Home Employer Information & Support Managing an Australian Apprentice
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Managing an Australian Apprentice

Information about induction, workplace health and safety, and supervision.

An important first step when managing an apprentice or trainee is to recognise that they may have little or no experience in a work environment.

While they will have a lot to learn, this does not mean that they are not able to make a valuable contribution from the very beginning of their Australian Apprenticeship. Many companies believe taking on apprentices and trainees is the main way in which they update the skills of their company.

This is only possible if an employer is committed to giving apprentices and trainees the opportunity to make a contribution, and value that contribution.

Carpenter apprentice being supervised with machinery

Inducting a new apprentice or trainee

A proper induction is always important for a new employee. It's important they know about the company's values and work practices, their role in the workplace and how to look after their own safety and the safety of the people they work with.

An induction can cover many things, but as a minimum it should raise workplace safety including any protective clothing and equipment, start and finish times, who to report to and any other key personnel the apprentice or trainee will deal with.  Apprentices and trainees will also need to discuss the training plan for the formal training component of their position.

As for any new employee, employers will need information like the apprentice's or trainee's tax file number, bank account details and superannuation details.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has an Induction Checklist which can help you identify all the topics you will need to discuss with your apprentice or trainee.

Probationary periods

The Australian Apprentice will have a probationary period built into their training contract, which you should discuss with the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider and the apprentice or trainee when they sign up. This probationary period allows the employer or apprentice or trainee to cancel the training contract if they are unhappy.

The probationary period means that the employer and their apprentice or trainee can make sure the Australian Apprenticeship is the right choice for them, and that the employment relationship is working well.

Read more about signing up the apprentice or trainee, probationary periods, trial periods, and how the contract can be cancelled if needed

Employer Responsibilities
Young man crossing arms while his employer is talking to him.

Expectations of supervisors

When taking on an apprentice or trainee, the employer is agreeing to train them in the skills they need to become qualified. This means they need someone to supervise the apprentice or trainee, to show them how to perform tasks to the standard needed and to guide them to achieve that standard.

The supervisor will need skills and experience in the occupation to be able to train the apprentice or trainee, and there may be limits on the numbers of apprentices and trainees that can be supervised by one person. The supervisor will need time dedicated to supervising the apprentice or trainee in their work and training.

Taking the time to supervise and manage the Australian Apprentice

The employer will need to make sure the supervisor of an apprentice or trainee is able to spend time working with the Australian Apprentice. As part of this time spent with the apprentice or trainee, the supervisor should:

  • demonstrate skills and explain how to perform them
  • watch the apprentice or trainee practice skills and correct them if needed
  • monitor progress against the formal training undertaken by the apprentice or trainee
  • help the apprentice and trainee work with other staff or clients
  • provide feedback across the work and training of the Australian Apprentice.

In some industries the apprentice or trainee will not be able to work independently while they are developing skills and will need close supervision. As their skills develop they may be able to work more independently.

If you are unsure about how supervision may work in your industry, you should talk with an industry organisation or Registered Training Organisation that delivers the relevant qualification.

Have you considered mentoring?

Mentoring is about recognising the importance of developing both the skills and the character of employees including apprentices and trainees. It is about taking the time to coach them on the job and take an interest in their formal training and personal development.

The mentor does not need to be the same person as the supervisor, they could be another experienced staff member, or even a more experienced apprentice or trainee. Someone who has gone through a similar apprenticeship or traineeship could be a good mentor, in conjunction with the supervisor.

Businesses that put resources into mentoring their apprentices and trainees achieve a much higher completion rate. Larger companies may employ people especially for that purpose, but there are resources available to help small business improve their own mentoring practices or tap into external support.

Mentors also need to be aware of how an apprentice or trainee is being treated by other workers. Making sure that all staff are treated well and treat others well, that there is no bullying, especially of new staff and that there are opportunities to discuss situations will assist in creating a happy work place.

The supervisor is a source of ongoing support for the apprentice or trainee. Read more about ongoing support throughout the Australian Apprenticeship

Support During the Apprenticeship

Work Health and Safety considerations

No one wants to work in an unsafe workplace, and everyone has the right to come home from work safely to their family and friends. The attitude of the employer and supervisor towards work health and safety will influence the attitude and behaviours of the Australian Apprentice.

The employer and supervisor should consider the best ways to introduce the apprentice or trainee to the workplace, and how to keep them safe while they are learning. Safe Work Australia has information for employers of young workers, and a range of information and resources about maintaining a healthy workplace. They also link to state and territory based resources for employers.

Find out more about employer responsibilities and obligations

Employer Responsibilities