Trainees and Apprentices


Trainees undertake on-the-job work (usually four days per week) as well as training provided by a college or other training provider (usually one day each week). In some cases the training is provided on the job. Make sure you understand the training arrangements that apply to you.

All trainees are employed under an appropriate award or an approved enterprise agreement and receive the benefits set out in these documents.

If you want to check the arrangements of your traineeship, you can contact the State Training Services on 13 28 11.

Pay rates

Trainee wages vary according to the industry in which they are employed, the stage they have reached and the skills they have acquired.

To find out your traineeship wage, you can contact Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

School-based apprenticeships

NSW school students can now start a part-time apprenticeship while enrolled in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) from the end of Year 10.

The types of apprenticeships available are in the automotive, metals and engineering, commercial cookery, electro technology and construction industries.

Further details about how these apprenticeships work can be found on the State Training Services website.

School-based apprentices are entitled to all the conditions of full-time apprentices but on a pro-rata basis.

If you are not sure which award applies to your school-based apprenticeship, please contact Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

Considering an apprenticeship

Becoming an apprentice is a great way to turn a specific interest or talent that you have into a full-time job. As an apprentice you get to work in the industry 4 days a week and one day a week you attend TAFE as part of your 5 day working week. In some cases, you can also start your apprenticeship while still at school. Talk to your careers adviser about this possibility.

Your employer would be responsible for registering you as an apprentice.

Your responsibilities

As an apprentice you'll have certain responsibilities including:

  • attending training sessions at TAFE
  • completing all assignments and other assessments set by TAFE
  • maintaining a record book or work evidence guide
  • obeying all instructions given by your employer in the workplace
  • following the training plan to ensure you obtain your qualifications.

Probationary period

If you accept an apprenticeship, you'll be put on a three-month probation period which:

  • gives time for both you and your employer to determine your suitability to the trade
  • allows your employer to assess you on the job
  • lets your employer review your performance during the probation period.

Work experience

There is a difference between completing a work experience program and working a trial or probation period in a job.

Work experience programs are usually conducted through a registered educational training organisation - like a school, TAFE or university and are legal.

The purpose of work experience is for students to observe other workers and gain experience in the workplace.

Often work experience programs are integrated with vocational training courses.

Volunteer work

A business can't ask you to work as a volunteer. They must pay you for the work that you do.

It is possible to work as a volunteer for a 'not for profit' organisation, such as a charity, and not be paid for the work you do.

Unpaid trial work