Apprenticeships and traineeships are formal training arrangements that combine training and employment and lead to nationally recognised qualifications. An apprentice enters into a contract of training or training agreement with an employer, which imposes mutual obligations on both parties.

Group training offers an alternative employment arrangement. The group training organisation (GTO) recruits the apprentice or trainee and takes on the role of employer. The apprentice or trainee is placed with a 'host' employer while they undertake training.

As at 30 June 2021, there were 341 385 apprentices and trainees in-training in Australia (Source: NCVER’s Apprentices and trainees 2021 – June quarter).

What is the difference between apprenticeships and traineeships?

Apprenticeships usually take three to four years to complete and lead to a trade qualification. Traineeships provide vocational qualifications (minimum of a Certificate II) to work in a particular industry or occupation and generally take approximately one to two years to complete. Traineeships are now part of the Australian Apprenticeships system.

Australian Apprenticeships

Australian Apprenticeships is the new name (from 1 July 2006) for the scheme formerly known as New Apprenticeships. Often referred to as apprenticeships or traineeships, Australian Apprenticeships are available in a variety of certificate levels in more than 500 occupations across Australia in traditional trades, as well as in a diverse range of emerging careers in most sectors of business and industry.

Australian Apprenticeships can be undertaken by anyone of working age. No previous qualification is required and it is open to school-leavers, those re-entering the workforce or adult workers looking to change their careers. Students in Year 11 or 12 can begin their apprenticeship or traineeship while still at school. Apprentices and trainees can combine time at work with training, either full-time or part-time or school-based.

Australian School-based Apprenticeships

An Australian School-based Apprenticeship is an Australian Apprenticeship undertaken part-time while the apprentice is at school. It offers hands-on industry experience and the ability to work towards or complete a nationally recognised qualification while they complete their secondary school certificate.

Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP)

The Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) offers financial incentives to eligible employers who take on an Australian Apprentice and personal benefits to individuals to encourage them to enter into skills-based training. Incentives and personal benefits include: Rural and Regional Skills Shortage incentive; Trade Support Loans and Living Away From Home Allowance. AAIP was scheduled to be replaced by a new, streamlined incentives program, the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships (IAA), from 1 July 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the extension of the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Wage Subsidy to 31 March 2022, the implementation of IAA is now scheduled to commence from 1 July 2022.

Australian Apprenticeships Support Network (AASN)

The Australian Apprenticeships Support Network (AASN) replaced the national network of Australian Apprenticeships Centres on 1 July 2015. The Network provides advice and support services to apprentices and employers.

Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS)

The Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service (AATIS) is a Commonwealth-funded service that provides online access to Australian Apprenticeships training information, job and training package pathway charts and marketing resources for registered training organisations and other stakeholders. The service was previously called NATINFO.

Group training organisations (GTOs)

Group training organisations employ apprentices and trainees and place them with host employers who are usually small to medium-sized businesses. Host employers provide on-the-job training and experience, while the GTO organises off-the-job training, and handles recruitment, job rotation and payroll.

Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships

Pre-apprenticeship and pre-traineeship courses provide initial training in a particular industry or occupation. Successful completion of the course can assist participants to obtain an apprenticeship or traineeship and may enable the term of the training agreement to be reduced.

Higher apprenticeships

Higher apprenticeships qualify people at Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level 5 (diploma) or above, which may or may not be undertaken as a contract of training. Two industry-led higher apprenticeship pilots were funded by the Australian Government under stream two of the Alternative delivery pilots project in 2016: Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeships Project; and Higher Apprenticeships in professional services.

Where to go for more information

How to cite this overview

NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2022, Getting to know VET overview: Apprenticeships and traineeships, VET Knowledge Bank, NCVER, Adelaide, <>.

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