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Frequently Asked Questions About Apprenticeships and Traineeships

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is job, where the employee also learns their trade whilst working. This can be full-time or part-time and is usually undertaken with the understanding that the apprentice will pursue a career in their chosen industry at some point in the future. 

What exactly does an apprenticeship involve?

In the past, apprenticeships often meant doing menial tasks around a workplace for little money in order to ‘work your way up’ from the bottom. Today, while any apprentice will tell you that doing these tasks is still important, there are generally more structured training elements allowing you to gain formal qualifications as part of your apprenticeship.

Who is eligible for an Australian apprenticeship?

Just about anyone can combine training and work with an Australian apprenticeship. Even if you are already employed, you can switch career path or even move further along the same one. School-based apprentices must undertake the role in conjunction with their studies; it is necessary to complete year 10, 11 and 12 if you choose to do an apprenticeship at the same time. The only real limitations are placed on those who do not have full visas. Only Australian and New Zealand citizens who entered the country on a valid passport are guaranteed access to apprenticeship and traineeship schemes. The legal right to work in Australia does not necessarily guarantee the right to participate in the apprenticeship scheme. To find out if you are eligible, contact your local apprenticeship centre.

Can I do an apprenticeship part time? 

Yes. However, you must be available to work on your apprenticeship for a minimum of 15 hours per week averaged out for four weeks. Similarly, day hires cannot have their work counted towards apprenticeships – you need to be formally contracted for work to count as part of the scheme. 

Am I too old for an apprenticeship?

Never! In fact, some states and territories have special schemes encouraging experienced hires to take part. Employers value your extra experience as well as the unique expertise you could bring to the workplace. 

Is it easy to find an apprenticeship?

Whilst it is true to say that there is an apprenticeship out there for everyone, some sectors – carpentry, electrical, mechanical and plumbing industries being examples – are more competitive than others. This reflects the popularity of these industries in the wider world and the relative lack of training opportunities available. However, don’t let this put you off your chosen industry; some of the most difficult sectors are amongst the most rewarding. Conversely, so are some of the least popular. Be confident that you will find an apprenticeship if you try hard enough, just make sure it is what you want to do and that you have bags of enthusiasm.

How do I find an apprenticeship?

Through your local Australian Apprenticeship Centre. They will have information on local employers and be able to direct you to ones who can help. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to contact companies directly; they will be impressed by your initiative and should be able to help you with some pointers if they don’t have anything available. After all, what’s the worst that could happen by asking?

Will an Australian Apprenticeship help my career prospects?

Almost  certainly, yes. You will be able to gain experience and qualifications – two of the most valuable assets for any employer. It should be the first step on the road to success. However, it is also worth remembering you will need to work hard to get the most out of the opportunity.

How much do apprentices earn?

Employers are bound by the National Training Wage Award System which outlines how much apprentices should earn. Wages also depend on your existing level of education and training, your age and the industry you’re in. Contact the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for more information.

However, remember that apprenticeship schemes are designed as a stepping stone on the ladder to gainful employment, and so you should not be too discouraged if you don’t start earning lots of cash straight away.

What if I can’t get an apprenticeship in my preferred industry?

This is always a dilemma for trainees and one which only they can answer. Some industries are more difficult to get into and (generally) have more strenuous requirements than others. If you are worried, talk to an advisor at your local Australian Apprenticeship Centre; at the very least, they will be able to discuss your application with you and help you work out what is in your best interests. 

What can I do to improve my chances of finding an apprenticeship?

Be enthusiastic. Put yourself in an employer’s shoes. They have received loads of applications but have no idea who to go for. How would you decide?  Apprenticeships are difficult for trainees, particularly as it is often many people’s first experience of the world of work. Make sure the employer knows you will be prepared to go that extra mile. 

What happens if I decide the apprenticeship I’m doing is not for me?

This is a difficult one and again, something only you can decide. Be honest with your employer; they may be able to allay your concerns, but also give you some advice about how best to move forward. Remember, the apprenticeship might seem hard now, but it could be rewarding in the future. 

Don’t forget to visit our Training and Development page for more information about securing employment in the Resources industry.
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