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Home Employer Information & Support Why Employ an Australian Apprentice

Why Employ an Australian Apprentice

Building the skills capacity of business

Developing the productive skills a business needs to grow is an important issue for employers. This can be done through training-up new employees or upskilling existing staff. In both cases, Australian Apprenticeships have over many years proven to be an effective method of meeting this need. 

Australian Apprenticeships, also known as apprenticeships and traineeships, are employment based, that start with an employer creating a job or using them to enhance the skills of existing staff. 

They are underpinned by nationally recognised qualifications that have been developed through industry consultation. Training assessment is based on an employee demonstrating competence in a skill, and is delivered by providers that are quality assessed nationally and often also at a state and territory level.

Employers also have a role in contextualising and consolidating the learning in their own workplace practices and to their needs. This requires an active approach and attention to an employee’s progress through training.

Employers retain the flexibility of using the method of recruitment they prefer and also the control over the decision about who they employ.

Apprenticeships and traineeships cover hundreds of occupations across around 50 industries. Employment can be full-time or part-time, but they must be permanent positions.

Apprentices and trainees are paid a training wage which recognises that some of their time is spent in training, but generally other employment rights and conditions are as for other employees.

The Australian, state and territory governments support apprenticeships and traineeships in various ways. These may include providing funding for the training delivery, offering incentives to employers and financial support to employees, funding support services such as Apprenticeship Network providers and many local level initiatives, and the funding of programmes like the Higher Apprentice initiative and pre-apprenticeships.     

Employers can be involved without directly employing the apprentice or trainee by accessing the services of a Group Training Organisation (GTO). In these cases employers 'host' an employee for a period of time while the GTO is the employer managing the detail.

Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons

Although there are over 250,000 apprentices and trainees currently in training, Australian Apprenticeships aren't the solution to all job roles. The decision to use this approach involves a commitment from an employer to induct, train and supervise often inexperienced employees.

Employers should consider whether they have the resources, time and energy to put into managing this approach to skills development.

Employing Apprentices - Being Prepared contains checklists, questions and links to help decide if employing an apprentice is the right option.

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Australian Apprenticeships guarantee the future of the industry

Many employers believe that it is important to employ apprentices and trainees because it guarantees the future skills needs of their industry. Some skilled occupations take years to learn and some can only be learnt through apprenticeships. Examples of these include electricians, plumbers, carpenters, chefs, motor mechanics and maintenance fitters.

Some employees are trained entirely on the job, with no formal training.  Apprenticeships and traineeships provide training based on qualifications reflecting industry wide standards. 

In many cases there is support provided for the completion of this training, making a traineeship or apprenticeship a cost-effective way of training staff. 

Concessions on full wage rates

Concessions on full wage rates

The wages of apprentices and trainees are less than those of skilled employees, which may be a consideration for some employers. Although, they are lower for a reason.

The wage reflects the fact that a new employee is likely to be inexperienced and less productive, and that they will spend time undertaking formal training.

It is important for employers to provide employees with accurate information on wages. The Fair Work Ombudsman is an essential resource.

Fair Work Ombudsman

Licence recognition

Licencing standards and requirements can centre on business operations, performance of certain tasks for example the 'Responsible Service of Alcohol', or the provision of a product or service like plumbing.

When apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications are developed industry representatives consider the licencing requirements relevant to occupations and to business needs.

Apprenticeships and traineeships, particularly in the area of the 'traditional trades', are often strongly connected to professional standards and licencing of occupations. In some cases there may be additional steps to achieve full recognition.

There are instances where apprenticeships and traineeships are generally accepted as the best measure of the skills required to work in an occupation or industry, without there being a formal requirement to gain a licence.

It is a good idea to check with the relevant industry association or government agency to verify licensing needs, which may vary from state to state.  The Licence Recognition site provides links to a range of relevant websites in states and territories.


The Australian, state and territory governments may provide incentives for employing apprentices and trainees. These can vary according to the skill level of the apprenticeship qualification and other factors such as location, skills shortage occupations and age.

Some government incentives are designed to encourage the employment of disadvantaged groups. These can include long term unemployed, people with disabilities, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, retrenched workers and others. These incentives recognise the additional difficulties people in these groups have in gaining employment, while also acting to encourage employers to consider a broad range of job applicants.

Not all apprenticeships are for new entrants and so there may be incentives that apply to upskilling the existing workforce. 

There may also be incentives for apprentices and trainees, such as living away from home and trade support loans.

Incentives change regularly and there are eligibility criteria, so it is essential to discuss current incentives with an Apprenticeship Network provider.

National Skills Needs List

National Skills Needs List

Eligibility for some Australian Apprenticeships 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 Education.

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Government Initiatives & Information

Government Initiatives & Information

Commonwealth, state and territory governments regularly announce programs and incentives that affect employment growth in particular regions and industries or help with creating employment opportunities for particular groups. Some of these will impact on the employment of apprenticeships.

It is recommended that you keep yourself informed about what is going on in your state and territory. The link below will take you to some of the major programs in your state and to media release pages that you may choose to subscribe to.

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