Page 1Icons/Ionic/iOS/ios-contactFill 1Group 2Triangles
Home About Australian Apprenticeships Adult Apprenticeships

Adult Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships and Traineeships are not just for youth. Adult apprenticeships can provide many benefits for an apprentice and an employer.

Australian Apprenticeships can provide a pathway to a career change for people looking to re-enter the workforce and for people who are currently working.  

As an employment based initiative there must be a permanent full-time or part-time job at the centre of the arrangements, and there are some eligibilities to be checked and administrative processes to be completed. It's important to contact an Apprenticeship Network provider to discuss the detail.  

Australian Apprenticeships combine work with training in a nationally recognised qualification in around 50 industries. Employees and employers select a qualification relevant to a job role in their industry, and through discussion with a training provider focus the training plan on major skill needs and consider training delivery options. 

For general information about apprenticeships and traineeships, visit the Australian Apprenticeships page.

Do businesses actually employ adult apprentices?

Yes! The number of employers employing adult apprentices has increased significantly since 1998. For more information, see NCVER's The changing nature of apprenticeships: 1996–2016: infographic above.

It is the employer's choice as to which applicant or employee they take on as an apprentice or trainee. Some employers look primarily for character and skills, while others may look at hiring from a financial point of view.


Some employers may not be able to afford to put on an adult apprentice. You may find this when cold calling different employers.

For some tips and steps on how to find an adult apprenticeship or traineeship, visit our Adult Apprenticeship Job Hunting page.

Common Questions

What is an adult apprenticeship?

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 Fairwork 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 a relevant award.

However, employers taking on an adult apprentice may be eligible to receive incentives if the age of the adult apprentice is 25 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 Apprenticeship Network provider, organisations funded by the Australian Government to promote and administer Australian Apprenticeships.

Who can do an adult apprenticeship or traineeship?

Anyone of working age, and with eligibility to work in Australia (see below), can start an apprenticeship or traineeship. There is no maximum age limit.

A secondary school certificate or other qualification is not required, although employer preferences about achievements at school, skill levels and experience can play a large part in who they recruit.

To be eligible for an apprenticeship or traineeship a person must be:

  • an Australian citizen; or
  • a permanent resident; or
  • a holder of a temporary resident or working visa of sufficient duration to undertake the apprenticeship or traineeship.

It is important to talk through specific circumstances and how they may effect eligibility to commence an apprenticeship or traineeship.  Contact an Apprenticeship Network provider for more details.

What are the challenges of starting an adult apprenticeship or traineeship?

Finding an employer is a big challenge when looking at starting an adult apprenticeship.

'Wage affordability' of employees over 21 years old may be an issue for some employers, particularly smaller businesses. 

For employees a challenge can be coping on a training wage while reskilling and opening doors to longer term career options.  Even though an adult apprentice or trainee is paid higher than a junior apprentice, financial considerations are obviously going to be an important factor in taking this direction, particularly people with responsibilities of family or a mortgage.  

People considering taking on an Adult Apprenticeship should obtain as much information as possible before making a decision, not only information about Australian Apprenticeships but perhaps also advice from financial experts.

If you are eligible to receive a Trade Support Loan, you can use it to subsidise your wage if necessary, and you can also contact Centrelink to see whether there is any other financial support to help you during your apprenticeship or traineeship.

Another challenge is the course work. Some adult apprentices may not have studied for years, and hitting the books again can be quite daunting. Most RTO's offer student support services and perhaps access to mentoring services to help people in this situation.

What are the benefits for career changers?

Starting an adult apprenticeship or traineeship is a great way to upskill in an industry that you have been working in, or to start down a new career path altogether. Benefits include:

  • Gaining a nationally recognised qualification;
  • Higher rate of pay than junior apprentices;
  • The possibility of shortening the duration of the apprenticeship or traineeship through a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment, or by fast-tracking the training; and
  • Trade Support Loans for eligible apprentices to assist with everyday costs while they complete their apprenticeship.

What do adult apprentices get paid?

The adult apprentice rate of pay is usually higher than that of a junior apprentice.

To check adult apprentice rates of pay in specific occupations visit the Fairwork Ombudsman website or call them on 13 13 94.

How to find an adult apprenticeship?

The steps to finding an apprenticeship are the same for an adult as they are for a school leaver. It starts with an employer recruiting a new employee or deciding to upskill an existing employee. 

Visit the Adult Apprenticeship Job Hunting page for some extra tips and advice.

How do employers benefit?

Hiring adult apprentices has many benefits for a business including:

  • Gaining a mature worker with already developed employability skills;
  • The potential to gain a qualified worker sooner through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and fast-tracking;
  • Providing a structure to upskill the workforce in qualifications developed by industry with the possibility of funding support for the training;
  • The Support for Adult Australian Apprentices financial support to an eligible employer of an adult Australian Apprentice through the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme;
  • Mature Aged Workers incentives for eligible employers who employ a mature aged worker who is 45 years of age or older, disadvantaged, and in a Certificate II qualification level;
  • Restart financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over; and
  • Gaining a committed worker as most adult apprentices have put a lot of thought in to which industry they want to train in, and are willing to make big sacrifices to get there. The probability of losing an apprentice due to a lack of interest is lower than for all apprenticeship  types.

Speak with an Apprenticeship Network provider to find out if you are eligible for any financial support

Search for a provider
Mature Aged Workers Incentives

Mature Aged Workers Incentives

Mature Aged Workers incentives may be provided to employers who employ a mature aged worker who is 45 years of age or older, disadvantaged, and in a Certificate II qualification level.

For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for this incentive, please contact your local Apprenticeship Network provider.

Restart Incentive

Restart Incentive

Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.

If you have any questions or would like to apply for Restart contact an employment services provider.

Support for Adult Apprentices

Support for Adult Apprentices

The Support for Adult Australian Apprentices initiative provides financial support to an eligible employer of an adult Australian Apprentice through the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program.

Read more
National Skills Needs List Explained

National Skills Needs List Explained

Eligibility for some Apprenticeships and Traineeships incentives and personal benefits is limited to those in traditional trades identified as experiencing a national skills shortage.

Trades experiencing persistent skills shortage are included on the National Skills Needs List which is based on detailed labour market research conducted by the Department of Jobs and Small Business.

Read more
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

If you have skills, experience and knowledge gained through completing courses, life experience or work experience, Recognition of Prior Learning may provide you with credit towards the completion of a qualification that relates to your occupation or the occupation that you want to move in to.


To find out more about the training involved in an apprenticeship or traineeship, visit the 'Information about training' page.