5:00 PM, 19 Feb 2020

By taking part in on-the-job training, apprentices and trainees acquire important work experience in the industry whilst simultaneously working towards a nationally-recognised qualification.

Since apprenticeships and traineeships are competency-based, they combine on-the-job training with formal education. This gives the apprentices (or trainees) the opportunity to use their newly-learned skills in a variety of situations and working environments within the industry. 

Competency-based training is made up of several smaller components, otherwise known as units. Altogether, the units constitute a full qualification. There are practical and theoretical parts to every unit and you will successfully pass a unit when you can demonstrate the desired skills by completing assigned tasks. You may finish the training earlier if you progress quickly through each unit.

To equip apprentices and trainees with the expertise required in a specific workplace, it is possible to tailor the qualifications according to the employer's needs. By doing this, a company can improve the productivity of employees and teach them valuable knowledge and skills that can be used in the workplace.

The employer, training provider and apprentice will work together to develop a plan for how the training will be carried out. The purpose of this is to create a flexible learning approach that suits the needs of both the apprentice and the employer.

Adopting a flexible learning approach gives the concerned parties more choice regarding what, when, where and how the apprentice will learn. This approach focuses mainly on the learner's needs, and a variety of training and learning styles can be used. These include e-learning, distance learning, mixed-method delivery, independent learning and traditional classroom-based study.

What is a training organisation?

The role of a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) is to provide Vocational Education and Training (VET) that will equip apprentices and trainees with the qualifications and certifications required to work in the industry. These qualifications will be recognised throughout the industry and by other educational institutions across the country.

There are many different types of RTOs, including TAFE colleges, adult and community education institutes, schools and private providers. All RTOs are registered by the national Australian Skills Quality Authority, or by the State Training Authority for Western Australia and Victoria. Both authorities can provide and evaluate nationally recognised training programmes.

The RTO can subsidise the costs associated with formal training for apprentices/trainees. However, the apprentice may still have to pay some of the costs related to the training. The RTOs offer a variety of payment options, and they will provide you with more information about this during the enrolment process. 

Please be aware that not all RTOs are approved by state governments. You should consult with your Australian Apprenticeships Support Network provider during the enrolment process to help you select a reputable RTO.

Workplace training

Employers have to ensure that all parties involved in the training receive the best possible outcomes. They must carefully consider how the training will benefit them (by helping them to enhance their productive skills), as well as the benefits for their employees. They can do this by asking the employees for feedback regarding the perceived quality of the training received.
The training plan will contain information regarding which parts of the training will be provided by the RTO and which parts will be delivered by the employer (or supervisor) during the working day.  The Training Plan is flexible and can be adjusted at any point if any changes occur within the workplace.
The distinguishing features of high-quality apprentice training programmes include:

•    The presence of a coach, mentor or supervisor in the workplace
•    Clear and direct information about what will be learned
•    Setting aside time to explain, demonstrate and practice skills (this is especially important in cases where the skills being taught are specific to the job).
•    Giving and receiving feedback about the training, employer and training organisation on a regular basis. 
•    Identifying and addressing any issues before workplace relations and performance are affected 
•    Making sure that the training plan is continually monitored by all relevant parties (the employer, employee and training provider). This gives everyone the chance to assess whether the apprentice is on track to achieve the desired outcomes and whether records are being properly maintained.

The training contract

The employer and apprentice both sign and agree to a training contract when they officially register the apprenticeship (or traineeship). However, this document is not the same as the training plan, which provides details about the training process itself.

Once the training contract has been signed by both parties (employer and apprentice), it becomes a legally binding document. It ensures that the interests of both parties are protected, and highlights their respective obligations. Furthermore, it provides details of the training and supervision that will be given to the employee.

A copy of the contract is given to both the employer and the employee. Each party must keep hold of their copy throughout the entirety of the Australian Apprenticeship process. If you think you are likely to lose the document (remember you might need to access it several years later), it is recommended that you take a photo of it and make sure it is backed up in a secure place. 

In the contract, several areas of interest will be covered. These include: the qualification that will be received once the training is finished, the rough duration of the apprenticeship, the hours that will be assigned to working and training per week, the obligations of each party, the process for dealing with problems; and any details relating to on-the-job and off-the-job arrangements.