Hiring Apprentices and Trainees – 5 Questions Answered

Do you want to hire an apprentice or trainee for your small business?


Trainees and apprentices are a great option for many businesses and industries, but how do you know if it’s an option for your small business and what do you do?

Here are our top 5 questions about apprentices and trainees answered.

1. What are apprentices and trainees?

In Australia apprenticeships and traineeships are formal training agreements and can lead to a nationally recognised qualification. They combine training with hands-on work in a paid job. They can be full-time, part time or school based.

Apprentices are trained in a skilled trade, such as electrical work, plumbing, cabinet making. On completion the apprentice is a qualified tradesperson.

Trainees are trained in a vocational area, such as office administration, hospitality, information technology. On completion the trainee would have received a minimum of a Certificate II in their field of work.

2. Who can be an apprentice or trainee?

Apprenticeships and traineeships aren’t just for the stereotypical school-leaver. Anyone who’s old enough to work (14 years and nine months and older) can be an apprentice or trainee. It can be a great option for adults re-entering the workforce or looking for a career change.

3. What kind of businesses and industries are best suited?

Apprenticeships and traineeships aren’t just for the typical building trades and hairdressers. They can be in more than 500 different occupations.

4. How do I find and employ an apprentice or trainee?

To find a suitable apprentice or trainee you can use the usual recruitment methods such as advertising, word-of-mouth or local employment agencies.

You may also like to contact your local group training provider. Group Training Organisations (GTO) recruit an apprentice or trainee and places them with ‘host’ employers while they do their training. The GTO is the employer of the apprentice or trainee, and is responsible for their employment benefits such wages, allowances, and super.

If you are managing the whole process yourself you’ll need to agree on an appropriate qualification, complete a training contract, agree on a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to deliver the training and develop a training plan with the RTO and your apprentice or trainee.

You can speak to your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider for further support.

You will need to give the completed contract and plan to your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider, to lodge with the relevant State and Territory Training Authorities (STAs) for registration. Once registered your local provider will be in touch to confirm and oversee the arrangements.

5. What else do I need to know?

There is generally a 90 day probation period for apprenticeships and 30 days for traineeships.

For trainees, you will need to understand trainee pay rates and trainee entitlements found at the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

For apprentices, you should use the apprentices Pay and Conditions Tool.

The conditions of employment for apprentices and trainees are the same as for other employees in the same occupation. You can find out more about the employment conditions that apply to apprentices and trainees on the Australian Apprenticeships website.

Since apprenticeships, traineeships and employee entitlements are governed by legislation, it’s critical that you consult, understand and adhere to your state/territory/national laws.