean you also need to provide them with:

  • opportunities to learn skills and acquire knowledge of their trade or traineeship
  • access to structured training
  • paid time off work to attend training when necessary
  • a safe working environment.

Find out more about the employment conditions that apply to apprentices and trainees on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

2. Decide what type of person you want

Think about your business needs and why you want an apprentice or trainee, you will need to understand:

  • what skills you need
  • what the job will involve
  • how you will employ this person (full-time or part-time).

3. Find an apprentice or trainee

To find the right person, you can:

Group training

Group training is when a Group Training Organisation (GTO) recruits an apprentice or trainee and places them with ‘host’ employers while they do their training.

The GTO is the employer of the apprentice or trainee, and is responsible for their employment benefits such wages, allowances, superannuation and so on. This can be very attractive if you're interested in employing an apprentice or trainee, but don’t have the capacity to manage the administrative side of things.

4. Sign and lodge a training contract and plan

If you have found an apprentice or trainee through a GTO, you don’t need to worry about this step or the following steps. A GTO will manage the process from now on.

If you aren’t using a GTO, once you’ve found a trainee or apprentice, you'll need to:

  • agree on a qualification that will meet the apprentice’s or trainee’s career goals and be suitable for your workplace
  • complete a training contract
  • agree on a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to deliver the training
  • develop a training plan with the RTO and your apprentice or trainee.

5. Register the apprenticeship or traineeship

Give the completed contract and plan to your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider. They will lodge them with the relevant State and Territory Training Authorities (STAs) for registration.

Once registration is complete, you and your apprentice or trainee will receive a confirmation letter from the relevant department in your state or territory. The department will oversee the apprenticeship or traineeship during the contract period.

6. Complete the probation period

An initial probation period applies to apprenticeships (90 days) and traineeships (30 days). This lets you and your new apprentice or trainee to get a feel for the arrangement and decide whether it should continue.

Once the probation period is completed, you and your apprentice or trainee are contracted to each other for the length of the contract.

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