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The VET Cheatsheet

If you're new to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Sector, or often find yourself explaining to parents, students or employers what it all means this is the cheatsheet for you.

We've broken down the meaning of some of the key elements of this industry in an easy to read cheatsheet. We've also dedicated an episode of the MyGain with AATIS Podcast to go into a little more detail to help you and your stake holders understand, 'What does it all mean?"

What does it all mean?

What does VET mean?

Vocational courses in Australia, called VET (Vocational Education and Training), are training courses offered by accredited Australian educational bodies. They have strong practical content and are oriented to train you for a specific profession.

What’s an RTO?

Registered Training Organisations train apprentices and trainees in nationally recognised qualifications.

A Registered Training Organisation (RTO) is an organisation providing Vocational Education and Training (VET), resulting in qualifications or statements of attainment that are recognised and accepted by industry and other educational institutions throughout Australia.

RTOs include TAFE colleges or institutes, private providers, adult and community education providers, community groups, and schools. They are organisations registered with the national Australian Skills Quality Authority (or the state training authority in the case of Victoria and Western Australia), and are both providers and assessors of nationally recognised training.

Apprentices and trainees receive their formal training from an RTO and the training delivery can be subsidised, although there may be associated costs for the person being trained. RTOs have a number of payment options available which can be discussed at time of enrolment.

It's important to know that only some RTOs have been specifically approved by state and territory governments to provide apprenticeship and traineeship training. The Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider you sign up with will be able to assist you in choosing an RTO if you haven't already selected one.

What’s a GTO?

Group Training Organisations recruit apprentices and trainees and matches them with host employers. They provide ongoing support to all parties to the contact.

Group Training Organisations (GTOs) employ Australian Apprentices across a range of different industries. The GTO is the direct employer of the apprentice or trainee, but they 'host' them out to a 'host employer' for their work. This means that the apprentice or trainee is employed by the GTO, but goes to the host employer for their day-to-day job.

As the GTO is the employer of the apprentice or trainee, they recruit and support the apprentice or trainee throughout the whole Australian Apprenticeship. The GTO also takes on the contractual and administrative responsibilities as the employer of the Australian Apprentice.

GTOs are experts in hiring apprentices and trainees, and are regulated by governments to make sure they are doing the right things.

What’s an AASN?

The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (Apprenticeship Network) is your first point of contact for all queries about apprenticeships.

The Australian Government contracts seven Apprenticeship Network providers to deliver support services nationally through more than 480 field officers and 137 physical locations (shopfronts).

You cannot start an Australian Apprenticeship without an Apprenticeship Network provider.

Apprenticeship Network providers give personalised advice and support services from pre-commencement to completion. Apprenticeship Network providers offer the following support services:

  • Universal services:
    • essential administrative support
    • payment processing
    • regular contact

Targeted services for individuals who need extra support to complete their apprenticeship.

Sometimes an apprenticeship is not the right fit for a person. Apprenticeship Network providers also help people find alternative training pathways if they are not suited to an apprenticeship.

What’s a pre-apprenticeship?

A pre-apprenticeship is entry-level training which can provide a pathway into the industry of your choice. Generally, they are offered in the traditional trades industries, such as Carpentry, Electrical, Plumbing and Automotive. Not all apprenticeships have a designated pre-apprenticeship course and not all apprenticeship courses allow credits from a pre-apprenticeship. 

Some employers in certain trades, especially the licenced trades such as electrical and plumbing, prefer apprentices to have completed a pre-apprenticeship so that they have basic skills before they begin work. It is important to remember that you do not work during a pre-apprenticeship program so you do not earn wages and in many cases you have to pay to do a pre-apprenticeship course.

What’s the difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship?

The difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship is that a traineeship can be either a full-time or part-time employment based training arrangement, usually for around 12 months (apprenticeships usually last for three to four years) and is generally in a non-trade related area.

What is a training contract?

At the beginning of an apprenticeship or traineeship, the employer and an apprentice or trainee enter into a training contract, which outlines each party's responsibilities.

After employing an apprentice or trainee, the employer has 14 days to contact an Apprenticeship Network provider to initiate the signing and registration of the training contract. The Apprenticeship Network provider will contact us to register the training contract.

I’m over 21, can I do an apprenticeship?

There is no upper age limit for the commencement of an apprenticeship or traineeship, however, there are some limiting factors which should be taken into consideration.There may be 'adult apprentice' wage rates that apply to apprentices and trainees over 21 years old. Wages may be lower than your current or previous wage, so all potential adult apprentices and trainees need to consider if they can live on an apprentice wage over the period of training.

The term 'adult apprenticeship' can sometimes be confusing as it can mean something different depending on the context in which it is used. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman website, an adult apprentice is anyone over the age of 21. At this age, apprentices and trainees may be eligible to receive adult apprentice or trainee rates of pay set out in the relevant award.

Employers taking on an adult apprentice may be eligible to receive incentives if the age of the adult apprentice is 21 or over. In another case a 'mature aged' apprentice for incentive purposes is classified as anyone over 45 years of age who is employed as an apprentice or trainee.

The best contact point to discuss all this is an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

I’m not from Australia, can I do an apprenticeship?

You can get an apprenticeship if you:

  • Are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • There are also some visas which allow you to undertake an Australian Apprenticeship of you are not a resident.
    • Your eligibility to apply for an Australian Apprenticeship is based on the type of visa you hold when you are in Australia. To find the correct, up to date information about which visa holders can apply for Australian Apprenticeships you can contact the Department of Home Affairs, and if you are in Australia already contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.
    • You should also register with your nearest Group Training Organisation as they specialise in apprenticeship employment.

I want to stay in school, can I still do an apprenticeship and stay at school?

Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASbA), also known as school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, are similar to any apprenticeship or traineeship but commenced part-time as part of your secondary schooling. You will earn a wage, train with an employer, and work towards an accredited qualification while undertaking your high school certificate.

Similar to all Australian Apprenticeships, ASbAs are a great way to learn a role, gain experience, and get a head start in your career. Depending on what you do as your ASbA you may be able to finish this and gain the qualification while you are still at school.

If your school does not offer ASbAs, look at other options such as Vocational Education and Training in School (VET in Schools) or school subjects that lead into the occupation you are interested in. This will help you prepare for an apprenticeship or traineeship once you leave school.

Some ASbAs may be ongoing post-school, but after you complete your apprenticeship or traineeship you will still be able to go to university, upskill to a higher level qualification or even start your own business.

There are a few things you'll need to do before starting an ASbA

  • If you are under 18 years, talk to a parent or caregiver. They will need to agree before you can start an ASbA (or any other apprenticeship or traineeship)
  • Talk to your school about whether they offer ASbAs. You will need their agreement before you can start
  • Choose an apprenticeship or traineeship that is approved as an ASbA in your state. You can find this information in the Job and Training Description Search
  • Find an employer who is willing to take you on as an ASbA. The Steps to an Australian Apprenticeship gives tips on what to do
  • Once you have found an employer, an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider will need to do the sign up. They will talk to the employer, the school, and if you are under 18 to your parent or caregiver.

You can download the VET cheatsheet here

You can listen to the full MyGain with AATIS Podcast episode here

Do you have questions about something we didn't cover in the VET Cheatsheet? Contact us here or via freecall on 1800 338 022.