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What is an apprenticeship?

When can I take up an apprenticeship?

Types of apprenticeships

How much will I be paid?

How long will it take me to finish an apprenticeship?

How do I apply?

I’m an apprentice and someone is bullying or discriminating against me at work. What can I do?

Who can help me with problems?


What is an apprenticeship?

Check out these videos of Young Victorians and the cool things they’ve done with apprenticeships:

As an apprentice, you will learn new skills while actually working. You will combine work with training so you can earn as you learn.
An apprenticeship can be full-time, part-time or school-based.  You are required to find your own apprenticeship, and once you do, you and your employer must register with the Department of Education and Training.

You can find useful info on apprenticeships here: and

When can I take up an apprenticeship?

To begin an apprenticeship, you must be at least 15.  Since you must still attend school, you can do it either as a school-based apprenticeship, or work and train outside school hours, though in that case, you must follow the time limits for working.

For some occupations, a minimum age is required due to the risk tor health, safety or morals for minors for this special kind of work. For example, you need to be 16 to work with dangerous equipment and 18 to work in areas that serve alcohol.

FWO has an online learning course for young workers to help them get off to the best start in their new job. It’s called Starting a new job’ and can be accessed from:

Types of apprenticeships

Generally, you would be required to do a minimum of 7 work and 6 training hours each week, averaged over 3 periods of 4 months per year. 

There are two different types of apprenticeships:

  1. School-based Part Time Apprenticeship

    If you are 15 you can undertake a school-based apprenticeship while you are still in school. This training can be counted as part of your Year 12 Certificate. If you complete both the formal and the on-the-job training whilst still at school you will be able to be a full-time 2nd or 3rd year apprentice after you finish your VCAL. Your training will be split over 7 hours work, and 6 hours training per week.

  2. Australian Apprenticeship

For more information, please visit:

An Australian Apprenticeship is for both school leavers and senior high school students. Australian apprentices must go to an Australian Apprenticeship Centre to complete a Training Contract. The apprenticeship can be undertaken on a full time or part time basis and a minimum of 15 hours of combined work and training must be completed each week. It has basically the same features as the regular school-based apprenticeship programme, only organised at a national rather than state level.

You can find more information at:

How much will I be paid?

As an apprentice, you should be paid a wage that reflects the time you spend at work and in training. These wages can vary according to:

  •  the industry you are employed in, based on the modern award or enterprise agreement that applies to you;
  • the stage you have reached in your apprenticeship;
  • the skills you have acquired.
  • For more information about how much you should be paid as an apprentice visit
  • Can I get financial support?
  • Financial support may be available:
  • for purchasing your trade tools or equipment;
  • if you are living away from your family home;
  • if you travel interstate for your training (Block Release Training);
  • if you have a disability; or
  • through Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY to subsidise a low wage.

For more information, you can contact your nearest Australian Apprenticeship Centre:
Phone: 13 38 73

How long will it take me to finish an apprenticeship?

Depending on your chosen occupation, an apprenticeship lasts for up to four years. If you start during year 10, you may complete your training and gain a qualification within as little as a year.
For more information:
How do I find an Apprenticeship?
There are 6 steps to a successful start in a new apprenticeship:

1    Choose your desired occupation:

There are more than 500 occupations to choose from, so you should start thinking about which apprenticeship suits you best. What are your interests and strengths? What would you enjoy doing and what skills would you like to learn?
The following websites can help you answer this question:

2    Find an employer and start work with them:

If you know what you want do you need to find an employer who will give you a job.  There are different ways that you can do this.
•    Calling the Employment Services Information Line on 13 62 68 to find a local Job Search Australia provider.
•    Applying for jobs advertised in the newspaper.
•    Searching the internet:
•    Using your personal networks - talk to family and friends to see if they know anyone who could employ you as an apprentice or trainee.
•    Speaking to your school - whether this is to a particular teacher or your careers centre.
•    Contacting a group training organisation directly or calling 1800 819 747 or going to  to find a group training organisation that can place you with a host employer.

