Apprenticeships and Traineeships

The term Australian Apprenticeships includes both apprenticeships and traineeships and they typically combine paid employment under a training contract and a relevant training wage, with structured training both on‐the‐job and off‐the‐job, leading to a nationally recognised qualification. They are available in a variety of Certificate levels in more than 500 occupations across Australia, in traditional trades and vocations generally through apprenticeships, as well as traineeships in a diverse range of careers in most sectors of business and industry.

At September 2010, there was a record number of 448 800 apprentices and trainees in-training, representing a 5.1% increase in apprentice and trainee activity on the previous year. (Source >>)


An apprentice is a person who is employed in a structured training arrangement under an apprenticeship training contract. It usually involves the person receiving training and being assessed both on- and off-the- job.

The contract governing the terms of an apprenticeship is made between an employer and a person employed by them as an apprentice. The contract must be registered with the relevant state or territory’s government department or agency in accordance with that state’s or territory’s legislation. The training provided under the contract must be delivered by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) approved by that state’s or territory’s department or agency and a formal Training Plan developed by the RTO must form the basis of the person’s training and assessment.

Apprenticeships are generally associated with occupations that are in the traditional trades, with an occupational entry level qualification at the Certificate III or IV level and duration of typically three to four years.


Traineeships generally cover a much wider range of more service‐oriented occupations such as business, retail, financial services, childcare, health and community services. They are usually undertaken at Certificate II or Certificate III, however they are increasingly available as higher level qualifications. They are usually for periods of two or less years.

Existing worker trainees

An existing worker is an employee who has a three month or more full-time equivalent employment relationship with their employer. The working relationship can be built up through full- time, part-time or casual employment or engagement as a seasonal or contract worker and includes periods of approved leave.

An employer of an existing worker who becomes an Australian apprentice/trainee may attract incentives for a Certificate III, IV or Diploma or Advanced Diploma level qualification where:

  • the employee is articulating from an Australian Apprenticeship at the Certificate II level to an Australian Apprenticeship at the Certificate III or IV level (within 12 months); or
  • the postcode of the employer’s workplace and the qualification the Australian Apprentice is undertaking are eligible to attract the special Rural and Regional Skills Shortage commencement incentive; or
  • the Training Contract, as declared by the relevant State/Territory Training Authority specifies that the expected/nominal duration of the Australian Apprenticeship is two years or more (part time employment is prorated).

The eligibility of existing workers to attract incentives also depends on the prior qualifications they hold and whether the Australian Apprentice meets the eligibility requirements of the program. More >>

New Entrant Trainees

If a new employee is contracted to a traineeship by his/her employer with the first three (3) months of their employment with the company, then they enter into a 'new entrant traineeship,' often at Certificate II. The employer and Registered Training Organisation (RTO) incentives for new entrant trainees may vary from state to state, depending on local arrangements.

School-based, Part-time Apprentices and Trainees

A School-based apprenticeship or traineeship is a regular Australian apprenticeship/traineeship that is undertaken on a part-time basis by an enrolled school student as part of their senior studies with the "VET subject" including paid employment as an apprentice or a trainee, and off-the-job vocational training with the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) being the school, TAFE or a private training provider.

This VET pathway provides senior secondary students with hands-on industry experience, and the ability to work towards or complete a nationally recognised qualification, while they complete their senior school certificate.

The RTO's training may be undertaken for a couple of hours every week and/or for a longer block of time, dependent on requirements. The students will need to negotiate time-release from their other school subjects to attend training and arrange to catch up on any material they miss.

The number of hours an Australian School-based apprentice/trainee needs to be employed per week differs between States and Territories based on their legislation. Some can undertake their paid employment outside of school hours, such as on the weekend, however others must take time during school hours to work and this depends on the requirements of the employer. More >>

Government Financial Assistance for Employers, Apprentices and Trainees

For Employers - Commencement Incentives

Standard Commencement:
$1250 - Certificate II level
$1500 - Certificate III, IV, Diploma and Advanced Diploma

Extra Commencement Incentives:
$1000 - Rural incentive for Certificate III, IV in selected non-metropolitan areas
$750 - Mature-age worker (disadvantages person aged 45 years or more) for Certificate II, III, IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma
$750 - endorsed School-based apprentice/trainee at Certificate II, III, IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma
$1500 - Employers with an Exceptional Circumstances Certificate (declared drought areas)

For Employers - Recommencement Incentives

$750 - where apprentices/trainees recommence at Certificate III, IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma
$750 - for continued employment of School-based apprentices/trainees after students have completed Year 12 and move from school to work to continue their apprenticeship/traineeship full-time.
$1800 - for employers who take on an apprentice/trainee to continue an incomplete apprenticeship/traineeship with State Training Authority approval

