Get an apprenticeship – the five most asked questions

20 December 2016

1. Am I eligible for an apprenticeship? 

To start an apprenticeship or traineeship you simply need to be of working age, and an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

You do not need a previous qualification to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship, but completing a pre-vocational qualification (e.g. Certificate II in Engineering Pathways) while at school will be sought after by employers. Experience such as working as a trade assistant will also be an advantage.

2. Will I be qualified when I finish?

Yes. An apprenticeship involves gaining practical, hands-on work experience and also completing a nationally accredited Vocational qualification in the trade of your choosing (e.g. Certificate III in Engineering - Electrical/Electronic Trade). This grants you the status of a fully qualified tradesperson upon completion. A trainee will usually work toward a Certificate III or higher, generally (but not always) in non-trade pathways, such as business administration, warehousing, IT or retail.

3. Does it cost anything to do an apprenticeship?

No, not usually. There are course fees associated with completing the “off-the-job” training (Vocational qualification) required as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship. These fees are generally subsidised by User Choice funding for Australian Apprenticeships or covered by the modern award set by the Fair Work Commission.

Apprentice and trainee employers such as MIGAS also provide uniforms and personal protective equipment as part of your employment.

There may be some costs around getting yourself to and from work or training.

4. How much do apprentices earn?

Apprentices are paid under a relevant award rate or under agreement with their employer, which means it’s not as simple as stating a figure or dollar amount.

The award covers:

  • Base rates of pay (including piecework rates)
  • Types of employment (e.g. full-time, part-time, casual)
  • Overtime and penalty rates
  • Work arrangements (e.g. rosters, variations to working hours)
  • Annualised wage or salary arrangements
  • Allowances (e.g. travel allowances)
  • Leave, leave loading and taking leave
  • Superannuation
  • Procedures for consultation, representation and dispute settlement
  • Outworkers
  • An industry-specific redundancy scheme.

Apprentices typically move up to the next level of pay as they progress through their apprenticeship which generally takes four years to complete, and up to two years for a traineeship. There’s also a range of entitlements for apprentices set out by the Fair Work Ombudsman. You can also calculate an estimate of your pay based on the relevant award using the government’s pay calculator.

Apprentices can also access financial support through a Trade Support Loan and a range of other programs that vary state to state:

  • Living Away from Home Allowance
  • Travel and Accommodated Allowances
  • Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY
  • Discounted Health Care and Travel allowances
5. How do I start an apprenticeship?

Securing an apprenticeship or traineeship is just like applying for a job.

That means you’ll need an up to date resume which includes details of your work experience (paid and/or volunteer), education and skills. Fresh out of school and haven’t gained any work experience yet? That’s ok! School leavers are sought after by employers looking for apprentices. Include the subjects you did at school and any awards or community programs you took part in. A reference from a supportive teach or school leader will also help.

We’ve got some tips for working up your resume here, and there are heaps of great tools out there for designing a great looking CV – try this.

Check out our 10 Steps to Becoming an Apprentice for a step by step guide and then head over to our Jobs board to search for current vacancies and apply online.

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