3    Fill in the paperwork:

First of all, you and your employer need to sign a training contract which documents the roles and responsibilities you and your employer will have.
Note that you can only be an Australian Apprentice if you enter into a training contract with your employer. If you need help with this, contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Centre at

4    Find a training provider:

The government registers training organisations (like TAFE) to be Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to provide training for apprentices.

RTOs will work with you and your employer to help develop a training plan, deliver training, assess your achievement of skills, and issue the qualification on successful completion of your apprenticeship or traineeship. Training providers are different in their offers. It is both the responsibility of you and your employer to find a suitable RTO.  To find an RTO, go to

You will also need a training plan that sets out what you will learn, where you will learn it, how you will be trained, and how and when you will be assessed. Your training provider will help you with this.

5    The probation period:

The probation is usually a period of up to 90 days in which you work for your new employer but either of you can end the employment without naming reasons or further problems. Your employer cannot end your employment for unlawful reasons such as discrimination. It is designed so that you and your employer can see if you can work together and for you to see if it is really what you want to do.
Once the probationary period has finished, the training contract becomes binding on both parties. It can usually only be cancelled or transferred when both you and your employer agree.   

You can find out more about probation periods at:

6    Getting competent for the workplace:

Once you have completed the training and other requirements under the training program, the RTO will assess you and confirm that you have completed your qualifications and you are now competent for the workplace.

How do I apply?

To get an apprenticeship, you have to make a good impression on your future employer.

This starts with your written application and ends in your all-round impression in the job interview.

1    Letter of application:

Your application is the first contact you will have with an employer. The employer will use it to help decide if you are suitable for the job and if they would like to give you an interview.

It is most important to take time and care with your application. Make it look good and make sure all the information is clear and easy to read. Make sure you use paper that is A4 in size.

Here you can find help writing your application letter and a résumé:

2    The interview:

The interview is the critical point in getting a job. Here you have to convince the employer that you are ‘the one’ she/he is searching for.

That means you have to be prepared and that means a lot more than being dressed neatly and appropriately and being there on time.

Equally if not even more important is what you will say and how you will say it.

An interview can be a frightening situation, so you have to be confident. This is a lot easier when you are prepared for the questions and the whole procedure.
To prepare for your interview do some research about your employer so that you know about them and have a think about the questions the employer may ask and your responses, for example what has prompted you to apply for the apprenticeship?

I’m an apprentice and someone is bullying or discriminating against me at work. What can I do?

Just because you’re an apprentice, it doesn’t mean your boss or workmates can treat you badly.  You have the same protections as any other employee. If you are being bullied or discriminated against at work, you have options.  Please check out our pages on Bullying in the Workplace and Discrimination for more information.  You can also send us a Lawmail if something is going on and we can give you advice on your options.

Who can help me with problems?

Australian Skills Quality Authority
You can contact the Australian Skills Quality Authority if you are having problems with your vocational training. They are responsible for putting together the courses and training courses that you undertake, and they would probably like to know if anything goes wrong!

To make a complaint, you will need to fill out a complaint form about an RTO.  You can do that at:
Telephone: 1300 701 801

Australian Apprenticeship Centres
Australian Apprenticeship Centres in each State and Territory can provide further information on Australian Apprenticeships. Contact them:
Phone: 13 38 73

Skills Victoria
Skills Victoria is responsible for the operation of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system (including Australian Apprenticeships)  
For more information contact:
Skills Victoria
Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development PO Box 266 Melbourne, VIC, 3001
Ph: +61 3 9651 9999

Fair Work Ombudsman
You can contact the FWO for assistance with information about apprenticeships and help with workplace entitlements for all states and territories.

Phone: 13 13 94
Online enquiries:



NCYLC would like to express thanks to Hall & Wilcox and the Fair Work Ombudsman for assisting us with the preparation of this material.

This page was last updated in March 2017.


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