For Employers - Completion Incentives

Standard Completion Incentives:
$2500 - when apprentice or trainee completes

Extra Completion Incentives
$1500 - eligible Certificate II level trainees that attracted a Declared Drought Area additional commencement incentive
$750 - Certificate II to IV level and Diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications apprentices/trainees that attracted a Mature-Aged Worker commencement incentive
$1000 - for Group Training Organisations (GTOs) that support Certificate II level trainees to completion
$1000 - for employers who successfully complete apprentices/trainees who had recommenced formally STA approved training

Student Incentives

For Apprentices

Tools For Your Trade payment incentive (from January 2011) includes five tax exempt cash payments provided to support apprentices with the costs of their training, purchases of relevant tools, and other costs associated with their apprenticeship. More >>

For Adult Apprentices

Since 1 January 2010, additional support for adult apprentices is being given as a direct payment to either an employer or the apprentice, where the apprentice is:

  • aged 25 or over at the time they commence their apprenticeship; and
  • in a Certificate III or IV level qualification in a trade occupation experiencing a skills shortage.

This support is paid to the employer or apprentice, depending on the actual wage paid to the apprentice. The weekly rate for full-time apprentices is $150 per week (up to a maximum of $7800 per annum) for the first year and $100 per week (up to a maximum of $5200 per annum) for the second year. The weekly rate for part-time Australian Apprentices is $75 per week for the first 24 months and $50 per week for the second 24 months.

For Apprentices and Trainees

Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy fortnightly payments by Centrelink: In an effort to address national skills needs and encourage people to enter Australian apprenticeships and traineeships, the Australian Government has put in place arrangements that give access to these Centrelink payments for eligible people. More >>

Further Information...

Australian Apprenticeship Centres (AACs)

Assistance on all aspects of Australian Apprenticeships can be obtained from an Australian Apprenticeships Centre (AAC). They are contracted by the Australian Government to deliver free Australian Apprenticeships Support Services, which include providing information and assistance to employers and other interested people.

Phone: Australian Apprenticeships referral line on 13 38 73.

Employing an Australian Apprentice
Apprenticeship-Traineeship Publications
Apprenticeship & traineeship  Incentives Summary

For State Information about Apprenticeships...
Queensland Apprenticeship Info: 1800 210 210

Australian Apprenticeship Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Website

This website provides information and resources for Australian Apprenticeships Centres (AACs), Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), Group Training Organisations (GTOs), Job Services Australia providers and other service providers and stakeholders. FreeCall: 1800 338 022 Web:

National Code of Good Practice for Australian Apprenticeships

This Code of Good Practice has been developed to assist employers and apprentices/trainees entering into a Training Contract to have a clear understanding of each other’s obligations and expectations. Read the Code >>

Australian Apprenticeships Access Program

The Australian Apprenticeships Access Program provides vulnerable job seekers who experience barriers to entering skilled employment with nationally recognised pre-vocational training, support and assistance. More >>

Recent news

January 2011

Changes to the' Tools For Your Trade' payment
From 1 January 2011, eligible apprentices who commence or recommence their apprenticeship on or after 1 January 2009 may be eligible for five, tax exempt cash payments of $800 at the three month point, $1000 at the 12 and 24 month points, $1200 at the 36 month point and $1500 on successful completion.

The Tools For Your Trade payment initiative is available to eligible apprentices/trainees undertaking a Certificate III or IV apprenticeship/traineeship leading to an occupation listed on the National Skills Needs List, a Certificate II, III or IV apprenticeship/traineeship in an agricultural occupation, and, if in rural and regional Australia, a horticultural occupation. Refer to the Incentives factsheet >>

Expert Panel to advise on apprenticeship reforms

23 January 2011

An Expert Panel has been appointed, led by Mr Jim McDowell, to advise on the steps needed to sustain and grow a stronger Australian Apprenticeships system and will report to the Government early in 2011.

The panel will examine apprenticeship training arrangements, including current incentives, and suggest principles and evidence to improve outcomes for both apprentices and industry. The work of the panel will be underpinned by a study on related economic costs and benefits, including research undertaken by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research.

The Panel was referenced in the 2010 Budget as part of the $661 million Skills for Sustainable Growth Package. Through the Skills for Sustainable Growth measures the Government will invest $661 million over the next four years to enable Australia to respond quickly and effectively to skills shortages.

Panel Members:

  • Jim McDowell
  • Dr John Buchanan
  • Royce Fairbrother
  • Dave Oliver
  • Marie Persson
  • Tim Shipstone
  • Simone Wetzlar