Apprentices and Trainees

What defines an Apprentice or Trainee?

An employee who has a formal arrangement with an employer and registered training organisation (RTO), to partake in practical work experience whilst completing a qualification for the acquisition of a skill or trade. 

Individuals can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship with an employer, or an employee can approach their employer to discuss the possibility of such. 


An Apprenticeship provides the employee with the opportunity to become certified within a skill or trade qualification. This is usually completed within 3 – 4 years of employment, subject to satisfactory skill progression. For example, a plumber, builder, hairdresser. 


A Traineeship provides the employee with a certificate of qualification within an industry. This is usually completed within 1 -2 years of employment, subject to satisfactory skill progression. For example, childcare, administration, or horticulture certifications.

An Apprentice or Trainee can be:

  • Any individual that is old enough to work with part time or full-time availability;
  • An adult, defined as commencing such at the age of 21 years or older. Usually, individuals re-entering the workforce after some time away or looking to make a career change; OR
  • A school leaver or high school student within a transition program, combining secondary and college education with practical work placements, aimed at encouraging young people into trade and vocational training qualifications.

How do they differ?

Traineeships are more flexible than an apprenticeship with increased opportunity to work and study at the Trainee’s pace, allowing theory components to be completed at home and skill assessment conducted on the job. Whereas an apprenticeship requisites on campus TAFE blocks of theory and practical testing for succession.

Traineeships do not requisite as many hours for completion in comparison to an apprenticeship, with certification received in response to the completion of mandatory hours of work placement (usually 120 to 150 hours) and all requisite units. 

Employer Obligations

Employers have the same obligations to apprentices and trainees as they do all other employees in consideration of employment conditions and entitlements. Apprentices and trainees often receive additional entitlements specific to industry and trade, which sees them be paid for training hours and receive funding or reimbursement for the provision of necessary tools and/or equipment.

Employing an Apprentice or Trainee

When an employer finds a suitable trainee or apprentice, a government training organisation will handle the registration process and equip the individual with all documents and correspondence necessary. Such as, the collection of evidence for eligibility and suitability, a signed training contract, registration with an RTO, notice of required acquisition and the provision of equipment, and an individualised training plan.

All apprenticeships have a probation period of 90 days and traineeships 30 days, providing the employee and employer with the opportunity to determine if the arrangement is an agreeable fit. As the probation period lapses the relationship between the employer and employee becomes contracted for the term of the apprenticeship or traineeship.

If you are thinking about hiring or have any queries surrounding the exiting of an apprentice or trainee, contact the Assurance HR Management team today on 1800 577 515 and we shall assist you in achieving a stress free transition and positive outcome for all.

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