Apprenticeship and traineeship policy

Australian apprenticeships, known in the Northern Territory (NT) as apprenticeships and traineeships, are the best way to combine training and employment that leads to a nationally recognised qualification.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are available to anyone 15 years or older and do not require any entry qualifications. You can be:

  • at school
  • re-entering the workforce
  • already working and wanting to up-skill or gain a qualification - eligibility criteria applies
  • intending to change careers.

Apprenticeships or traineeships can be full-time, part-time or school-based. The supervised training can occur under a 'fee for service' arrangement or through NT Government user choice funding.

Apprenticeships and traineeships offer a great way to start a career with paid work and structured training that can be on-the-job, off-the-job or a combination of both.

Training is competency based which means training can be completed faster if the required skill level is attained. Relevant existing skills and prior experience can be recognised and course credit granted, potentially reducing formal training time.

Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider deliver support services to apprentices, trainees and employers on behalf of the NT and Australian governments and is the first point of contact in relation to apprenticeships and traineeships in the NT.


The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade through Workforce NT oversees the strategic direction and management of the apprenticeship and traineeship system in the NT. It is responsible for:

  • providing leadership and quality assurance through the development of strategic policy on the implementation, operation, maintenance, funding and incentives for apprenticeships and traineeships in the NT
  • determining and approving the types of apprenticeships and traineeships available in the NT, based on industry advice and identified need
  • managing the contract with Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider for outsourced regulatory and support services to apprentices, trainees and employers
  • providing funding to approved registered training organisations (RTOs) for the delivery of training services
  • monitoring the quality of delivery and outcomes for apprenticeships and traineeships, and
  • promoting and providing information on the apprenticeship system and its products.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are available in the NT at Certificate II through to Advanced Diploma levels in many occupations.

Apprenticeships are generally available in traditional trades, with traineeships available in a diverse range of occupations in most sectors of industry, business and community services.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are not available at the Certificate I level as these qualifications are more appropriate as pre-employment programs.

The Northern Territory Training and Skills Development Act

The Northern Territory Training and Skills Development Act sets out the requirements for:

  • the approval of the types of apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications available in the NT
  • the approval of employers taking on apprentices and trainees
  • approving and registration of contracts of training
  • ensuring the training plan is developed within the probationary period
  • employer obligations
  • registered training organisation requirements, and
  • the handling of disputes.

Apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications that are approved for delivery in the NT are listed on the NT apprenticeships and traineeships database.

Incentives are available to apprentices, trainees and employers through the Australian Apprenticeships Support Network. For more information go to the GTNT website.

The qualifications that support apprenticeships and traineeships are identified in nationally endorsed training packages. Apprenticeships and traineeships cannot be established in the NT until the implementation arrangements are finalised.

There are rules about who can become an apprentice or trainee in the NT.

Minimum age

The minimum age for apprentices and trainees, including school based apprentices and trainees is 15 years unless otherwise stated in an industrial award or agreement. Where the apprentice or trainee is under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian is required to approve the contract of training.

Information regarding age limits or minimum standards of education applying to particular apprenticeships or traineeships is available by:

  • referring to the appropriate modern award or workplace agreement applying to the trade or occupation
  • contacting the appropriate Training Advisory Council, or
  • contacting Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider industrial relations information service, or
  • relevant employer or union organisations.

From January 2010 any student intending to leave school must have completed year 10 as a minimum and be engaged in either full-time education, training or employment.

Where a student completes year 10 and is under the age of 17 years, he / she may be able to participate in a full time apprenticeship or traineeship as the eligible option of approved education or training as stated in the Education Act. The ultimate responsibility for compliance with minimum age limits that exist in legislation rests with the parents / guardians and employers

Residency status

The following people are eligible to enter into a contract of training in the NT and therefore participate in apprenticeships or traineeships, including those which may be funded under the user choice program:

  • Australian citizens
  • New Zealand citizens who have resided in Australia for the last six months
  • persons with permanent residency visas
  • persons with temporary protection visas.

Other visa holders may engage in apprenticeships and traineeships provided their work and training rights allow this based on information and advice provided by the Australian Government - Department of Home Affairs.

The department accepts no liability for false or misleading information provided by an employer or employee in relation to residency status that results in a person being illegally employed. Employers and / or RTOs must confirm the employability status of individual visa holders with the Department of Home Affairs.

If the department determines, after a contract of training has been registered, that the apprentice or trainee did not meet the eligibility criteria to undertake the apprenticeship / traineeship at the time of approval, the contract of training will be cancelled. The employer will be solely responsible for any financial consequences that ensue.

Existing workers

People already employed can still undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship. In some cases, the apprenticeship or traineeship may be eligible for NT Government funding. Refer to the user choice funding policy to ascertain the conditions that funding for existing workers is available.

Part-time apprenticeships and traineeships

Part-time apprenticeships or traineeships are available, provided the relevant industrial award or agreement has provision for this. Under a part-time apprenticeship or traineeship, subject to any industrial arrangement, an employee is required to work a minimum of 15 hours per week, averaged over each four-week period for the duration of the apprenticeship / traineeship.

Casual or daily hire employees are not eligible to undertake an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Averaging of hours - minimum hours of employment and training

The averaging of hours of employment and training should be permitted for all contracts of training. Full-time and part-time hours of employment and training may be averaged over four weeks.

School based hours of employment and training may be averaged over three months.

Minimum hours of paid employment and training per week for part-time contracts of training are at least 15 hours per week and for school based contracts of training are at least seven and a half hours per week

Completion of on the job only

Persons who have completed and have been issued a qualification through an institution based pathway, may request recognition by applying to Australian Apprenticeships NT to undertake an on the job only apprenticeship / traineeship. Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider will notify the department who will assess each application on an individual basis.

