Your guide to apprenticeships and traineeships

Apprenticeships and traineeships combine practical work with a course of structured training. This allows apprentices and trainees to acquire theoretical knowledge and gain a nationally recognised VET qualification, while working part-time in the industry.

Apprenticeships and traineeships do not require a prior qualification, which means that they are open to anyone who would like to begin training in an occupation. To get started in an apprenticeship or traineeship, you will need to find an employer willing to take you on. Contact your local Apprenticeship Network Provider for more information.

What’s the difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship?

  • Apprenticeships are usually three to four years in duration, while a standard traineeship runs for 12 to 24 months
  • An apprenticeship involves working towards a traditional trade, such as carpentry, while a traineeship provides training in areas such as IT, business, healthcare and finance
  • Both traineeships and apprenticeships allow you to gain a nationally recognised qualification. This can lead you to further higher education opportunities.

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships

You can get a headstart on your training through a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. Students work towards an apprenticeship or traineeship part-time, while completing their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.


Pre-apprenticeships provide pathways into apprenticeships. They are completed at a lower qualification level and are shorter than apprenticeships and provide insight into an industry or occupation before commencement of further training. Pre-apprenticeships may provide credit towards an apprenticeship.

Higher apprenticeships

A recent addition to the education landscape, a higher apprenticeship is an alternative path to a professional qualification. The program is designed for school leavers and enables them to achieve a business-based qualification, while working.

Meet an apprentice

Andrew — Certificate III in Carpentry

Why did you choose to complete an apprenticeship?

I decided to complete an apprenticeship as I prefer hands-on, physical work. I chose carpentry as there are so many different aspects to it and it’s always very challenging.

What were the best elements of your apprenticeship? 

I found my apprenticeship through a friend who is also a carpenter. One great thing about a trade is that it’s generally very easy to find work through mutual acquaintances, especially once you’ve been in the industry for a few years.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect? Were there any surprises?

I found I learnt the most when working on very old homes, doing renovations and extensions. It also helps to never be afraid to ask a question, if you’re not sure just ask, it’s the best way to learn.

I think at the very start I didn’t think that carpentry would be so vast. Almost six years after I started my apprenticeship, I’m still learning new things and re-learning new ways for things that I already know.

Where has the apprenticeship led you?

Completing my apprenticeship has led me to start my own small business. I’ve always loved a challenge and when working for yourself, all responsibility is on you. Taking ownership of my work is incredibly rewarding.

Before I started my business, I tried to get as much advice from other carpenters and tradesmen who had started their own businesses. It was a great way to learn from their experiences, especially where they had made good or bad decisions in the past and how it affected them and their business.

One piece of advice I could give is to be patient. You will know when it’s the right time to go out on your own, but don’t expect it to be easy or think that it’s going to happen overnight. It’s a slow process, but eventually you build a strong client base and the contracts start coming in on their own.

What advice would you give to students considering an apprenticeship?

I always found that it was very important to get along with who you work for, don’t be afraid to make mistakes because it’s how you learn and remember, and the key to being a good tradesman is enthusiasm and effort.

This article originally appeared in: The Good Universities Guide

The Good Universities Guide. (2018). Pathways – Your guide to apprenticeships and traineeships. Retrieved from:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s