Questions and answers

What are the main features of school-based apprenticeships and traineeships?

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships allow senior high school students to commence an apprenticeship or complete a traineeship while at school. School-based apprentices work part-time and undertake the first stage of their apprenticeship training before the end of the HSC year. School-based trainees work part-time and complete their traineeship by the end of their HSC year.

Both the on-the-job and off-the-job training undertaken by school-based apprentices/trainees can contribute to their HSC. School-based apprentices will commence full-time employment as a 2nd year apprentice from January after their HSC, providing that they have successfully completed both their on-the-job and off-the-job training program during their senior high school years.

How long will it take a school-based apprentice to gain a qualification as a tradesperson?

Most apprenticeships in NSW are for a term of up to four years full-time employment. For school-based apprenticeships, this term is broken down into parttime and part-time components.

A typical pattern, where a school-based apprentice undertakes a two year HSC program, will result in the apprentice gaining their trade qualification within 5 years of commencing their school-based apprenticeship – that is, after completing the HSC, the apprentice will have up to 3 years of full-time employment as an apprentice.

This pattern can be varied for students who undertake their HSC over a period of more than two years. School students who study their HSC over 3, 4 or 5 years will still need to complete up to three years full-time work as an apprentice after their HSC before gaining their trade qualification.

The period of post HSC employment may be reduced if the apprentice gains all their on-the-job skills in a shorter period of time.

What are the minimum requirements that a school-based apprentice or school-based trainee must complete while they are at school?

While at school, the school-based apprentice must complete a specified number of days of paid employment as a first-year apprentice. For many trades the minimum requirement is 100 days but for some trades (e.g. electrical and electronics trades) it may be as high as 180 days.

School-based apprentices will be enrolled in the relevant trade course, generally at Certificate III level, from the beginning of their apprenticeship. The formal training component to be completed while at school is generally equivalent to what a full-time apprentice would complete in their first year.

School-based apprentices must complete the formal training component by the end of Term 3 before the HSC to ensure the student receives appropriate credit for the HSC. They must complete the minimum number of days of paid employment by 31 December of the HSC year to progress into the next stage of their apprenticeship.

A school-based trainee will be enrolled in the relevant qualification at a Certificate II or Certificate III level. They must complete a minimum of 100 days of paid employment, or as specified in the relevant Vocational Training Order. They must also complete their formal training component by the end of Term 3 before the HSC, to ensure the student receives appropriate credit for the HSC.

Who will provide the formal training for school-based apprentices/trainees?

School-based apprentices and trainees in New South Wales will undertake their apprenticeship training through TAFE NSW or a private Registered Training Organisation authorised to provide apprenticeship / traineeship training. The student’s school may also deliver the formal training on school premises if it is authorised to do so.

In most cases school-based apprentices will continue their enrolment with the same training organisation once they commence full-time work as an apprentice after the HSC, and will complete their formal training within a further two years.

What qualifications will I receive when I have completed my apprenticeship / traineeship?

When the formal training component of the apprenticeship or traineeship has been successfully completed, a qualification will be issued to the apprentice/trainee by the Registered Training Organisation.

Evidence of successful completion of the on-the-job training will be a letter from the employer confirming that the apprentice/trainee has completed their term of employment and has attained skills and knowledge to industry standard.

When both the formal and on-the-job training have been successfully completed, apprentices and trainees receive a Certificate of Proficiency issued by Training Services NSW.

How will a school-based apprenticeship/traineeship fit in with my HSC?

All school-based apprentices must study HSC VET courses that match the training provided to first year full-time apprentices. These HSC VET courses will generally contribute a minimum of 4 units of HSC credit out of the 22 units required for the HSC.

The formal training undertaken by a school-based trainee will also contribute a minimum of 4 units of credit required for the HSC. A list of competencies will be submitted by the school to the NSW Education Standards Authority. Additional HSC unit credit may be applicable for both school-based apprenticeship and school-based traineeship courses depending on the qualification.

School-based apprentices/trainees may also elect to undertake the Industry-Based Learning Board Endorsed Course that can contribute up to 4 additional units of HSC credit. Assessment of these units will be based on evidence of industry-based skills built up through paid employment as an apprentice/trainee during the HSC years.

Further information on school-based apprenticeships/traineeships in the HSC is available on the Vocational Education and Training section of the NSW Education Standards Authority website at: Vocational Education & Training

How is a school-based apprenticeship/traineeship established?

School-based apprenticeships/traineeships are established and protected in the same way as a fulltime apprenticeship/traineeship. The parties to the apprenticeship/traineeship (that is, the employer and the apprentice) sign a training contract, which is a binding agreement that sets out the trade or vocation, details of the employer and the apprentice/trainee, the commencement date and the expected term of the apprenticeship/traineeship. The training contract sets out the responsibilities and obligations of each party. A parent or guardian will also sign the contract if the apprentice/trainee is under 18 years of age. The training contract is prepared and lodged with Training Services NSW by the employer’s preferred Apprenticeship Network Provider.

