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Five common questions about apprenticeships

Employing an apprentice or trainee is a smart investment in the future of your business. But, what is involved in doing so?

Employing an apprentice or trainee is a smart investment in the future of your business. Apprentices can bring fresh energy, enthusiasm, innovation and current industry skills to your workplace, as well as provide real benefits and contribute to your bottom line.

Apprenticeships and traineeships combine training with working in a real job, in a real business, for a real boss, and for a real wage. Training can be undertaken full-time, part-time, or school-based.

Here are the five most frequently asked questions about trainees and apprentices that we come across in our from businesses and employers.

How do I employ an apprentice or trainee?

Employing an apprentice or trainee is a big commitment and it's important you think carefully about whether you can give someone a training opportunity and employ them for the full length of the apprenticeship or traineeship. Knowing whether an apprentice or trainee is a better investment in your business is also crucial. Traineeships vary in length from 12 months to two years and apprenticeships usually take three to four years (full-time) to complete. You also need to be aware of the eligibility requirements and age requirements, restricted callings and visa requirements for apprenticeships and traineeships.

Selecting the right apprenticeship or traineeship for your business means deciding what their job will entail, identifying the skills required to do the job, and determining whether the employee needs to be full-time, part-time or could even be school-based. Apprentices and trainees can be employed directly by your business where you will be responsible for managing their employment and training, or you can become a host employer with a group training organisation (GTO). GTOs employ apprentices and trainees and place them with host employers on a short or long-term basis to get hands on experience. Try contacting the Apprentice Employment Network if you think this might be the option for you.

Apprentices and trainees can be recruited by:

  • visiting the Australian Government's Jobactive or calling their Employer Hotline on 13 17 15
  • searching the website for an out-of-trade apprentice
  • searching the Apprenticeship Central website which aims to match employers with suitable persons wishing to commence an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • placing an advertisement in the paper, on a recruitment website or using a recruitment company
  • contacting your local high school for details of school-industry partnerships in your local area; to recruit students for a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship or an industry placement; or for an introduction to someone about to leave school
  • contacting your local training organisation to find students who have finished relevant introductory training and may be interested in an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • offering apprenticeships or traineeships to current employees.

From there, you choose a registered training organisation like TAFE Queensland. We will help you develop a training plan which outlines when, where and how your apprentice or trainee will need to train, provide you with a training record to document their training, deliver training, assess your apprentice or trainees knowledge and skills, and finally issue a qualification on successful completion of training.

You and your apprentice or trainee will also be required to sign a training contract. The training contract is an agreement to work and train together for a length of time. If the apprentice or trainee is under the age of 18, their parent or guardian, if appropriate, must provide signed consent to the apprenticeship or traineeship. An AASN provider, as a free service, will facilitate the signing of the training contract, will be the first point of contact during the life cycle of the training contract. Phone 13 38 73 to find your local AASN provider.

For more information about employing an apprentice or trainee, visit the Queensland Government Apprenticeships Info website or the Australian Apprenticeships website.

What are my responsibilities and obligations towards apprentices and/or trainees?

After entering into a training contract and negotiating a training plan, employers have responsibilities to fulfill at the beginning, during, and at the completion of an apprenticeship or traineeship.

The Queensland Government Apprenticeships Info website provides an easy to understand overview of your responsibilities and obligations. 

Some of your key responsibilities and obligations will include:

  • Contacting an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider to arrange the signing of a training contract and ensuring the training contract is signed by the parties within 14 days of the start of the apprenticeship or traineeship.
  • Selecting a training organisation in consultation with the apprentice or trainee.
  • Negotiating a training plan with the apprentice or trainee and the training organisation within three months of the start of the apprenticeship or traineeship.
  • Delivering training as negotiated in the training plan.
  • Providing, or arranging to provide, the facilities and range of work as specified in the training plan, ensuring the apprentice or trainee is adequately supervised by a qualified person.
  • Paying the wages and provide the entitlements specified in the relevant industrial relations instrument.
  • Releasing the apprentice or trainee from work and pay the appropriate wages to attend any off-the-job training, including assessment as provided for in the training plan.
  • At reasonable intervals of not more than three months, updating the training record.

What are the costs involved in employing an apprentice or trainee and are there any incentives?

The costs involved in employing an apprentice or trainee may include recruitment costs to find the right person for the apprenticeship or traineeship, wages and entitlements (including superannuation, workers' compensation and the cost of supplying tools if required), the cost of providing special equipment (if required), travel and/or accommodation costs for the apprentice or trainee to attend training, and training costs. These costs will vary from industry to industry, and business to business.

Some registered training organisations (including TAFE Queensland) are funded by the department to provide training for some apprenticeships and traineeships at a reduced cost. This is referred to as User Choice and more information can be obtained from the Queensland Government Training website or by contacting us.

Alternatively, you can choose to pay the full fee for training delivered by an organisation that does not have a contract with the department.

The training organisation that you and your apprentice or trainee decide on must advise of any fees to be paid (including student contribution fees which are payable by the apprentice or trainee), and you may be required to contribute towards the cost of training where the department's funding contribution does not meet the cost of training offered by the training organisation. If you choose a training organisation who receives departmental funding, your registration letter will contain details of the amount the department is contributing towards the training.

In terms of incentives, you may benefit from state and Australian Government incentives for employing an apprentice or trainee.

Employers who put on a school-based apprentice (does not apply to school-based trainees) on or after 1 July 2013, and convert the apprentice to a full-time arrangement after a minimum of six months, may be eligible for a bonus payment.

Various incentives are also available from the Australian Government for eligible employers depending on their location, industry and the person employed. To find out if you are eligible, contact your Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider, visit the AASN website or phone 13 38 73.

Is a current employee eligible to become an apprentice or trainee?

Yes, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements to participate in an apprenticeship or traineeship in Queensland.

If your employee has worked for you continuously for longer than three months full-time or 12 months part-time/casual, before commencing of the apprenticeship or traineeship, they will be considered to be an 'existing worker'. Existing workers are eligible to participate in apprenticeships and traineeships however, their funding for training may be reduced.

Read the Existing Workers fact sheet on the Queensland Government Training website for more information.

How does training affect my apprentice or trainee's on-the-job time, and when do they attend training?

Upon signing up an apprentice or trainee, TAFE Queensland will help you develop a training plan that outlines when, where and how your apprentice or trainee will need to train, provide you with a training record to document their training, deliver training, and assess your apprentice or trainee's knowledge and skills.

Most apprentices and trainees will be required to complete a combination of theory in both their own time or block/classroom time, as well as completing practical training in the workplace and/or block and classroom time at TAFE. There is no easy answer as to how much time you may lose your employee from the job site, or when this will happen. It very much depends on the apprentice or trainee, the course, the industry, and your training plan.

Where workplace training is selected, a teacher is usually assigned to attend your workplace to deliver training and assess your skills and knowledge. Delivery at TAFE consists of face-to-face classes after the apprentice or trainee is released from the workplace by the employer. The duration of face-to-face attendance will often vary depending on the stage and the units of competency specified in individual training plans.

Taking on a TAFE Queensland apprentice or trainee gives your business access to some of the country's best and brightest talent. For more information contact us today.