​​​​​​About apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships combine training with working in a real job, with a real boss, for a real wage. Apprentices and trainees work towards the completion of a nationally recognised qualification while learning valuable skills at work and under the guidance of a training organisation.

Visit the Training stories section of this website​ to read stories from real apprentices, trainees, school-based and employers, as well as people involved in other types of vocational education and training.

Difference between an appre​ntice and a trainee

Apprentices are trained in a skilled trade (e.g. electrical, plumbing, cabinet-making, automotive) and, upon successful completion, become a qualified tradesperson. Apprenticeships generally take up to four years to complete.

Trainees are trained in vocational areas (e.g. business administration, information technology, tourism) and, upon successful completion, receive a qualification in their chosen vocational area. Traineeships generally take between 12 months and three years to complete. 

Quick facts about appre​nticeships and traineeships

  • ​Apprenticeships and traineeships combine work with structured training.

  • Apprenticeships and traineeships can be full-time, part-time, or school-based - where some training is undertaken while the apprentice or trainee is in high school. However, apprenticeships and traineeships can not be completed on a casual basis.​

  • Existing employees may undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship.

  • Apprenticeships and traineeships require employers to enter into a training contract with the apprentice or trainee, which is a legally binding agreement to work and train together for a length of time.

  • Employers work with a training organisation and the apprentice or trainee to negotiate a training plan​.

  • Training options must be negotiated and outlined in the training plan. Aspects of training that are open to negotiation (subject to training package requirements) include selection, content and sequencing of competency units; timing, location and mode of delivery; and trainer or facilitator.

Types of apprentic​​​eships and traineeships

Full-time or pa​​rt​​-time

  • ​Full-time apprentices and trainees work and train an average of 38 hours per week and have ongoing employment
  • Part-time apprentices and trainees are rostered to work on a regular basis, working and training no less than 15 hours per week, averaged over a four week cycle.
  • Existing workers may be employed as an apprentice or trainee in a full-time or part-time capacity.
  • The nominal term of a part-time apprenticeship or traineeship is generally double that of the full-time apprenticeship or traineeship.


  • ​School-based apprentices and trainees undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship as part of their high school studies (generally in years 10, 11 and 12).
  • A school-based apprentice or trainee's employment and/or training arrangements must impact on their school timetable for the program to be considered school-based.
  • The nominal term of a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship is generally double that of the full-time apprenticeship or traineeship.

Visit the School-based apprenticeships and traineeships page​ for more information.

Adult and ma​ture age

Commencing an apprenticeship or traineeship is the same for all, no matter what age. Older apprentices and trainees may provide maturity, reliability, life experience and knowledge, not only to an employer but to other staff.

A mature age apprentice or trainee's existing skills and experience (gained from education, training, work and life experience) may provide them with credit and may reduce their training time. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the formal recognition of these skills and can be discussed with the training organisation when negotiating the training plan.

Mature age apprentices and trainees may earn different wages compared to younger apprentices and trainees. Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 to discuss wages.

Employers of mature age apprentices and trainees may attract specific incentives through the Australian Government. Contact the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network​ on 13 38 73.

Queensland Government apprenticesh​ips and traineeships

The Queensland Government offers full-time traineeships and school-based apprenticeships and traineeships each year in government agencies, including state government departments, local councils, statutory authorities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Councils and not-for-profit community organisations.

Visit the Queensland Government Smart Jobs and Careers website to search vacancies directly.

Related infor​mation

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/ )
Last updated
21 November 2018