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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a formal training program where you will combine study, at an approved registered training organisation while actually working in your chosen field – so you can earn as you learn and get real world training. 

An apprenticeship is usually three to four years, and you’ll graduate as a qualified tradesperson.

Common apprenticeships include: 

  • Carpentry or building
  • Hairdressing
  • Mechanics
  • Cooking  

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 the apprenticeship. This is a contract, which must be completed with the assistance of an Australian Apprenticeships Centre, which is a free service.  

Find out the Australian Apprenticeships Centres that are contracted in your region by: 

Types of apprenticeships

There are two types of apprenticeships available in the ACT. Both types are administered by the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN). 

Australian School-based Apprenticeship (ASbA) 

An ASbA is when you work part time and do your apprenticeship training while still in school, usually through the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), or another Registered Training Organisation (RTO). This training can be counted towards your ACT Senior Secondary 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 highschool. You would need to complete between 11-20 hours of work and training each week while you’re at school, depending on your industry and the certificate you are working towards 

Students must be 15 or over to undertake a school based apprenticeship in the ACT.

For more information, please visit Starting an Apprenticeship at School. 

Australian Apprenticeship 

An Australian Apprenticeship is for both school leavers and senior high school students (at least 15 years old). Australian apprentices must go through the Australian Apprenticeship Centre to commence the apprenticeship process – from here, you will be directed to contact the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider in the ACT which is Sarina Russo – to organise your apprenticeship. 

The apprenticeship can be undertaken on a full time or part time basis, and you are responsible for applying for an apprentice job with an employer, and for enrolling in an approved course. See the federal government website Australian Apprentices for further information.

How old do I have to be to start an apprenticeship?

To begin an apprenticeship, you must be at least 15 years old.  This is the same for school-based apprentices, and school leavers

Training agreements

When you start an apprenticeship, you and your employer need to sign a training contract which sets out all the details of your apprenticeship, roles and responsibilities. 

If you are an Australian Apprentice or a school-based apprentice, you must enter a training contract with your employer, with the assistance of Sarina Russo, which is the only Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider in the ACT. This is a free service. 

Attending Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT)

Most apprentices in the ACT are undertaken through CIT, although some can be done through other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). This means the study or coursework part is done through CIT, and you do the on the job training with your employer. For a list of all qualifications offered in the ACT and the RTO who offers it, see the ACT Qualifications Register. 

Before you enrol in a course, you need to have already found an employer willing to take you on as an apprentice, who must provide a letter of support to CIT, or the RTO you are undertaking your training with.

Most apprenticeships involve attending CIT one day a week, and working the remaining four days, however this will vary if you’re completing your apprenticeship part time. 

For more information on how to enrol in an apprenticeship through CIT, visit ‘How to become an apprentice’ from CIT. 

How much should I be paid?

An apprentice must be paid either as a full-time employee or a part-time employee, for all hours spent working and undertaking the approve study component., e.g., your time at CIT. There is no such thing as a “casual” apprenticeship. However, most apprentices are paid a percentage of the regular full-time rate; for example, a second year hairdressing apprentice must be paid no less than 60% of a fully qualified hairdresser rate. 

The rate you get will depend on what industry you work in, as well as whether your employment is covered by a modern award, or an enterprise agreement 

Depending on your Award or Enterprise Agreement, there may be other allowances that you are entitled to receive, including payments for books and other training materials.  

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 work mates can treat you badly.  Employers have a legal duty to ensure the safety of all workers.  This includes protecting workers from bullying, harassment (including sexual harassment), and discrimination. 

As an apprentice, you have the same legal protections as any other employee. If you are being bullied or discriminated against at work, please check out our pages on Workplace bullying and harassment, and Discrimination in the workplace for more information.  

Apprenticeships Support Australia has put together a free guide on bullying in the workplace for apprentices, called Heads Up 

You can also contact us here if something is going on and you would like advice on your options.

How to make a complaint or enquiry

Sometimes things might go wrong with your apprenticeship, for example: 

  • Your training provider is providing poor quality education 
  • Your boss isn’t giving you time off to go to TAFE 
  • You’re not being paid properly; or 
  • You’re being bullied at work. 

For help, you can contact: 

Your union 

If you are a member of a union, you can talk to your representative or a union official about what’s going on. They will be able to tell you how they can help, and guide you through the process. Click here if you are unsure which union you can join.

National Training Complaints Hotline

The Australian Government has established the National Training Complaints Hotline, which is a portal to make your complaint. The Hotline can refer your complaint to the most appropriate authority to have your complaint considered. You can make your complaint at National Training Complaints Hotline.

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. 

To make a complaint, you will need to fill out a complaint form about an RTO. You can do that by calling them on 1300 701 801 or emailing them at [email protected]. You can also visit their website here here.

Australian Apprenticeship Centres  

Australian Apprenticeship Centres in each State and Territory can provide further information on Australian Apprenticeships. You can call them on 13 38 73 or visit their website here

Fair Work Ombudsman 

You can contact the FWO for assistance with information about apprenticeships and help with workplace entitlements for all states and territories, by phoning 13 13 94 or visiting FWO – help for apprentices and trainees. 

If you’re under 25 and have  a question about your apprenticeship, please contact us here for free information and advice.

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