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

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Are you looking to take the first steps in your construction career but are feeling confused about where to start? You’re not alone.

Embarking on your career path can be confusing, as there are many pathways to choose from. University or straight into the workforce? Apprenticeship or traineeship?  Which one do you choose? And what’s the difference?

Don’t worry; CTF’s Construction Futures Team is here to help by explaining the difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship and providing some tips on how to get started with both. 

Keep reading to find out more.

apprentice and employer

Why commence a traineeship or apprenticeship?

Jumping straight into the workforce usually begins with unskilled work, and it can be difficult to advance to more skilled work without proper training. However, with a traineeship or apprenticeship, you’re entering the workforce whilst learning all the skills you need to succeed.

In fact, both traineeships and apprenticeships help prepare you for the theoretical and practical work involved in your job so that you’re confident in your ability when you go out on your own. Traineeships and apprenticeships are a great head start for your career in the industry or trade of your choice. You learn new skills, gain experience, and get paid, all while working towards a nationally recognised qualification – plus, you won’t have student debt to pay off when you’re finished! Bonus!

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training and formal study (classroom-based or online) of a skilled trade such as bricklaying, electrical, plumbing and carpentry. They typically take three to four years full-time to complete, with part-time options available.

During this time, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in your trade of choice. Upon completion, you’ll receive a nationally recognised Trade Certificate. There are several options for starting an apprenticeship, depending on whether you’re still in school, a school leaver or an adult.

What is a traineeship?

Traineeships, like apprenticeships, include on-the-job training and formal study (classroom or online). However, unlike apprenticeships, traineeships can be for non-trade certificate qualifications in vocational areas such as site management, estimating or civil supervision.

They usually take one to two years full-time to complete, with part-time options. Once completed, again, like an apprenticeship, you’ll receive a nationally recognised qualification.

How are they similar?

Apprenticeships and traineeships, although different, share many similarities.

Some of these are:

  • You can start at any time

Neither apprenticeships or traineeships require you to have qualifications to apply; therefore, you can apply and begin at any time after the age of 15, even if you’re still in school.

  • On-the-job and off-the-job training

Apprenticeships and traineeships involve a combination of on-the-job training with an employer and off-the-job training with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) such as TAFE.

  • Earn while training

Just like any other employee, you will receive wages based on set pay rates, including any allowances and entitlements.

  • Receive a qualification

During your apprenticeship or traineeship, you’ll be working towards a nationally recognised qualification. Qualifications can range from a Certificate II to Certificate IV.

How are they different?

Due to the similarities, it’s easy to get confused between an apprenticeship and a traineeship.

To clear up any confusion, here are the differences:

  • Trade versus non-trade

This is the main difference. Apprenticeships cover traditional trades such as bricklaying, electrical, plumbing and carpentry, while traineeships cover non-trade areas such as Estimating, Supervision or Site Management.

  • Completion time

An apprenticeship typically takes three to four years full-time to complete, whereas a traineeship usually takes one to two years full-time.

The Civil Construction Pilot Program

Did you know that’s it’s possible for traineeships to change into apprenticeships?

In fact, nine existing civil construction traineeships have recently been transitioned into apprenticeships. This caused a wage gap, as junior apprentices are paid less than trainees.

The Civil Construction Pilot Program (CCPP) was created to offset this wage gap - a four-year program that is expected to increase the quality of training in civil construction.

To find out more about these apprenticeships, read about the Civil Construction Pilot Program here.

FAQs from budding apprentices and trainees

  • How can I find an apprenticeship or traineeship?

You can talk to an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) such as MEGT, The BUSY Group or Chambers Apprenticeship Support Australia, or speak directly to an employer.

  • Who organises off-the-job training?

Your chosen Registered Training Organisation is responsible for organising off-the-job training.

  • What happens after I finish my apprenticeship/traineeship?

After you’ve successfully completed your time and units, your training provider, employer, and yourself sign the completion agreement. This is then sent off to The Department of Training and Workforce Development, who give approval to your training provider to issue you with your certificate of completion.

  • How much will I get paid?

Your wage depends on the industry, type of qualification, and the Award staff are employed under; because of these factors pay rates for apprentices and trainees vary.

  • I’m still in school, can I start an apprenticeship or traineeship?

Yes. You can either enrol in a school-based pre-apprenticeship such as the CTF Pre Apprenticeship Scholarship Program, which means while you’re in years 11-12, you will gain work experience and attend off-the-job training 1 – 2 days a week as well as attending school. Or you can enrol in a School Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship, which involves paid part-time work and off-the-job training.

When you graduate or leave school, you can choose to continue your apprenticeship or traineeship with your employer or not.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are quite different, yet it’s their similarities that tend to cause confusion for people looking to start a career.

We hope we’ve helped clear up some of the confusion around what apprenticeships and traineeships are and their similarities and differences.  

Ready to start your career in construction?

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you today.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Construction Training Fund acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land throughout Western Australia and pay our respect to the Elders both past and present. We thank them for their ongoing custodianship of the lands and waters, and celebrate their rich culture of art, song, dance, language, and stories.