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What is an apprenticeship?

As an apprentice, you will learn new skills while actually working – that means ‘learning by doing’. It also combines work with training so you can earn as you learn.

Most of your training will be on the job while working for an employer who helps you to learn their trade. An informal, theoretical education may also be involved.

An apprenticeship can be full-time, part-time or school-based. Apprentices need to sign a Training Contract with their employer and register it with the Territory’s Department of Education and Training (DET).

When can I take up an apprenticeship?

You can start an apprenticeship even while you are still at school. This means you can finish Years 11 and 12 while you work.

You are not allowed to leave school to start a full-time apprenticeship if you are under 15 years of age.

If you are under 18 years old, a parent or guardian has to co-sign your contract, which means that you can’t start an apprenticeship without their consent.

For some occupations, a minimum age is required due to the risk for health, safety or morals for minors for the specific kind of work.

Types of apprenticeships

Australian School-Based Apprenticeship (“ASBA”)

You can undertake an Australian School-Based Apprenticeship while you are still in school if you are above 15 years old. You will get your ACT Year 12 certificate as well as a nationally recognised vocational qualification when you complete your Apprenticeship.

More information can be found at

A Certificate II qualification requires a minimum of 8 hours (equivalent to one day) in the workplace and a minimum of 3 hours off the job training per week. A Certificate III qualification has a greater time and work commitment and may require further work and study after the completion of Year 12.

Australian Apprenticeship

An Australian Apprenticeship is open to school leavers and students. It can include both apprenticeships and traineeships. Australian apprentices must go to an Australian Apprenticeship Centre to complete a Training Contract and choose the right qualification for them (normally, an approved Australian Apprenticeships qualification with an approved Registered Training Organisation.) 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.

More information can be found 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.

Find out how much you are going to earn:

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:

How long will it take me to finish an apprenticeship?

Depending on your chosen occupation, an apprenticeship lasts for up to two years. If you start during year 10, you may complete your training and gain a qualification within as little as a year.

These guides have 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 some possibilities of how to 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.
  • 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 your responsibilities 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. 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.   

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-around impression in the job-interview.

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:

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 neat 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 work mates 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 contact us here 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 a registered training organisation.  You can do that at:

Australian Apprenticeship Centres

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

Skills Canberra

Skills Canberra is responsible for the provision of strategic advice and the overall management of vocational education and training (VET) and higher education in the ACT.

For more information contact:

  • Address: Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, GPO Box 158, Canberra, ACT, 2601
  • Phone: +61 2 6205 8555
  • Web:
  • Email: [email protected]

If you’re under 25 and have a question about apprenticeships that we haven’t answered here, please contact us here and we can give you free information and advice.

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


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