If you’re thinking of starting an apprenticeship or traineeship, awesome, they’re super important. Getting your apprenticeship started can be pretty involved. There are a few things you need to know and people can find it difficult to navigate the system.
We say ‘nah-uh, no more’. Read on for our 7 step guide to get the low-down on what info you need under your belt to protect yourself (and some nail biting puns).
1. What’s the difference between a trainee and an apprentice?
It’s worth knowing what you’re getting into. Trainees work towards a certificate level qualification in industries and occupations like business administration travel and retail. Whereas apprentices work toward a trade qualification like plumbing, carpentry or being an electrician.
2. Screw being treated differently.
Yes, it will take a while to skill you up to the level of your workmates, and sometimes you may be asked to do stuff you think is irrelevant. That sucks, but as you study and learn on the job you’ll see how it all fits in the bigger picture. But your rights to annual leave, sick leave, holiday pay, public holidays and to join a union if you want to are the same as everyone else’s. It’s an even playing field in the eyes of the law.
3. You should be reimbursed for your training costs.
If you’ve put the money down for your TAFE fees you’re covered for the cost, that’s IF you work hard consistently to progress through the course work. Your boss and the TAFE will work out whether your progress is satisfactory. You might even be covered for travel costs and accommodation for block release training depending on your award. So yeah, smash those grades and get stuff paid for.
4. Don’t get ripped off.
You’re entitled to wage increases as you progress through your apprenticeship/traineeship. That could be set by how fast and how well you complete your training, or by yearly increases. If you’re a school based apprentice, things are different again, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman website to find out more. Your employer also has to pay superannuation for you. That’s on top of your minimum wage and your employer can’t deduct it from your wages. Seriously.
5. Training contracts make it legit
Think of this as your safety harness. Your apprenticeship/traineeship is only legit if you have a training contract signed by you and your employer and it’s registered with the State or Territory Training Authority. You may not realise how important it is, but so much hinges on your training contract. If you don’t have a registered training contract, you’re not an apprentice. Your training contract sets out many of you and your employer’s responsibilities and obligations. But they change state to state. So… do some investigating.
6. Probation period
All apprenticeships have a probation period which usually ranges from 30 to 90 days. During this time you still have to be paid the correct minimum wage, entitlements and receive notice of termination, and either you or your employer can withdraw from the training contract (with notice). After this period, you or your employer can still request to cancel the training contract in certain circumstances. You can contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Provider for more information.
7. Life Hacks
Get into the habit of keeping records, like the hours you worked, any sick days or time off you’ve had, and receipts for textbooks. This will help you to check that you’re being paid correctly and will make life easier at tax time. There’s always help when you need it like using the Fair Work Ombudsman’s’ Record my Hours app and tools from – money smart to help you budget.
There’s also some income support assistance for apprentices.
This may be a lot of information at first, but if in doubt hit up the Fair Work for details or the Australian Apprenticeships Support Services Network.
Young people are some of the most vulnerable members of the workforce. Not having the right knowledge or experience means we’re more likely to have our rights exploited in the workplace. We decided to help change that. Educating Young Workers is a series we created with the good folks over at the Fair Work Ombudsman to share facts, help others understand their rights, and resolve issues.