Home About Australian Apprenticeships How does Employment Work?

How does Employment Work?

Information about the employment elements of an Australian Apprenticeship.

Australian Apprenticeships are a form of employment, often for entry level workers but also suitable for career changers, return to the workforce, and upskilling.

Starting an Australian Apprenticeship can be challenging for both the apprentice or trainee and employer. This page has information about some of the common things you should be prepared for in an Australian Apprenticeship job.

Australian Apprenticeships also include education and training, so you might also want to visit our How does Training Work? page.

Our Finding an Australian Apprenticeship page has information for job hunters, and the Employer Information & Support can help employers understand their role in an Australian Apprenticeship.

Starting an Australian Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships and traineeships are very similar to other types of employment. The apprentice or trainee will be working for an employer, will have tasks and duties, and will need to meet the requirements of the contract. One difference is that an Australian Apprenticeship is formalised by a Training Contract.

The Training Contract is an agreement between the apprentice or trainee and the employer, and it is completed during the 'sign up' by an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider. The AASN provider will also help everyone understand their rights and responsibilities as part of the Australian Apprenticeship. You can read about the role of AASN providers in more detail on the Who is Involved? page, or find a provider using the AASN provider search.


When first starting the Australian Apprenticeship, the apprentice or trainee will go through an induction with the employer. Depending on what the apprenticeship or traineeship is, it could involve things like health and safety, computer access, meet the other staff, and an introduction to the duties you will do.

For an employer, the induction is an important way to start teaching new staff about the business. For the apprentice or trainee, the induction is an introduction into the workplace and initial training into important elements of the role.

Employment conditions

Employment conditions in Australia are covered by the National Employment Standards. It is important for the employer and apprentice or trainee to have a clear understanding of the employment conditions for the role. A workplace agreement may be used to cover this, including such things as wage and entitlements, hours to be worked, and workplace polices and procedures.

Visit the Fair Work website for more information about employment conditions

Visit Fair Work

Working environment

The work environment of the Australian Apprenticeship will depend on the industry, role, and employer. The apprentice or trainee should research the working environment before committing to a role. Employers will often include key elements of the employment conditions in the contract, and these can also be discussed during an interview or when offered the position.

Some of the main things to consider in the working environment include:

  • Workplace hours: Some Australian Apprenticeships will be 9am-5pm, but others will involve shift work, early morning or night hours, and some may include potential overtime during busy periods. Some employers will have contstant hours, but others may have roster changes.
  • Physical environment: Many Australian Apprenticeships include physical outdoor work, others include factory environments, while others might be based in an office. They could include a combination of these. In some roles the work environment and location might change as you move to different sites.
  • Presentation: Personal presentation is important in most jobs, but 'good' presentation depends on the type of role you are in. Being clean and tidy, and wearing correct attire (for example a uniform or personal protective equipment), and having good physical hygiene are important in most roles.
  • Teamwork: As an apprentice or trainee you will be working with a supervisor, but you may also be working with other Australian Apprentices and other staff. Workplaces often have people of different genders, younger, older and most probably of different nationalities. It is important that you are respectful to all people in the workplace regardless of who they are and what job they do.

Working under supervision

Those that commence an apprenticeship or traineeship will often work under supervision. How much will be dependant on the tasks at hand and the amount of experience the apprentice or trainee has. Supervisors are in their role as they have relevant experience and skills.

Each supervisor will have a different way in training the apprentices and trainees working with them. The apprentice or trainee should aim to learn what they can, and have an open dialogue with the supervisor about how they are learning.

Realistic expectations

Australian Apprenticeships are not always fun, as with any role there are always challenges and parts of the role that may be less enjoyable. Apprentices and trainees are learning all aspects of the role, and should expect that some parts will not be to their liking. 

Having done research into the industry, role and employer, the apprentice or trainee should have an understanding of the good and bad parts of the Australian Apprenticeship. Having a clear and realistic expectation of the role is important for the apprentice or trainee to thrive in the job.