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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a formal training program where you will combine study, usually at Charles Darwin University, while actually working in your chosen field – so you can earn as you learn and get real world training. 

An apprenticeship is usually three to four years, and you’ll graduate as a qualified tradesperson.

Common apprenticeships include: 

  • Carpentry or building
  • Hairdressing
  • Mechanics
  • Cooking  

An apprenticeship can be full-time, part-time or school-based. You are required to find your own apprenticeship, and once you do, you and your employer must register the apprenticeship with the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network NT. 

Check out more info on apprenticeships in the NT here, where you can also find a handy guide on how to get started. 

Types of apprenticeships

There are two types of apprenticeships available in the NT: 

School-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBAT) 

A school-based apprenticeship is when you work part time and do your apprenticeship training while still in school. This training can be done while you are still studying for your Northern Territory Certificate of Education and Training at high school. It combines approximately one day paid work per week, vocational education and training (VET), and your school studies. If you complete both the formal and the on-the-job training whilst still at school, you will be able to be a full-time 2nd or 3rd year apprentice after you finish your NTCET. You must be at least 15 to do a school-based apprenticeship.

For more information, please visit here. 

Australian Apprenticeship 

An Australian Apprenticeship is for both school leavers and senior high school students. Australian apprentices must go through the Australian Apprenticeship Centre to commence the apprenticeship process – from here, you will be directed to contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) to organise your apprenticeship. In the NT, the only provider is the GTNT Group. 

The apprenticeship can be undertaken on a full time or part time basis, and you are responsible for applying for an apprentice job with an employer, and for enrolling in an approved course. See the federal government website Australian Apprentices for further information.

How old do I have to be to start an apprenticeship?

To begin an apprenticeship, you must be at least 15 years old.

You can even start an apprenticeship even while you are still at school. This means you can do years 10, 11 and 12 while doing your apprenticeship part time. 

For some occupations, a minimum age is required due to the risk to health, safety or morals for minors for this special kind of work. For example, you need to be 16 to work with dangerous equipment and 18 to work in areas that serve alcohol. 

Training Agreements

When you start an apprenticeship, you and your employer need to sign a training contract which sets out all the details of your apprenticeship, roles and responsibilities. 

  • If you are an Australian Apprentice, you must enter a training contract with your employer. In NT, these contracts must be registered with the GTNT Group. 

The NT Government has put together a handy timeline for starting your apprenticeship, including the registration process, which can be found here. 

  • A school-based apprentice must undertake their program either through Charles Darwin University, another ‘Registered Training Organisation’ (RTO), or sometimes even their school will be registered to offer an apprenticeship. You must sign a contract with your new employer, which must be registered with the GTNT Group. 

The NT Government has put together a guide on school based apprenticeships which can be found here.

Attending Charles Darwin University or another RTO in the NT

The learning component of apprenticeships in NT are undertaken through either Charles Darwin University or a ‘registered training organisation’ (RTO). This means the study or coursework part is done through the RTO, and you do the on the job training with your employer. Before you enrol, you need to have already found an employer willing to take you on as an apprentice. This employer will then contact GTNT Group, who will then contact the university or RTO to secure your placement. For more information on this process, see: How do I apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship. 

Most apprenticeships involve attending the university or RTO one day a week, and working the remaining four days, however this will vary if you’re completing your apprenticeship part time.

For more information of all the available courses you can as part of apprenticeship in the NT, visit NT Apprenticeships and Traineeships Database.

How much should I be paid?

An apprentice must be paid either as a full-time employee or a part-time employee, for all hours spent working and undertaking the approved study component.  There is no such thing as a “casual” apprenticeship. However, most apprentices are paid a percentage of the regular full-time rate; for example, a second year hairdressing apprentice must be paid no less than 60% of a fully qualified hairdresser rate. 

The rate you get will depend on what industry you work in, as well as whether your employment is covered by a modern award, or an enterprise agreement 

Depending on your Award or Enterprise Agreement, there may be other allowances that you are entitled to receive, including payments for books and other training materials.  

I’m an apprentice and someone is bullying or discriminating against me at work. What can I do?

Just because you’re an apprentice, it doesn’t mean your boss or work mates can treat you badly8.  Employers have a legal duty to ensure the safety of all workers.  This includes protecting workers from bullying, harassment (including sexual harassment), and discrimination. 

As an apprentice, you have the same legal protections as any other employee. If you are being bullied or discriminated against at work, please check out our pages on Workplace bullying and harassment, and Discrimination in the workplace for more information.  

Apprenticeships Support Australia has put together a free guide on bullying in the workplace for apprentices, called Heads Up 

You can also contact us here if something is going on and you would like advice on your options. 

How to make a complaint or enquiry

Sometimes things might go wrong with your apprenticeship, for example: 

  • Your training provider is providing poor quality education 
  • Your boss isn’t giving you time off to go to TAFE/university 
  • You’re not being paid properly; or 
  • You’re being bullied at work. 

For help, you can contact: 

Your union

If you are a member of a union, you can talk to your representative or a union official about what’s going on. They will be able to tell you how they can help, and guide you through the process. Click here if you are unsure which union you can join.

National Training Complaints Hotline

The Australian Government has established the National Training Complaints Hotline, which is a portal to make your complaint. The Hotline can refer your complaint to the most appropriate authority to have your complaint considered. You can make your complaint at National Training Complaints Hotline.

Australian Skills Quality Authority

You can contact the Australian Skills Quality Authority if you are having problems with your vocational training. They are responsible for putting together the courses and training courses that you undertake. 

To make a complaint, you will need to fill out a complaint form about an RTO. You can do that by calling them on 1300 701 801 or emailing them at [email protected]. You can also visit their website here here.

Australian Apprenticeship Centres  

Australian Apprenticeship Centres in each State and Territory can provide further information on Australian Apprenticeships. You can call them on 13 38 73 or visit their website here

Fair Work Ombudsman 

You can contact the FWO for assistance with information about apprenticeships and help with workplace entitlements for all states and territories, by phoning 13 13 94 or visiting FWO – help for apprentices and trainees. 

If you’re under 25, live in the NT and have a question about your apprenticeship, please contact us here for free information and advice. 


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