The training contract will become binding on both parties once the application has been approved and the probationary period has elapsed. The employer may apply to have the probationary period extended if they haven’t had sufficient opportunity to assess the suitability of the apprentice/trainee.

A training plan is also prepared in conjunction with the training contract. The training plan specifies the training organisation that will provide the formal training and the proposed pattern of part-time employment that will result in the apprentice/trainee meeting their minimum employment requirements by the end of the HSC year.

What is the latest a school student can start as a school-based apprentice/trainee?

As school-based apprenticeships and traineeships are a Stage 6 (senior high school) program, most school students undertaking school-based apprenticeships/traineeships will commence at the end of Year 10 or the beginning of Year 11. Applications for these students should be submitted well before the end of the first term Year 11. Some students may begin during Year 10 if this is approved by the school.

Students wishing to commence a school-based apprenticeship/traineeship at a later time may be able to do so, but applications cannot be approved unless the training plan confirms that the formal training can be completed before the HSC and the minimum part-time employment requirement can be met by 31 December of the HSC year.

What employment protection do I have as a school-based apprentice/trainee? Are there differences in comparison to a full-time apprentice/trainee?

In NSW, an approved apprenticeship/traineeship can only be terminated by consent of the parties or by order of the Vocational Training Tribunal. This principle applies equally to school-based apprenticeships and traineeships as to other types of training contracts.

Under the Industrial Relations (Child Employment) Act 2006 employers in NSW must provide young people with fair pay and conditions, irrespective of whether they have coverage under the State or Federal industrial relations system. See for more information about young people’s entitlements.

Can a school-based apprenticeship/traineeship be cancelled before the HSC?

Apprenticeships and traineeships, including school-based apprenticeships/traineeships, can be cancelled at any time by the mutual consent of the parties.

School-based apprentices/trainees whose training contracts are cancelled prior to the completion of their HSC may be able to continue their study in the HSC VET course they have been undertaking as part of their apprenticeship/traineeship. However, cancellation before completion of the HSC may impact on the HSC unit credit available from the Industry Based Learning Board Endorsed Course.

When is a school-based apprentice expected to begin full-time work as an apprentice?

School-based apprentices will be expected to commence full-time work as an apprentice from 1 January after their HSC. If they have not completed the required number of days of employment as an apprentice prior to their HSC they may be required to continue their on-the-job training after the HSC so that they meet the minimum requirement before commencing full-time employment after 1 January.

Students who have completed their on-the-job training requirement prior to the HSC may negotiate with their employer to take any accrued leave in the period after the HSC and before 1 January.

What if a school-based apprentice wants to have a break in their apprenticeship after the HSC?

School-based apprenticeships, like all apprenticeships and traineeships in NSW, may be cancelled or suspended at any time by the mutual consent of the parties. School-based apprentices who do not wish to commence full-time work as an apprentice from 1 January after completing their HSC must seek the consent of their employer to suspend or cancel their apprenticeship.

An apprentice whose apprenticeship has been cancelled will be entitled to receive credit for time spent working as an apprentice if they resume their apprenticeship at a later stage.

Can a school-based apprentice/trainee change employer?

Apprenticeships and traineeships, including school-based apprenticeships/traineeships, may be transferred to another employer subject to the consent of all three parties: the existing employer, the proposed employer and the apprentice/trainee.

What happens if an employer doesn’t have enough work for their school-based apprentice/trainee?

Employers taking on school-based apprentices/trainees are required to make a commitment to employing and training the apprentice/trainee for the duration of the training contract. As with all apprenticeships and traineeships, employers who cannot meet their obligation to provide employment and training because of changes that affect their business may apply for cancellation or suspension of the training contract.

Employers and apprentices/trainees should contact their local Training Services NSW regional office on 13 28 11 as soon as they become aware of circumstances that may result in an application for cancellation or suspension of the apprenticeship or traineeship. Training Services NSW officers may be able to assist the employer and apprentice/trainee by organising placement of the apprentice/trainee with another employer.

Applications for cancellation or suspension supported by both the employer and the apprentice/trainee will be approved. Applications for cancellation or suspension supported by one party only may be referred to the Vocational Training Tribunal for a determination.

What support will be provided to school-based apprentices and trainees?

School-based apprentices/trainees who need help with their formal training should contact their school's careers adviser, VET coordinator or school-based apprenticeships/ traineeships coordinator in the first instance. If they have questions or need help regarding their on-the-job training with their employer they should contact their local Training Services NSW regional office on 13 28 11 for assistance.

What help can Training Services NSW provide to school-based apprentices/trainees and their employers?

Training Services NSW, through its network of regional offices, provides assistance and support to all apprentices and trainees. Apprentices and trainees can contact their local Training Services NSW regional office on 13 28 11.

School-based apprentices/trainees and employers can contact their local Training Services NSW office for:

  • information about the availability and suitability of apprenticeships and traineeships for the workplace
  • advice about entering into an apprenticeship or traineeship and their obligations under the training contract
  • enquiries about varying the training contract
  • help with problems in the workplace
  • help with training or assessment services provided by the Registered Training Organisation
  • support for school-based apprenticeships and school-based traineeships across NSW.
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