Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In Skip to Content

Apprenticeships and traineeships

An opportunity to be paid while learning

An apprenticeship or traineeship is a training contract between an employer and an employee (the apprentice or trainee), with the apprentice or trainee learning the skills of an occupation or trade.

An apprenticeship or traineeship enables you to become qualified in an industry while working as an employee in that industry.

An apprenticeship or traineeship is the pathway to a career in one of more than 500 professions across a wide range of industries.

An apprenticeship leads to becoming a tradesperson, such as a plumber, a carpenter, an electrician, a motor mechanic, a fitter and turner or a hairdresser. Apprenticeships can take up to four years to complete.

A traineeship leads to an occupation, such as childcare worker, business administrator, IT systems technician or retail or hospitality service employee. Traineeships are usually shorter programs of one to two years.

In summary, as an apprentice or trainee, you can:

  • learn valuable, nationally recognised job skills
  • get paid while learning
  • combine formal training from a TAFE institute or other training provider with employment.

Are there different pathways to completing an apprenticeship or traineeship?

As a student, you can choose from many different ways to enter and complete an apprenticeship or traineeship. Gaining employment as an apprentice can be quite competitive so it pays to be well prepared. Completing your VCE or VCAL is a good start.

In addition, undertaking a pre-apprenticeship as part of your VCE or VCAL studies lets you test whether you really like this type of work while gaining credit towards your senior secondary certificate. Completing a VCE VET program will give you an advantage when applying for an apprenticeship.

You can also do a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship as part of your VCE or VCAL. You can only complete a portion of the apprenticeship or traineeship while at school, but you can continue in a full- or part-time capacity after you complete your school studies.

What are school-based apprenticeships and traineeships?

A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship (SBAT) gives you the option of combining your senior secondary education with part-time employment and skills training. The program is undertaken according to a formal training contract with an employer and a training plan registered with the VRQA. The training must lead to a nationally recognised qualification, as determined by the VRQA.

Several people are involved in arranging your school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, including your parents, an employer, your school, a TAFE institute or other RTO, and an Apprenticeship Network provider.

A school-based apprenticeship or traineeship requires you to undertake both training and employment. Some of this will be during school time. The arrangement must be integrated with your school timetable and will contribute towards your VCE or VCAL studies.

If you would like further information about school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, see the Department of Education and Training website.

What is Head Start?

Head Start is an intensive, high quality school-based apprenticeship and traineeship option to enable students to complete their Year 12 certificate and step work-ready into an industry pathway. This model allows secondary students to focus on the flexible delivery of VCAL and VCE in a select range of qualifications targeting industries with skills needs. While completing these studies at school, Head Start students spend more time doing paid on-the-job training.

Head Start staff based in schools work with the apprentice or trainee, employer, school and TAFE institute or RTO to develop a tailored Head Start Pathway plan. This plan outlines how the apprentice or trainee will complete their VCE or VCAL and their apprenticeship or traineeship.

Head Start pathways are being offered in more than 100 government schools across 10 cluster sites. More information about Head Start is available on the Department of Education and Training website.

What are pre-apprenticeships?

Are you considering an apprenticeship or traineeship, but you’re not sure which trade or industry you’re interested in? A pre-apprenticeship is a great way to learn basic skills and get a feel for a particular industry or trade. It paves the way for the learning component of your apprenticeship.

Pre-apprenticeship courses may be undertaken while you are still at school, as part of your VCE or VCAL studies, or after you have completed school.

Electrical, plumbing, automotive, or fitting and turning industries offer pre-apprenticeships in a variety of trades.

Some of these pre-apprenticeships are the same as the VCE VET programs in those industries and are designed to integrate with your school studies. If you are interested in studying a pre-apprenticeship at school, discuss this with your school or careers practitioner.

More information about pre-apprenticeships is available on the Victorian Skills Gateway.

What is the difference between a pre-apprenticeship and an apprenticeship?

A pre-apprenticeship is a preparatory course and is usually a Certificate II, rather than the higher Certificate III level of an apprenticeship. Unlike apprenticeships, students undertaking a pre-apprenticeship do not have a job with an employer but may undertake SWL. When you have successfully finished a pre-apprenticeship, the Skills and Jobs Centre at your local TAFE institute may be able to help you find out more about getting an apprenticeship.

If you do find employment as an apprentice, the completion of a pre-apprenticeship may reduce the duration of your apprenticeship.

How do part-time apprenticeships and traineeships differ from school-based apprenticeships and traineeships?

Part-time apprenticeships and traineeships are not integrated into the school program. They are undertaken by school students outside school hours (like any part-time job). As training and employment are independent of the school program, the school does not need to integrate your employment or training into the school timetable.

A school-based apprenticeship requires your school to support your program, integrate employment or training into your school timetable and sign off on your training plan.

Under Skills First, you may be eligible for government-subsidised training if your course is part of a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. Government-subsidised training is not otherwise available to school students.

More information can be found on the Skills First section of the DET website.

What is competency-based completion?

Apprenticeships in Victoria are competency-based. This means your apprenticeship is complete only after your RTO has assessed that you meet all the required competencies for the qualification and your employer confirms that you are competent in the workplace.

The length of an apprenticeship will differ for each apprentice, based on their previous experience and training and how quickly they learn the skills of the trade. It normally takes between three and four years.

If you decide to do an apprenticeship or traineeship

Your pathway will differ depending on the options you have taken in your school studies.

You may already have started a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, or completed a pre-apprenticeship or other vocational course. If so, you may have already completed some of the following steps.

Step one

Find out which apprenticeships and traineeships are available.

Step two

Choose an apprenticeship or traineeship.

  • Consider undertaking a pre-apprenticeship to get a better understanding of the industry and show potential employers that you are keen.
  • Speak to your school careers practitioner, parents or guardians for guidance about the pathway you are interested in exploring.

Step three

Find an apprenticeship or traineeship.

  • Speak to your local TAFE Skills and Jobs Centre or RTO about local apprenticeship or traineeship opportunities. You can find your nearest Skills and Jobs Centre on the Department of Education and Training website.
  • Write to or approach employers directly.
  • Speak to your school careers practitioner (or Head Start staff, if Head Start is available in your school) for further guidance and help.
  • Visit the website of the Apprenticeship Employment Network, the peak industry body for Victorian group training organisations that employ apprentices or trainees and then place them with a host employer.
  • Visit the Australian Government Jobactive website.

Step four

Sign a training contract with an employer and start work.

  • The contract is provided by an Apprenticeship Network provider (they may also be able to help you to find an employer). Contact your local Apprenticeship Network provider.
  • Establish a training plan with your employer and an RTO and start training.