Apprenticeships and traineeships

What are they?

Apprenticeships and traineeships combine paid work and structured training. They allow you to learn a trade or workplace skill and receive a nationally accredited qualification.

Apprenticeships usually last three or four years and cover traditional trades such as carpentry, electrical, hairdressing and plumbing.

Traineeships usually last one or two years and provide training in newer vocational areas not usually covered by apprenticeships. Traineeships are available for a wide range of careers in most sectors of business and industry.

Apprenticeships and traineeships can be undertaken either full-time or part-time.

Apprenticeships and traineeships include:

  • Paid employment under an appropriate industrial arrangement
  • A training agreement between the employer and apprentice or trainee which is registered with the NSW Department of Education and Communities
  • Structured on-the-job training
  • A training program, delivered by a Registered Training Organisation (such as TAFE NSW), through which you will gain a nationally recognised qualification

Who can become an apprentice or trainee?

Apprenticeships and traineeships are available to anyone of working age. You can be a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or an adult worker simply wishing to change careers. You do not need to have the Higher School Certificate or another qualification.

How do I become an apprentice or trainee?

You'll need to find an employer with a vacancy or interest in taking on apprentices or trainees. The Australian Apprenticeships Centre, Centrelink or your local employment agency will be able to provide you with details of employers like this.

Pre-apprenticeship courses

We offer a range of pre-apprenticeship courses in areas where there is a shortage of skilled workers, such as carpentry and automotive trades, to help you get into an apprenticeship faster. After one of these courses, you'll also finish your Certificate III apprenticeship qualification in less time.

We can also give you basic skills to help you gain a traineeship. We offer, for example, a range of computer courses which give you the basic skills that employers are now looking for.

More information

For more information about apprenticeships and traineeships, visit:

Vocational Training Orders

In NSW, Vocational Training Orders (VTOs) set out in detail what you have to do to complete a particular apprenticeship or traineeship.

For each apprenticeship or traineeship, a separate VTO specifies the relevant qualification (from Certificate level II to level IV) and the national competency standards which underpin that qualification. It also specifies how long you must train as an apprentice or trainee before you can gain your qualification.

You can find out more about industrial arrangements and the certification requirements of VTO qualifications in NSW in Commissioner's Information Bulletins.

The State Training Services website has more information about apprenticeship or traineeship VTOs in NSW, including job descriptions, lists of competencies, terms of training and links to industrial arrangements.