Apprenticeships or traineeships (also known as ‘Australian Apprenticeships’) are available to anyone of working age. You do not need a secondary school certificate or other qualification to be able to do an Australian Apprenticeship but some employers may prefer their potential apprentices to have one, or have achieved minimum levels in relevant subjects at school. You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult worker simply wishing to change careers. You may also be able to commence your apprenticeship or traineeship while you’re still at school finishing Years 11 and 12.

Apprenticeships or traineeships provide an opportunity to train and earn an income at the same time while working towards a nationally recognised qualification. These qualifications can be at varying levels, ranging from entry level to trade and post trade.

Apprenticeships and traineeships can offer a great career path to careers in almost every industry. You can check out someof the pathways here: AAP

Research has also shown that employment outcomes and earnings for those undertaking vocational education and training (such as apprenticeships and traineeships) are often higher and sooner than those undertaking university pathways post completion. Plus, no HECS-HELP debt!

The jobs and types of work in trade areas have changed a lot over the years with technology and innovation. Starting with a trade qualification can set you on a path to career opportunities including management and leadership roles as well as higher learning opportunities in related fields. An apprenticeship or traineeship is just the beginning of your career journey.

There are also fantastic opportunities for women in the trades with industry recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce.

How much you get paid will depend on the award, enterprise agreement or minimum wage you are employed under.

Currently, in Western Australia, there are more than 80 types of apprenticeships and 400 types of traineeships available.

Both apprenticeships and traineeships are sometimes referred to collectively as ‘Australian Apprenticeships’ but there are some differences.

Apprenticeships are usually 3-4 years in duration (depending on type) and are generally full time. They are mainly offered in what are referred to as ‘traditional trades’. They involve on and off the job training. The off the job training can be on a day per week basis or in block release, where apprentices are released from their on the job commitments to undertake full time training for a week or two (usually) at a registered training provider such as TAFE. Upon successful completion, most apprentices achieve a Cert III level qualification. A trade certificate is issued by the Western Australian Department of Training and Workforce Development when an individual has successfully completed an applicable qualification.

Traineeships by contrast are usually 12-24 months in duration (or the full time equivalent), and can be undertaken either full time or part time. They are offered in a much wider range of industries and occupations and generally provide a qualification anywhere from Cert II level up to Diploma level and beyond in some industries. Many traineeships can be progressed onto a higher level of traineeship.

Some traineeships also require off the job training although many can be completed full on the job with an approved assessor visiting you in the workplace to ensure you have achieved the necessary competencies for your qualification.

Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system is competency-based. That is, it is based on occupational skills standards which are set out in units of competency within training packages and accredited courses. This distinguishes it from Australia’s other education sectors (i.e. schools and higher education).

Competency-based training is a method of training that focuses on a learner’s ability to receive, respond to and process information in order to achieve competency. It is geared towards the attainment and demonstration of skills to meet industry-defined standards, rather than to a learner’s achievement relative to that of others.

Learner progress in a competency-based program is not time-based. As soon as a learner achieves a required competency, they can move to the next.

Competency-based training is characterised by the following key features:

  • It is based on units of competency (hence the term competency-based)
  • It is outcomes-focused, relying less on inputs such as curriculum and more on a learner’s ability to consistently apply their knowledge and skills to the standard of performance required in the workplace
  • It involves work-based learning
  • It is self-paced and flexible.


Progression and successful completion of an apprenticeship or traineeship requires the attainment of all required competencies, regardless of how long the apprentice or trainee has been undertaking their program.