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Policy initiatives > Program delivery > Australian Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships are formal training arrangements that combine training and employment and lead to nationally recognised qualifications. This section gives a brief introduction to the subsidised training and other initiatives of the Commonwealth and the states and territories that relate to apprenticeships and traineeships.

Under the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform, made between the Commonwealth and the States, one of the priorities for the new National Skills Agreement to replace the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development (NASWD) is 'Promoting apprenticeships and other employment-based training, including pre-apprenticeships, and undertaking reforms to boost geographic mobility and labour supply'.

National

Australian Apprenticeships includes apprenticeships, traineeships, pre-apprenticeships, and higher apprenticeships in more than 500 occupations. Australian Apprenticeships are available to anyone of working age with eligibility to work in Australia, regardless of their level of education. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has responsibility for apprenticeships and traineeships for the federal government, and the Australian Apprenticeships website provides information for employers, apprentices and trainees.

The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) is the first point of contact for all queries about apprenticeships. The providers give personalised advice and support services from pre-commencement to completion. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment contracts the Apprenticeship Network providers while a Memorandum of Agreement between the Australian and State Governments formalises the cooperative monitoring of services of AASN Providers.

Created in 2001, the Training and Youth Internet Management System (TYIMS) is the information technology (IT) system operated by the Australian Government that tracks Australian apprentice and trainee and employer relations, determines eligibility for, and makes payments.

Incentives:

The Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program Summary provides an overview of the incentives currently provided by the Australian government. The incentives include:

  • Commencement incentives
  • Recommencement incentives
  • Completion incentives
  • Additional Identified Skills Shortage payment (AISS) - available to eligible employers and apprentices for 10 occupations experiencing national skills shortages
  • Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy trial
  • Australian School-based Apprenticeship incentive
  • Assistance for Australian Apprentices with Disability
  • Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements
  • Mature Aged Worker incentives
  • Payments to Australian Apprentices
  • Rural and Regional Skills Shortage incentive
  • Supporting Apprentices and Trainees (final claims for payment must be submitted by 30 June 2021)
  • Support for Adult Australian Apprentices
  • Trade Support Loans - the Trade Support Loans Priority List identifies the list of qualifications and occupations eligible to receive a loan.

The guidelines and appendices to the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) are available from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP) was scheduled to be replaced on 1 July 2021 with a new, simplified and streamlined program, however its commencement was deferred due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2024, the first phase of the new Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System (AAIS) will provide wage subsidies for eligible employers in priority occupations. Hiring incentives will be available for employers of apprentices undertaking a qualification in an occupation that does not qualify for the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List. From 1 July 2024, following a checkpoint to assess progress, support will only be available for priority occupations, through a mix of employer and apprentice payments.

National Agreements supporting the funding of Australian Apprenticeships:

  • The JobTrainer Fund was announced as part of the Australian Government economic response to COVID-19. The Australian Government allocated $500 million for the fund in 2020-21, to be matched by contributions from state and territory governments. The JobTrainer Schedule establishes shared funding arrangements between the Commonwealth and states and territories. The fund supports a rapid increase in low or no fee training places for jobseekers, school leavers and young people in areas of identified skills need and/or employment growth, to support them into employment as Australia emerges from the COVID‐19 pandemic. Under the JobTrainer package, the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy was also available to small and medium-sized business employers to retain apprentices and trainees in work. As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Australian Government announced it would commit an additional $500 million, to be matched by state and territory governments, to extend the program until 31 December 2022.
  • The purpose of the Skilling Australians Fund is to contribute to improved employment outcomes by supporting Australians to obtain the skills and training they need for jobs in demand through increasing the uptake of apprenticeships and traineeships and other relevant employment-related training. Managed through a project based National Partnership, the fund was established to ensure that the businesses that benefit from employing skilled migrants are also skilling Australians. Employers that sponsor migrants under the temporary skill shortage visa and certain permanent skills visas are required to pay a levy to generate revenue for the fund. From 2019-20 to 2021-22, the Commonwealth will provide an estimated financial contribution to the States of $50 million each year plus actual revenue from the levy collected in the previous financial year, with contributions to be matched by the states. Payment to the states is contingent on reaching the agreed benchmarks of additional apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship and higher apprenticeship commencements above the agreed baseline commencements, and milestones set out in the states’ project schedules. Any commencements counted are not intended to duplicate training efforts under the JobTrainer program. The Agreement expires on 30 June 2022.
  • The National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development (NASWD) addresses delivery of services across the skills and workforce development sector. The National Agreement is associated with the Skills and Workforce Development National Specific Purpose Payments (SPP), where the Australian Government provides funding of around $1.5 billion annually to state and territory governments to support them in the delivery of VET services and the running of their training systems. On 15 November 2019, the Treasurer and the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business requested the Productivity Commission to review the NASWD. Following an interim report released in June 2020 the Productivity Commission released its final report on the review of the NASWD on 21 January 2021. The Australian, state and territory governments have committed to work collaboratively on long-term improvements to the VET sector through a new National Skills Agreement by August 2021.

