Becoming an Australian Apprentice

Australian Apprenticeships include apprenticeships and traineeships and combine time at work with off-the-job training and can be full-time, part-time or school-based.

Australian Apprenticeships lead to a nationally recognised qualification and provide Australian Apprentices with the necessary job experience to pursue the career they want.

Australian Apprenticeships are available in over 500 occupations in an increasing range of industries. Some Australian Apprenticeships can be started and even completed while still at school, and some can form part of a student’s Year 12 Certificate.

For more information about Australian School-based Apprenticeships refer to the Australian Apprenticeships website.

Australian Apprenticeships are ‘competency based’ which means training can be completed as soon as the required skill level in the qualification is reached. Australian Apprenticeships include traditional trades such as automotive, hairdressing and plumbing, as well as those in newer industries such as information technology, communications and early childhood education and care. The job prospects for qualified people are vast, and the demand for skilled workers continues to increase.

Vocational education and training (VET) enables people to obtain the knowledge and skills for work in a variety of careers through nationally recognised training packages or accredited courses. VET is delivered, assessed and certified by registered training organisations (RTOs). The Canberra Institute of Technology is the only public RTO and there are also many privately operated RTOs that offer VET in the ACT.

VET training packages and accredited courses include practical learning for a variety of career pathways including trades (such as automotive and plumbing), business administration, creative arts, community services or sport and recreation.

VET can offer a time and cost effective qualification to assist you in entering or re-entering the workforce. VET graduates enter the workforce with first-hand experience as courses are based on workplace specific skills.

VET qualifications include Australian Apprenticeships and traineeships that can generally take 2 years of study, through to courses that can be completed in a shorter time frame.

An Australian Apprenticeship is a great way to get a head start in your chosen career. Some of the benefits include:

  • paid work and structured training that can be on-the- job, off-the-job or a combination of both
  • ‘competency based’ training which means you can complete your course faster if you reach the required skill level
  • course credit can be granted for existing skills and prior experience, potentially reducing the length of formal training
  • opportunities for full-time or part-time training and work
  • a pathway to nationally recognised qualifications and skills
  • a basis for further education and training over the course of your working life
  • a pathway from school to work.

Registered training organisations (RTOs) are required to charge participants a fee for administration costs upon enrolment in an Australian Apprenticeship.

RTOs set their own fees for Australian Apprenticeships training, but Skills Canberra requires a minimum fee of $350 to be charged.

For information about fees charged by each RTO for specific qualifications, refer to the ACT Qualifications Register or contact the RTO directly.


To be eligible for an ACT training contract, you must:

  • work in the ACT, and
  • be at least 15 years of age, and
  • be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or New Zealand passport holder resident for more than 6 months, or
  • an eligible visa holder, and
  • receive remuneration for your work, and
  • complete a minimum of 15 hours combined work and training per week, and
  • undertake an approved Australian Apprenticeships qualification with an approved registered training organisation, as listed on the ACT Qualifications Register, and
  • have the required supervision in the workplace for an Australian Apprentice.

In addition to the above, to be eligible for an ACT training contract an Australian School-based Apprentice must:

  • be enrolled in a school under legislation that covers education in the relevant state/territory
  • combine part time work with an employer and structured industry-approved training whilst attending school
  • continue employment and on/off-the-job training throughout the year including school holidays.

If you are not eligible for an ACT training contract or are seeking a different training pathway refer to the Skilled Capital page.

6 steps to becoming an Australian Apprentice

Step 1 – Find an employer

Find an employer that is willing to take you on as an Australian Apprentice or trainee.

You can do this by:

  • looking in the job vacancy advertisements in your local paper or on the internet
  • contacting employers in the industries you would like to work in
  • registering with the Apprenticeship Network Provider jobs board
  • contacting a group training organisation
  • contacting a Jobactive provider if you are classified as a job seeker or talking to your career advisor if you are still at school.

If you're still at school you can also consider an Australian School-based Apprenticeship, where you start your Australian Apprenticeship while at school. And don't forget Australian Apprenticeships are available for existing workers and workers of all ages. You don't have to have just finished school.

Jobactive is the Australian Government's way to get more Australians into work. It connects job seekers with employers and is delivered by a network of Jobactive providers in the ACT. Refer to the Jobactive website for further information.

Step 2 – Choose an Apprenticeship Network provider

Apprenticeship Network providers (ANPs) are non-government organisations contracted by the Australian Government to help employers and Australian Apprentices to enter into a training contract.

As at 1 February 2020 there is only one ANP servicing the ACT:

Step 3 - Sign your Australian Apprenticeship training contract

You must sign into an Australian Apprenticeship training contract within 28 days of starting your employment.

The training contract is a legally binding document that is agreed to by an Australian Apprentice and their employer. The training contract combines paid work with structured training aimed at achieving a nationally recognised qualification.

Your ANP can explain the Australian Apprenticeship system, guide you through support options available to you and facilitate the signing of the training contract.

Step 4 – Meet with your registered training organisation

Meet with your registered training organisation (RTO) to:

  • obtain a unique student identifier (USI)
  • complete a language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) assessment
  • discuss any recognition of prior learning (RPL)
  • enrol in your qualification and discuss a training plan.

The USI provides students with the ability to obtain a complete record of their vocational education and training enrolments and achievements from a single source. Training organisations cannot issue a statement of attainment or a qualification unless the student has been assigned a USI.

The LLN assessment measure whether you have an adequate level of language, literacy and numeracy skills to complete you qualification.

