Apprenticeships and traineeships allow you to work and learn at the same time, helping you get into skilled work sooner. Your employer pays your wage while also paying for your education and training, and your pay reflects this. But do you know exactly how much you're entitled to be paid as an apprentice or trainee?
As an apprentice or trainee your employer will cover the cost of your course fees and any prescribed textbooks required for your training.
You may however have to pay a student contribution fee to your nominated training organisation, like TAFE Queensland. If you're a school-based apprentice or trainee you will not have to pay the co-contribution fee while you're at school. Concession rates also apply if you have a current Health Care Card or identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
The amount that apprentices and trainees get paid can vary depending on your age, how long the apprenticeship is, the type of qualification you're training towards, and what award you're employed under. To check exactly how much you'll be paid under your specific award you can use the Fair Work Ombudsman's Pay and Conditions Tool.
No matter what your award is, you must be paid at least the minimum wage for your award for any time spent working for your employer. You will also be paid for the time you spend training at your nominated training organisation and this will be included in your ordinary hours of work.
As you progress through your apprenticeship you will move up levels and pay grades. You can move up levels after you've worked a certain amount of time, or once you've achieved a certain level of competency. Which circumstance applies to you will be outlined in your award.
While your employer doesn't get paid for having an apprentice or trainee, there are a range of government funding and subsidies they may be eligible for to offset the cost of your training. This can make it more affordable, especially for small business, to take on an apprentice or trainee.
By now you've probably figured out that paying apprentices and trainees can be a complicated business. Mistakes can happen, so the best place to start if you think you're being paid incorrectly is to speak to your employer about your concerns. Most awards or enterprise agreements include a dispute resolution procedure so be sure to check this so you can follow the correct process.
If you can't resolve the situation by talking to your employer, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for additional help. They can give information and advice to help both you and your employer understand your rights and responsibilities. They also offer mediation and dispute resolution processes to help you reach an agreement and resolve the issue.
If after the mediation process you still can't reach an outcome you may decide to take legal action against your employer in the small claims court.
Apprenticeships and traineeships are competency based. Unlike traditional, classroom-based learning which is based around studying for a certain amount of time, you will progress through your apprenticeship/traineeship as you gain the required skills and knowledge. Once your training organisation has issued your qualification, and you and your employer are satisfied you've completed the requirements of your training plan, you can start the completion process.
As well as your formal qualification you'll also receive a completion certificate for the apprenticeship or traineeship from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT). In certain trades such as electrotechnology and plumbing you may be required to get a work licence in order to carry out work. Your employer should be able to give you more information about this if it's required in your industry.
Once you've completed your training your employer may decide to keep you on, or you may choose to work for a different employer, start your own business, or continue your training with a specialisation or industry licence.