New South Wales

Apprenticeships and traineeships in New South Wales (NSW) are administered under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001, which was reviewed and amended in 2017. This Act provides the framework which supports and protects employers and their apprentices and trainees. Qualifications from nationally agreed training packages are identified by industry as being suitable to be delivered as an apprenticeship or traineeship and are established in New South Wales using a Vocational Training Order (VTO). The VTO specifies the qualification, length of apprenticeship or traineeship and probationary period. Apprenticeships and traineeships are published on the Training Services NSW website in the Commissioner's Information Bulletins (CIB).

The National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund (NPSAF) schedule for NSW provides total funding of $676.674 million over the four years for initiatives including the expansion of:

Three NSW Government initiatives provide fee-free training if the apprenticeship or traineeship is funded under Smart and Skilled:

The Apprenticeship and Traineeship Policy page contains information to assist the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) to operate in the NSW Apprenticeship and Traineeship system. It includes access to NSW regulatory and policy information and guidelines, forms and statistical information.

Victoria

In Victoria, the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 contains the legislative requirements for apprenticeships and traineeships. The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) regulates apprenticeships and traineeships in Victoria, and provides information for apprentices, trainees, employers and about group training organisations (GTOs).

Victorian apprentices and trainees and their employers may qualify for incentives made available by the Commonwealth government where the training meets the eligibility criteria. Victorian Government programs and initiatives for apprentices and trainees include:

  • Apprenticeships Victoria (AV) is a 2020-21 budget commitment (p.38). It was established to connect apprentices with Big Build projects and support 1,500 opportunities each year to work on some of the state’s biggest projects. AV is a new division within the Department of Education and Training, and is a partnership between the Victorian Government, major project employers and the TAFE and training system.
  • The Free TAFE for priority courses initiative began on 1 January 2019. Under this initiative, 18 apprenticeship pathway courses (pre-apprenticeships) at certificate II level are available in 12 industry sectors.
  • Skills First is a set of reforms for the training and TAFE sector. Part of Skills First for Industry included a new funded course list that was better aligned to industry needs. The list can be filtered to display apprenticeship or traineeship courses that are eligible for subsidised training.
  • Trade apprentices may be eligible to receive a discount on vehicle registration.
  • The 'Quality apprenticeships to drive jobs opportunities in the modern economy' program also included the reintroduction of trade papers.

Victoria is not a signatory to the Skilling Australians Fund.

Queensland

Apprenticeships and traineeships in Queensland are administered under the Further Education and Training Act 2014. The Queensland Government passed legislation on 22 April 2016 to establish a permanent training ombudsman as part of its plan to improve quality training and reinvigorate the VET sector. The Office of the Queensland Training Ombudsman offers a free, confidential and independent service to review and resolve enquiries and complaints from anyone in the VET system including students, RTOs, apprentices, trainees, employers and other stakeholders.

Funded training administered through the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training includes:

  • Pre-approved registered training organisations (known as Skills Assure suppliers) are funded to provide training and assessment for most apprenticeships and some traineeships under the User Choice program.
  • People under the age of 25 who commence one of the 139 priority apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications from 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2022 may qualify for the full cost of training to be subsidised under the Free apprenticeships initiative.
  • The Free TAFE for under 25s initiative provides free training for eligible Queenslanders under the age of 25 years in 26 priority qualifications, with delivery only available at TAFE Queensland and Central Queensland University.
  • Under Skilling Queenslanders for Work, Queenslanders may be able to commence an apprenticeship or traineeship at a reduced, or no, cost.
  • Information on apprenticeships and traineeships approved for delivery in Queensland, including details on supporting courses and qualifications, restricted callings and Skills Assure suppliers can be accessed using the Queensland Training Information Service (QTIS).

Queensland is not a signatory to the Skilling Australians Fund.

South Australia

The traineeship and apprenticeship system in South Australia (SA) was administered under the Training and Skills Development Act 2008. The Training and Skills Development (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced to amend the Act and the updated South Australian Skills Act 2008 (the SAS Act) came into operation on 1 July 2021. These updates came about from consultation on an amendment Bill in 2020. Key changes include the establishment of the South Australian Skills Commission (SASC) and Commissioner. Until the Act came into effect, the Skills Commissioner, appointed in March 2021, was chair of the Training and Skills Commission (TaSC). The functions of the South Australian Training Advocate were also transferred to the SASC. The Traineeship and Apprenticeship Pathways (TAP) Schedule provides a consolidated list of occupations that have been declared under the Training and Skills Development Act 2008 as trades (apprenticeships) or declared vocations (traineeships) in SA.

