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 31 December 2016, there were 265 000 apprentices and trainees in Australia (Source: NCVER's Apprentices and trainees annual).

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), formerly called the New Apprenticeships Incentives Programme (NAIP), 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.

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 Apprenticeship 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 Australian Apprenticeships Centres, registered training organisations and other stakeholders. The service was previously called NATINFO.

Australian Apprenticeships Management System (AAMS)

The Australian Apprenticeships Management System (AAMS) is a new online management system, currently under development, that will support the operations of the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN). When operational, the AAMS will provide a platform to facilitate the electronic storage of employer, apprentice and service provider information (including online signup) and enable payments to employers and apprentices under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program and the Government's new Trade Support Loans.

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 diploma, advanced diploma and associate degree. Two industry-led pilots delivering higher level apprenticeships have been funded by the Australian Government under the Alternative delivery pilots project.

Where to go for more information




How to cite this overview

NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2018, Getting to know VET overview: Apprenticeships and traineeship, VET Knowledge Bank, NCVER, Adelaide, <>.

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