RPL is a way of getting any previous relevant experience such as working, training, volunteering, including activities in the community formally recognised towards a qualification. This can be a shortcut to getting a qualification because you will be formally recognised to have completed parts of the training requirements.

Step 5 – Fees and concessions

You must pay your fees by the due date (or have a payment plan in place) otherwise you may be deregistered and have your enrolment cancelled. If you are deregistered you will not be able to continue in class activities or any work experience and your attendance and assessment results will not be recorded.

You may be eligible for a 50% concession on fees if you:

  • hold a current Health Care Card
  • hold a current low income Health Care Card
  • hold a current Pensioner Concession Card
  • apply for financial hardship circumstances.

Check with your registered training provider for concession eligibility.

Step 6 – Progressing through your Australian Apprenticeship

Congratulations! You're now an Australian Apprentice. Once you have met all the requirements of the qualification both in your workplace and at your registered training organisation, you will complete your qualification.

Remember, now that you are an Australian Apprentice you have obligations to complete your coursework and attend any off-the-job training. Your employer also has obligations such as releasing you to attend off-the-job training where applicable.

More information about your obligations as an apprentice and those of your employer are outlined in the National Code of Good Practice for Australian Apprenticeships.

Throughout your training you may have questions about your options and what you should expect from your qualification or Australian Apprenticeship. Refer to Assistance and support for further information.

Finding an employer

An Australian Apprenticeship relies on an Australian Apprenticeship training contract entered into between the Australian Apprentice and their employer. As a result, before you can begin an Australian Apprenticeship, you must find a job as an Australian Apprentice in your industry of choice.

Job search websites are a good place to start. Group training organisations can also be approached for assistance, as can employment agencies. You might also consider relying on your network of family and friends in looking for opportunities. Finally, approaching employers directly can show great initiative.

Choosing a training pathway

A training pathway refers to the different ways a person can achieve a qualification. Under an Australian Apprenticeship, these pathways may include:

  • recognition of prior learning (RPL)
  • structured training and assessment with a registered training organisation (off-the-job) and in the workplace (on-the-job).

Employers, Australian Apprentices and registered training organisations identify the most appropriate training path for each Australian Apprentice and this is set out in a training plan.

The type of training plan will depend on factors such as the:

  • type of skills being developed
  • relative effectiveness of individual study as opposed to team-based learning
  • skills the Australian Apprentice already has
  • practicality of travelling to a registered training provider to attend classes
  • number of other Australian Apprentices undertaking similar training.

Choosing a qualification

Whether you had a qualification in mind before finding your employer or not, once you have found a job you should settle on your qualification and a registered training organisation (RTO) to deliver your off-the-job training. There is a wealth of resources available to assist you including:

With an employer, a qualification, and an RTO sorted, it will be time to enter into your Australian Apprenticeship training contract. An Apprenticeship Network provider can assist you and your employer to sign this contract.

Skills Canberra will consider other qualifications to be available as an Australian Apprenticeship or Australian School-based Apprenticeship pathway, subject to qualification suitability and funding availability.

A written proposal with supporting evidence must be submitted to Skills Canberra. For further information refer to the AVETARS page.

Apprenticeship Network providers

Apprenticeship Network providers (ANPs) are contracted by the Australian Government to provide one-stop shops for people wanting to take up an Australian Apprenticeship career path and for employers seeking to hire Australian Apprentices.

ANPs have targeted services that provide advice and support to Australian Apprentices and employers who need additional assistance prior to contract sign-up and during training. Employers, schools, registered training organisations, Australian Apprentices and trainees can receive assistance from their ANP about the Australian Apprenticeship system.

As at 1 February 2020, the ACT has one provider that exclusively services Australian Apprentices and employers. The provider is Sarina Russo Apprenticeships.

For more information about ANPs refer to the Australian Apprenticeships website.

Travelling interstate for your Australian Apprenticeship

A small number of Australian Apprenticeship qualifications are not delivered by any ACT registered training providers (RTOs). In these cases Australian Apprentices must travel interstate to undertake their structured training.

Training is usually delivered in blocks of time and is referred to as ‘block release’ qualifications. Block release qualifications and the RTOs that provide training are identified on the ACT Qualifications Register.

Eligible Australian Apprentices are entitled to a contribution towards the cost of travel and accommodation to assist them to attend off-the-job training interstate. The funds are credited directly by electronic funds transfer to their bank account. Australian Apprentices need to book their own travel and accommodation arrangements.

Eligible Australian apprentices are paid $70.00 towards travel costs to Sydney. If travel is to Newcastle, Brisbane or Melbourne only and by air a payment of $444.30 is made to assist with the airfare.

Where an Australian Apprentice has received travel support and does not attend the off-the-job training they are required to refund the full amount of the money paid in advance.

A daily allowance of $30.00 is paid to assist with living expenses. Students travelling to Sydney receive the daily allowance for the day prior to commencement of training. Airfares will be paid in advance on receipt of a written request.

All other support funds are paid after attendance at training by completing an Application for Interstate Training Travel Support (DOCX 59KB) or (PDF 259KB). Make sure the trainer signs and stamps the form and returns it to Skills Canberra after attending each block training. Payments will only be made for claims within 12 weeks of the block training.

When the interstate training is completed ensure the RTO has provided you with a supporting statement of the:

  • qualification being achieved through a competency based system
  • competence being demonstrated both in the workplace and off-the-job.