Cross border mobility

Temporary transfer

Where an apprentice / trainee is temporarily mobile across borders, but remains with the same employer, the contract of training will continue and a cancellation / recommencement will not be required. The employer will be required to put in place arrangements for the training and assessment of the apprentice / trainee.

Permanent transfer

Where an apprentice / trainee remains with the same employer and is transferred permanently to the NT, the employer is required to notify the state authority in the registering jurisdiction in writing of the intention to relocate the apprentice / trainee permanently.

The state training authority (STA) in the original jurisdiction will facilitate the transfer by processing and forwarding the variation to the department for processing by Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider who will recommence the apprentice / trainee according to the relevant details. New funding arrangements will need to be established.

If the employer and apprentice / trainee need to cancel the contract of training in the original jurisdiction and re-establish it in the NT, the department will endeavour to make this transfer as seamless as possible.

Credit for previous experience or service

Apprentices and trainees may apply to their RTO for credit for previous experience related to the apprenticeship or traineeship.

A claim for credit usually occurs when a person commences or recommences in an apprenticeship or traineeship, or has substantial work experience in an industry or related industry sector.

Any credit that is applied can reduce the balance of the nominal term and subsequently affect the nominal completion date of the apprenticeship or traineeship.

When an apprentice or trainee has no other option than to travel away from home to attend off-the-job training, the department may provide subsidised financial assistance for travel and accommodation.

If an employer chooses a RTO who is not funded by the department, the costs associated with the off the job training will be met by the employer. This includes costs associated with travel and accommodation.

For further information in relation to eligibility to claim for travel and accommodation assistance, refer to the apprenticeships and traineeships travel and accommodation subsidy scheme policy or the Australian Apprenticeships Support Network on the GTNT website.

Wages and conditions of employment for apprentices and trainees in the NT are covered in appropriate industrial awards and agreements. Apprenticeships Australian Support Network provider operate a workplace relations helpline to assist apprentices and trainees and their employers with enquiries regarding rates of pay, entitlements and conditions.

Go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

RTOs must apply to deliver training and assessment services for apprenticeships and traineeships in the NT.

They must comply with national registration standards.

This standard is dependent on whether your RTO is registered with a state training authority (STA) or with the national regulator Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA):

  • RTOs registered with STAs are required to maintain their compliance with the Australian Qualification Training Framework essential conditions and standards for continuing registration including the conditions of registration, and
  • RTOs registered with ASQA are required to maintain their compliance with the legislative instruments as described within the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011, and those imposed by ASQA on the registration of a particular RTO
  • all RTOs are required to abide by the NT Training and Skills Development Act.

Organisations seeking to employ apprentices and trainees and host them out to 'host employers' on a short or long term basis are required to apply to the department for recognition as a group training organisation. Refer to the group training organisations policy and apprentice and trainee hosting policy.

The responsibility for developing and maintaining this policy rests with the director of Training Services.

The responsibility for approving this policy rests with the executive director of Workforce NT.

Apprenticeships / traineeships:

A legally binding national contract of training between an employer and an apprentice or trainee (and a parent or guardian if under 18 years) that combines structured training with paid employment.

Apprenticeships are generally at Certificate III level and above in the traditional trade occupations such as builders, construction workers, plumbers, mechanics and electricians, as well as other occupations such as chefs, butchers and hairdressers. Apprenticeships may take three to four years to complete (however, competency based training principles must be applied).

Traineeships are more common in industries such as retail, hospitality, business services, information technology and community services and are usually one to two years in duration, or more for higher level and management qualifications. Competency based training principles must be applied.

The apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications that are approved under the NT Training and Skills Development Act are listed on the NT apprenticeships and traineeships database.

Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider:

The organisation contracted by the NT and Australian governments to provide a range of administrative, support and regulatory services. These include:

  • provision of information and advice to employers, apprentices, trainees and other interested parties
  • administering the contract of training and assessing eligibility for NT and Australian government incentives ad funding
  • monitoring apprentices and trainees in the workplace and with the RTO.

Australian qualifications framework (AQF):

The policy framework that defines all qualifications recognised nationally in post-compulsory education and training within Australia. The AQF comprises titles and guidelines, which define each qualification, together with principles and protocols covering articulation and issuance of qualifications and statements of attainment.

Credit transfer:

The granting of status or credit by a RTO to students for modules (subjects) or units of competency completed at the same or another RTO.

National training package:

An integrated set of nationally endorsed competency standards, assessment guidelines and AQF qualifications for a specified industry, industry sector or enterprise.

Out of trade apprentice / trainee:

Refers to a person whose contract of training has been cancelled prior to completion of the apprenticeship or traineeship qualification, but who continues to receive relevant off-the-job training while making every endeavour to find another employer to continue and complete their apprenticeship / traineeship.

Learner support:

Is the provision of resources and instructional strategies that give students the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual support needed to improve their commitment and outcomes in the teaching and learning environment.

Contract of training:

A legally binding agreement between an employer and an apprentice or trainee. It allows for the apprentice / trainee to undertake structured training that leads to a nationally recognised qualification. It specifies the rights and obligations of both parties. If the apprentice / trainee is under 18 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must sign the contract of training.

Training plan:

Outlines the skills or competencies that the apprentice / trainee should achieve during the apprenticeship / traineeship. A training plan must be completed regardless of whether the training will take place on or off the job or a combination of both. The RTO is responsible for negotiating the content of the training plan with the employer, apprentice / trainee and parent / guardian (when required). The training plan must be consistent with the national training plan principles and meet the qualification packaging rules of the training package.

The training plan must be developed and lodged with Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider within the probation period of the apprenticeship.

Last updated: 05 June 2019

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