Boost Your Team with Apprentice Talent

Australia’s worker shortage affects just about every industry, according to the oft-updated official priority skills list.

Dip into that link and you’ll find out what’s causing the shortages, such as a long or short training gap, a suitability gap or retention issues.

So, if there’s poor interest in your skilled job vacancies, there’s another way – build your own talent pipeline with apprenticeships or trainees. Find out more about the benefits to your business here.

There are pros and cons to this approach and more than one way to go about it.

For example, you can develop your own apprenticeship program in house. A good starting point is connecting with an approved Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider. They’re a free service for advice, support can match apprentices with employers and offer mentoring, counselling, and career guidance to apprentices/trainees.

Alternatively, your small-to-medium-sized business (SME) could become a host employer by delegating some of the managing tasks to group training organisation (GTO).

As a business hiring apprentices or trainees, you may be eligible for financial incentives.

Apprentices or trainees: What’s the difference

Here’s a quick breakdown of the key differences between apprenticeships and traineeships.

Apprenticeships tend to cover skilled trades and takes up to four years, either full or part-time. Meanwhile, traineeships are available in a wider range of occupations and can be completed in a year or two.

Typically, both types mean the apprentice or trainee:

  • Earn while they learn – they gain experience and new skills while getting paid
  • Do valuable hands-on training in a real workplace
  • Obtain nationally recognised qualification(s) – some earn dual qualifications
  • Opt into flexible study options – part or full time
  • Enjoy the same benefits and conditions as other employers, and
  • Won’t have a debt once they qualify.

Understanding your obligations

As an employer of an apprentice/trainee, you’re obligated to

  • Pay their wages – find out about their pay rates, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman
  • Meet employment conditions that can include overtime, holidays, personal leave, and superannuation
  • Provide them with opportunities for skill and knowledge development in the occupation, access to structured training, paid time work off to attend that when necessary, and
  • Ensure a safe working environment.

Important to know that if you use a GTO, you’ll be paying them a fee. They are then responsible for paying wages, allowances, superannuation, workers compensation, sick or holiday pay and other employment benefits. Typically, they will mentor, not supervise, the apprentice/trainee and support both them and the host employer, such as your business.

What type is right for your business?

There are more than 500 occupations for which there are apprenticeships or traineeships. They’re a great information resource repository that saves you starting from scratch to create a training program aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework and which meets your business needs.

As mentioned above, apprenticeships are usual trades, including building, construction, hairdressing, cooking, manufacturing, and engineering.

Meanwhile, traineeships typically cover information technology, hospitality, retail, agriculture, and landscaping.

However, some industries may offer both. Consider automotive where apprenticeships or traineeships are available in fuel technology, bodywork, sales, manufacturing and more.

By the way, apprentices or trainees can be:

  • School age or school leavers
  • People re-entering the workforce, or
  • Career changers.

Your state or territory government should have more information, such as this one for NSW.

If you need to cancel the apprenticeship or traineeship

Occasionally, the appointment of an apprentice or a trainee isn’t a good fit for a business or they decide to move on for other reasons. If your SME needs to alter, cancel, transfer, or suspend a training contract, this is the usual process:

  • Seek advice, such as from your Australian Apprentices Centre or training services office in your state or territory, or a group training organisation
  • Request a transfer, suspension, or amendment of the contract from your area’s training services office
  • The employer and the apprentice/trainee can apply to that office to extend the probation period of up to three months, if needed, and
  • Employers can cancel a contract if the apprentice/trainee quits, you wish to end it, they aren’t coping, or you’re keen to move them into another position.

This is where a group training organisation (GTO), such as this not-for-profit company that has been operating across Australia for 40 years-plus, can come in handy. GTOs hire the apprentice/trainee and place them with a ‘host employer’ such as your business. If it doesn’t work out, despite the GTO’s ongoing support to you and the hire, your business could ask for a replacement apprentice/trainee.

Businesses that hire apprentices or trainees must include them in their workers’ compensation insurance. Make sure yours is current.