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- Australian Qualifications Framework
- Apprenticeships and traineeships
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Apprenticeships and traineeships
- What do apprenticeships and traineeships offer?
- What do apprenticeships and traineeships involve?
- Types of apprenticeships and traineeships
- Apprenticeship and traineeship entry requirements
- Where are apprenticeships and traineeships offered?
Apprenticeships and traineeships are available at a variety of qualification levels in most occupations, including international trades and a wide range of emerging industry sectors.
In fact, they are offered in more than 500 occupations — from agriculture and horticulture to construction, public service, hairdressing and tourism (see the Australian Apprenticeships website for a full list).
Apprentices are trained in a skilled trade and on completion of their training become a qualified tradesperson in their area (such as an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a hairdresser or a bricklayer). Trainees, on the other hand, are trained in a vocational area such as hospitality, retail or office administration. Apprenticeships also involve a greater commitment for both the apprentice and employer, with all parties required to agree in order for the training contract to be cancelled and new employers required to continue with the training contract in the event that your employer sells the business.
Completing an apprenticeship or traineeship allows you to combine practical work with a course of structured training, meaning that you learn theory and work towards a nationally recognised VET qualification while employed in the industry.
The advantages of apprenticeships and traineeships
- Training is flexible: Apprenticeships and traineeships are flexible and can be full time, part time or school-based.
- Training is competency-based: Some years ago, apprenticeships and traineeships could take several years to complete as there was a set time period allocated to training. More recently, they have become competency based, meaning that you can finish your training once you have reached the appropriate skill level.
- You may be awarded credit: In many cases, you may be awarded ‘credit’ for prior learning or work experience and be able to complete your apprenticeship or traineeship earlier than expected.
- They offer varied experiences: Training can take place both on and off the job — you may complete some of your training working directly in the industry but also attend classes at TAFE or another Registered Training Organisation (RTO) one or two days per week.
- You ‘earn while you learn’: As you are working in the industry, you begin earning money straight away. This also means that you are eligible for employment benefits such as workers’ compensation and superannuation.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
Full-time apprenticeships and traineeships involve full-time work, which is usually around 36 to 38 hours per week. Part-time apprentices and trainees are employed on a permanent basis for fewer hours per week than full-time hours (generally around 15 to 21 hours per week).
Apprenticeships usually range from three to four years in duration, including two to three years of formal training delivered at an RTO one day per week or in larger study blocks throughout the year. Traineeships usually range from six months to three years in duration.
Apprenticeships and traineeships aren’t just for school leavers and young people either. There are plenty of opportunities for adult and mature age apprentices and trainees, who may be able to gain credits for previous education, training, work experience or life experience through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Existing workers may also be able to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship through their workplace.
Many industries allow students to begin part of their apprenticeship or traineeship while still in school. This means that you combine paid employment, off-the-job training (at TAFE, for example) and your secondary school studies. This is a great option if you have your mind set on a trade but still want to finish school. Schools can usually cater for this by providing ‘time release’ from school subjects — for example, allowing you to attend your training one afternoon per week. School-based apprenticeships and traineeships are available in many of the fields mentioned above, including anything from traditional trades (such as plumbing) to business services, hairdressing and retail. It’s best to speak to your school’s career adviser to ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to cater to your training requirements.
Some schools may also offer the VET in Schools program, which allows you to undertake a vocational course — from certificate I through to certificate IV — as part of your studies in Year 11 and 12. There are also specialised RTOs (both government-run and independent) that allow students to combine their senior studies, a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification and a school-based apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships generally don’t require you to have a prior qualification, meaning that they are available to anyone who is legally able to work — school students included (see above for details).
To gain an apprenticeship or traineeship, you can take following steps:
- Decide which career area best suits you, remembering that there are more than 500 apprenticeships and traineeships to choose from. You can find more information on apprenticeships and traineeships at the Australian Apprenticeships website, the Job Guide website, the Australian Apprenticeships Pathways website and the Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service website.
- Find an employer willing to take you on as an apprentice by looking for job vacancies and contacting your local Job Services Australia provider, Group Training Organisation, Australian Apprenticeships Centre or employers in your preferred industry. You will need to have an up-to-date résumé and may be required to complete job applications and attend interviews.
- Once you find an employer, ask them to contact your local Australian Apprenticeships Centre or Skills and Training Information Centre. They will help you and your employer to complete the necessary paperwork and sign up to the National Training Contract.
The training component of apprenticeships and traineeships is offered by registered training organisations (RTOs), which may include schools, Technical Education Centres (or similar RTOs) that combine secondary study with training, TAFE institutes and private providers. See Types of institutions for more information about providers.
The employment component may be completed through a wide variety of employers (such as private businesses or the public service) or through Group Training Organisations, which employ apprentices and trainees under a National Training Contract and place them with host employers.