Skilling South Australia, launched in September 2018, focuses on increasing apprenticeships and traineeships in SA and creating more jobs in the state. Skilling South Australia is the primary project agreed under the Skilling Australians Fund which states the initiative is a four year project to reform the vocational education and training (VET) market to meet future demands, shift perceptions of VET, and pilot and embed new models of training delivery that lead to sustainable skilled careers, meet industry need and support the State's economy. The estimated total budget stated in the SA schedule is $309.82 million. Skilling South Australia projects partner with businesses and training providers to co-design and build tailored approaches to meet specific workforce needs.

Additional support for employers of apprentices and trainees introduced by the SA government include:

Western Australia

The Western Australia (WA) Department of Training and Workforce Development Apprenticeship Office registers and administers training contracts and regulates the apprenticeship system in Western Australia, in accordance with Part 7 of the Vocational Education and Training Act 1996, the associated Regulations, and the WA Apprenticeship and traineeship policy.

The project agreed in the National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund (NPSAF) schedule for WA is 'Jobs and Skills WA' with a total budget of $241.851 million. The project comprises expanding the Jobs and Skills WA program to include a new employer incentive scheme, an enterprise training program initially targeting the social assistance and allied health sector, a work placement program, expanding the Pre-apprenticeship Program, and initiatives to respond and recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Incentives and wage subsidies offered by the WA government include:

  • Jobs and Skills WA Employer Incentive
  • Apprenticeship and Traineeship Reengagement Incentive
  • Jobs and Skills WA Defence Industry Incentive
  • Construction Training Fund (CTF)
  • Western Australian Group Training Program (WAGTP)
  • Travel and Accommodation Allowance (TAA).

Funded training is included on the apprenticeship and eligible traineeship lists.

Tasmania

The training and workforce development system in Tasmania is established under the Training and Workforce Development Act 2013 and incorporates the vocational education and training (VET) system, including the apprenticeship and traineeship system.

Tasmania's project agreed in their National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund (NPSAF) schedule, 'Building Tasmania’s Skills', comprises a number of initiatives focussed on increasing the number of apprentices, trainees and employment-related training, including:

The following qualifications have been approved as apprenticeships or traineeships which may be undertaken under a training contract in Tasmania. This table, provided by the Department of State Growth, also includes whether the training is funded under User Choice.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory (NT) User Choice Funding Program allows employers, together with the apprentices and trainees they employ, to choose which registered training organisation (RTO) will provide them with the training and assessment services and to negotiate key aspects of the training such as where, how and when it will be provided. Qualifications available for apprenticeship and traineeship delivery in the NT are approved under the Training and Skills Development Act 2016 and listed on the NT apprenticeships and traineeships database. Entries in the database include a description and how long it will take to complete; whether it can be completed part-time or while at school; what NT providers, if any, are delivering the training; and if the RTO receives government funding.

NT is a signatory to the National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund (NPSAF). Projects agreed in the schedule include:

  • The Territory Workforce Program (TWP) that provides grants to NT businesses, industry associations and other organisations for projects that help increase participation and completion of apprenticeships and traineeships, including pre-apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships, and apprentice-like training.
  • Training providers, industry associations and community groups can apply for funding for pre-employment training programs, with priority given to programs that lead to employment in occupations with skills shortages and difficult to fill occupations.

Australian Capital Territory

The Training and Tertiary Education Act 2003 regulates apprenticeships and traineeships in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Objects of the Act are also to support quality assurance and best management practices for vocational education and training; and encourage awareness in the community of the need for, and to promote the development of, vocational education and training that is relevant to industry.

The Future Skills for Future Jobs (FSFJ) Grants Program is an ACT Government initiative delivered with funding support from the ACT and Australian Governments as part of the ACT's commitments to the National Partnership on the Skilling Australians Fund (NPSAF). The FSFJ Grants Program provides funding for innovative projects that promote market diversity and aim to increase the number of Australian Apprenticeship commencements in the ACT. Expressions of interest (EOI) for a FSFJ Grant may be submitted by businesses and organisations. Shortlisted applicants are invited to participate in a co-development process with Skills Canberra.

The ACT Vocational Education and Training Administration Records System (AVETARS) public interface provides access to the ACT Qualifications Register, which lists all current and historical qualifications available for training in the ACT, their nominal duration, the registered training organisations (RTOs) that deliver them, and the subsidies offered to those RTOs by the ACT Government for their delivery; a list of RTOs in the ACT, including their contact details and the qualifications they deliver; and an online form for RTOs to apply for a Training Initiative Funding Agreement. Additional functionality is available via user accounts.

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