Apprentices and trainees

Taking on apprentices and trainees can provide real benefits for your business. They can contribute significantly to your bottom line with practical skills and knowledge gained through their training.

What are apprentices and trainees?

Apprenticeships and traineeships combine training with working in a real job, for a real wage. They are formal training arrangements between an employer and an employee that can lead to a nationally recognised qualification.

Anyone who’s old enough to work (14 years and nine months and older) can be an apprentice or trainee and they don’t need a secondary school certificate or any other 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.

Difference between apprentices and trainees

  • Apprentices are trained in a skilled trade, such as electrical work, plumbing, cabinet making and so on. When an apprenticeship is completed successfully, an apprentice becomes a qualified tradesperson.
  • Trainees are trained in a vocational area, such as office administration, hospitality, information technology and so on. When a traineeship is completed successfully, the trainee receives a minimum of a Certificate 2 in their chosen vocation.

Advantages of employing apprentices and trainees

Employing apprentices and trainees means having workers who are:

  • keen to learn
  • trained to your specific business requirements
  • armed with nationally recognised qualifications.

You can choose whether you want someone full-time or part-time, depending on your business needs.

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, super 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
  • don’t have enough work for an ongoing or full-time position.

Case studies

To find out how real businesses have benefitted from providing recognised training to their employees, watch the Real Stories Real Achievements video series on the Australian Training Awards website.

Employing an apprentice or trainee

Are you keen to take on an apprentice or trainee?

We’ve put together these easy steps to give you an idea of how it works.

1. Decide what you are looking for

Think about your business needs and why you're looking for an apprentice or trainee. Then work out:

  • what skills you need
  • what the job will involve
  • whether you want a full-timer or part-timer
  • what field the apprenticeship or traineeship will be in.

2. Find an apprentice or trainee

There are a number of ways you can look for the right person:

  • Recruit someone you know or who has been recommended to you.
  • Advertise the position in a local paper or online.
  • Get in touch with local employment agencies.
  • Contact your local group training provider.

To learn more about finding an apprentice or trainee or to discuss group training options, talk to your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider. Network providers make it easier for employers to recruit, train and retain apprentices by providing personalised advice and support services throughout the life of the apprenticeship.

3. Sign and lodge a training contract and plan

If you have found an apprentice or trainee through a Group Training Organisation, you don’t need to worry about this step or the below steps – they will manage the administrative side of things!

If you aren’t using a Group Training Organisation, 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.

4. 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. They will oversee the apprenticeship or traineeship during the contract period.

5. Complete the probation period

There is an initial probation period (generally 90 days for apprenticeships and 30 days for traineeships). This lets you and your apprentice or trainee 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.


For trainees, find information about trainee pay rates and trainee entitlements on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

For apprentices, use the Pay and Conditions Tool to calculate the minimum pay rates, allowances and penalty rates.

Employment conditions

The conditions of employment for apprentices and trainees are the same as for other employees in the same occupation, including overtime, holidays, personal leave, superannuation and so on.

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

  • every opportunity to learn the skills and acquire the 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 website.

Support for employers

As an employer, you can access a range of government support to help you employ apprentices and trainees.

For example, Support for Adult Australian Apprentices makes payments to the employer if the apprentice or trainee is aged over 25 and meets other eligibility requirements.

Search Grant & Assistance for more government support for your business.

Questions about employing apprentices or trainees?

Your main ports of call should be:

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