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Australian Apprenticeships – Earn While You Learn

Apprenticeships are the perfect way to build a career in a trades-based industry. Not only do apprentices gain invaluable practical experience, they also get paid to work. By supplementing workplace training with off-the-job education, apprentices gain nationally recognised qualifications in their trade.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are an arrangement between the apprentice, their employer and an industry recognised training institution. These three parties work together to provide the apprentice with training, experience and education. During their apprenticeship, the apprentice is required to complete on-the-job training as well as off-the-job classroom style education. The result is an industry recognised Diploma, Certificate Level or otherwise nationally recognised qualification.

Who Should Apply?

People keen to pursue a trade-based career are perfect candidates for an apprenticeship. Professionals such as plumbers, electricians, chefs and hairdressers usually begin their career as an apprentice. These careers all require experience and skill (i.e. more than text-book knowledge) before full qualifications are awarded.

Apprenticeships are available to people of all ages. Schools-based apprenticeships are available to youth. Adults can apply for mature-aged apprenticeships.

On the Job Training

“Earn while you learn” is a phrase commonly used to describe the key advantage of being an apprentice. Trade skills that can only be learned ‘on the job’ are taught to the apprentice by their employer. The employer must adhere to specific training guidelines to formally teach and assess the apprentice’s skills.

Formal Study

Formal study forms part of every Apprenticeship. This off-the-job leaning involves attending School, TAFE, University or other industry recognised training institution. Apprentices may be expected to attend classes and lectures, read text-books and complete online training modules. Since assessment is competency-based, apprentices are not required to sit written exams.

How Long Does it Take?

Depending on the trade, apprenticeships can take between two and four years to complete. Competency-based assessment means apprentices may graduate early, so long as they demonstrate proficiency in their trade and are able to consistently apply theory to real-world tasks.

Apprenticeship Wages

Apprentices usually receive a ‘training wage’ and may be required to work full time or part time. More information about training wages can be found here.

Financial Assistance

In most cases, the employer pays for the apprentice’s on the job training in addition to their training wage. The apprentice may be required to cover additional expenses such as course fees or purchasing tools of the trade.

The Australian government offers financial assistance to both the Employer and the Apprentice. Rules regarding assistance payments change often. Please visit for more information.

Apprenticeship vs. Traineeship

Unlike Apprenticeships, which are trade-based, Traineeships focus on non-trade qualifications. For example, traineeships are available in Business, Management, Communications and other office- or retail-based vocations.

Traineeships are generally shorter than Apprenticeships, allowing candidates to complete their qualifications in as little as 12 months. In addition, while apprenticeships are only available to new entrants into an industry, Traineeships are available to anyone, even those already working within the industry.

How to Start an Apprenticeship

In Australia, if you have completed Year 12, meeting sufficient education requirements, you can apply for an Apprenticeship without additional preparation.

If you have not completed Year 12, you may be required to complete a School to Work Transition Program, or a Pre-Apprenticeship Program before you can become an apprentice.

Australian Apprenticeship Centres offer a single point of contact for candidates and employers. Search for an Australian Apprenticeship Centre near you. Or visit the Australian Apprenticeships website for more information about apprenticeships.

Visit our Training and Development section for more information about skilling up for a career in the Resources sector.
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