Training an apprentice or trainee

Training an apprentice or trainee is largely in your hands. Find information on registering your apprentice, creating a training plan, competency based training and what to do on completion of the apprenticeship.

Choosing a registered training organisation

Your first step should be to work with the registered training organisation (RTO) you and your apprentice or trainee has chosen, in order to agree on a training plan.

You as the employer are responsible for registering your apprentice with an RTO. An apprentice should be enrolled within three months of starting their apprenticeship.

Choosing a registered training organisation (RTO) is an important step in training your apprentice or trainee. An Australian Apprenticeships Centre will help you select an RTO to meet your needs.

To find your local Australian Apprenticeships Centre:

Working with the RTO throughout the apprenticeship

The RTO mu​​st make a minimum of four contacts per year with you to discuss the apprentice’s progress.

You don't have to keep a record of the contacts made by the RTO however it is good pr​​actice to retain copies of letters concerning competency of their apprentice or Training Plan updates. In addition it can be helpful to note down any phone calls or meetings that you have with the RTO.

Apprentice is employed by a group training organisation (GTO)

In this situation, the G​​TO is responsible for providing confirmation of workplace performance of the apprentice, not the host employer. For more information on GTOs, see below.

The training plan

The training plan will outline who will deliver the training, and when and where your apprentice or trainee needs to go to receive the structured component of the training.

A training plan must be devised within three months of an apprentice or trainee commencing their apprenticeship or traineeship and prior to the delivery of any structured training.

Treat the training plan as a working document. It should be flexible enough to meet all your needs.

Remember that you can talk about this to your registered training organisation at any stage during the training.

What to include in the training plan

The training plan must specify the following:

  • the competencies to be obtained
  • the time-frame for achieving the competencies
  • the training to be undertaken
  • the delivery modes to be employed
  • the details (when, how and how much) of the time allocated outside routine work duties is for off-the-job training
  • who is responsible for the delivery and/or assessment of each competency•assessment details and arrangements
  • a record of any recognised prior learning (RPL) for qualifications and cross-credit hours granted prior to commencing the apprenticeship or traineeship
  • the name of the qualification to be issued
  • any other specific requirements to be met in accordance with the particular training contract in question

Competency based training

All apprenticeships and traineeships in Victoria are competency based.

Competency is the consistent application of knowledge and skill to the standard of performance required in the workplace.

Training Packages are made up of units of competency endorsed by industry. Apprentices are assessed against these units of competency by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

The competencies to be obtained should be noted in the training plan.

Assess competency

Apprentices can demonstrate competency through successfully doing a task, exercise or activity. This way, apprentices may complete their training program at their own rate based on their own abilities.

Training packages are made up of units of competency endorsed by industry. Apprentices are assessed against these units of competency by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Employers assist apprentices to gain the necessary skills in the workplace by aligning the apprentice’s tasks with what they are learning through their RTO.

Employers then need to confirm with the RTO once the apprentice is able to apply the skills to the standard required in the workplace.

Summary of competency based completion
Apprenticeships commencing 2010 or earlier

Apprenticeships that commenced in 2010 or earlier are time-based.

Apprentice is not able to demonstrate competency in the workplace

You, as the employer, in discussion with the RTO, should work with the apprentice to assist them to gain the necessary skills in the workplace. In some cases, this may require further training through the RTO.

What if we can’t agree whether the apprentice is competent?

The best way to resolve an issue is for the parties to the training plan to discuss and determine an appropriate course of action.

If the issue cannot be resolved, and is related to wages and conditions, see:

If the issue is likely to impact on completion of the apprenticeship, the apprentice or employer should contact the VRQA on 1300 722 603. The VRQA may refer the matter to an Authorised Officer for further investigation.

For more information about VRQA Authorised officers, see: Regulatory field services

Duration of apprenticeship

The actual duration of an apprenticeship will differ for each apprentice.

Previous experience, training and the time it takes the apprentice to learn new skills, will all affect the length of an apprenticeship.

The training contract specifies a ‘nominal duration’. Most apprentices will complete their apprenticeship within this time. An apprenticeship ends once the apprentice is found competent by the RTO and this is confirmed by the employer in the workplace.​

Where an apprentice needs more time to achieve the required competencies, the ‘nominal duration’ can be extended. This can be arranged by contacting your Apprenticeship Network Provider.

Training fees and charges

All registered training organisations receiving government funding are required to charge tuition fees.

A charge may also be made for tools, student services and amenities, and take-home goods.

Fees are generally paid by the apprentice or trainee. Some industrial awards, however, require that these fees and charges are paid by the employer.

In many instances, employers who are not obliged to pay fees and charges for their apprentices or trainees do so voluntarily, or at least assist their apprentice or trainee to bear the costs.

Your apprentice or trainee will need to have all the details of fees and charges and who pays them, before they enrol.

Fees and charges are subject to change.

To find out the exact fees and charges ask your registered training organisation.

Difficulties in paying fees

If your apprentice or trainee is having difficulty paying their fees, there are some options open to them:

  • if they are attending a TAFE Institute, they may be eligible for a student loan
  • there may be concessions for apprentices or trainees holding a Health Care (including Low Income) Card
  • limited exemptions may be available.

Recognition of prior learning

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), for skills already gained through earlier training or experience, and Credit Transfer for relatd qualifications (such as a pre-apprenticeship) may shorten the nominal duration of the apprenticeship.

The RTO will identify any RPL or Credit Transfer as part of developing a training plan in conjunction with the employer and apprentice at the start of the apprenticeship.

The amount of credit should be noted in calculating the nominal duration, so that everyone is in agreement about the apprentice’s entitlements.

Group training

Group training is the easiest way to take on apprentices and trainees. In group training you get the benefits of carefully selected apprentices and trainees, short or long-term, without the bother of paperwork or payroll issues.

Group training organisations make it simpler for businesses to take on apprentices and trainees, because:

  • they carefully select suitable apprentices and trainees
  • they handle the paperwork and payroll
  • they provide ongoing support to make sure everything runs smoothly
  • you have the flexibility to meet peak workloads and seasonal variations without the worries of long-term contracts
  • you get quality apprentices and trainees with group training's proven performance

Who can use group training?

Any business can use group training to employ their apprentices or trainees because group training organisations are active in just about every industry - from the traditional trades through to community, personal and business services.

Get started

For more information:

Completion of apprenticeship

An apprenticeship ends once the apprentice is found competent by the RTO and this is confirmed by you, the employer.​

Completion of the apprenticeship means the apprentice becomes a qualified tradesperson. They will also ordinarily get a higher rate of pay.​

For more information, see: Completing an apprenticeship or traineeship

Cancelling the apprenticeship

Where an apprenticeship is cancelled but the apprentice still wants to complete their trade, they are known as an ‘out of trade’ apprentice.

Out of trade apprentices can continue their training until they complete their qualification or find a new employer. The government will subsidise the training.

The apprentice will need to continue to pay tuition fees.

If an out of trade apprentice completes their training without recommencing an apprenticeship, their qualification will not include the words ‘achieved through Australian Apprenticeship arrangements’. 

These words are only included on a certificate issued to someone who has completed their training whilst in an apprenticeship.

​For more information about assistance for out of trade apprentices, see: Financial Assistance

More information