Jargon buster

Once you start looking into apprenticeships and traineeships, you’ll probably come across a heap of words you haven’t heard before: technical terms, job titles, organisations and programs. You’ll definitely hear about a lot of places with letters for names.

We’ve put this list together to help you decode these terms, and figure out what they mean for your journey as an apprentice or trainee. Read through this resource when you get stuck, or use the search bar to look for content on each term.


AEN (Apprenticeship Employment Network): Represents not-for-profit GTOs (Group Training Organisations) across Victoria. Through its members, AEN employs more than 6000 apprentices and trainees across many different industry sectors.

AIF (Apprenticeship Innovation Fund): An $8 million fund backing new approaches to the apprenticeship and traineeship model, undertaken in partnership with industry and unions. The fund includes a specific stream to support innovative projects encouraging more women into apprenticeships.

ANP (Apprenticeship Network Provider): All apprenticeships and traineeships must be registered with an ANP within 14 days of employment. These service providers manage contract signing, run incentive programs, and can offer support to current and potential apprentices and trainees.

Apprenticeship: A learning pathway combining formal study with paid employment. Apprenticeships mostly provide training in a skilled trade, such as building and construction, hairdressing, cooking, electrical and automotive. They can take anywhere from 3.5 to 4 years.

Apprenticeships Victoria: A partnership between the Victorian Government, major project employers and the TAFE and training system to oversee and coordinate the employment and training of apprentices and trainees.

Approved training schemes: are determined by the VRQA and specify which qualifications are available as apprenticeships and traineeships in Victoria. Each scheme includes terms and conditions such as the nominal duration of an apprenticeship or traineeships, probationary periods and minimum hours for employment and training. See here for list of approved training schemes.

ASO (Apprenticeships Support Officer): ASOs help registered apprentices – and their employers – get the most out of the apprenticeship system, with free and confidential support and advice. They’re part of a Victorian Government initiative to keep more apprentices in jobs and help more people complete their training.


BBA (Big Build Apprenticeships): BBAs offer apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities on some of Victoria’s biggest road and rail projects. Participants get to play an important role in rebuilding our economy.

Big Build: The Victorian Government is investing $70 billion into major road and rail projects – we call this the Big Build. It’s all about transforming our state for the future.

Certificate: Many apprentices and trainees work towards a Certificate level qualification. Certificates are great for starting a new career or upskilling with more specialised skills.

Competencies: Apprentices and trainees must demonstrate certain competencies throughout their training. This means showing you can do specific tasks with the required amount of skill.

Diploma: Some apprentices and trainees work towards a Diploma. These courses specialise more deeply in one area, and generally take longer to complete than Certificate-level qualifications.


Fair Work Ombudsman: Sets standards for Australian workplace laws. Apprentices, trainees and employers can find information on pay rates, conditions and entitlements at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Free TAFE Initiative: The Victorian Government covers tuition fees for eligible students in priority courses across lots of different industries, from health and community services to agriculture and construction.

GTO (Group Training Organisation): An organisation that employs apprentices and trainees, then places them with host employers. The GTO organises training contracts and arranges all training needed for the apprenticeships or traineeships.

HA (Higher Apprenticeship): An HA is an innovative new qualification that extends the benefits of the apprenticeship and traineeship model to training at level 5 and above on the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Head Start: Head Start is a new and flexible approach to apprenticeships and traineeships for school students. Designed in consultation with industry, it allows students to spend more time doing valuable, paid, on-the-job training while completing their VCE or VCAL at school.

Industry awards: Pay rates and entitlements for apprentices and trainees are generally covered by industry awards. These outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment.


Mainstream apprenticeships and traineeships: This is the main track for apprenticeships and traineeships, covering a huge range of occupations from floristry to plumbing to financial services. Like all apprenticeships and traineeships, participants get real wages while learning new skills that can set them up for life.

NES (National Employment Standards): Minimum employment standards for all employees. Employers need to give all employees (including apprentices or trainees) a copy of the NES – and make sure their business complies with these standards.

Off-the-job training: The formal study requirement of an apprenticeship or traineeship. This takes place at a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), usually a Victorian TAFE institute.

On-the-job training: Supervised skills development for apprentices and trainees in the workplace. This structured learning must include hands-on experience in a wide range of relevant tasks.

Pilot program: A short-term trial designed to test program ideas before they’re rolled out more widely.

Pre-apprenticeship: Entry-level training that can set participants up as great candidates for future apprenticeships. Can include literacy and numeracy skills and basic industry learning.


Retrenched apprentices and trainees: Apprentices and trainees who have lost their employment and are yet to complete their training.

RTO (Registered Training Organisation):  a provider and assessor of nationally recognised vocational education and training qualifications. To deliver this training the organisation must be approved by the national regulator – the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) or if operating in Victoria may be registered with the VRQA. There are a range of RTOs including Technical and Further Education (TAFE) which are public institutions, private providers, professional or industry associations, some schools and universities as well as not-for profit community-based education providers.

SBAT (School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships): These are open to senior secondary students enrolled in VCE or VCAL. Students combine regular school attendance with at least one day a week on the job or in training.

SJC (Skills and Jobs Centre): Based in TAFEs across Victoria, SJCs help people with career advice, job searching and choosing courses – including apprenticeships and traineeships. You don’t have to be a student to visit an SJC – anyone can go along to get free help and advice.


TAFE (Technical And Further Education): A government-run training institute offering practical vocational education.

Trade Paper: Certificate awarded by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) to people who’ve successfully completed their formal training through an apprenticeship.

Traineeship: A learning pathway that combines formal study with paid employment. Traineeships mostly provide training in a vocational area, such as business administration, childcare, IT systems or retail. They cover a much wider range of occupations than apprenticeships do, and can take anywhere from 9 months to 4 years.

Training contract: a legally binding agreement signed by the employer and the apprentice or trainee (and a parent or guardian if applicable), in accordance with the ETRA and other regulatory requirements. It must be completed with the assistance of an Apprenticeship Network Provider who should provide advice and information about the employment and training arrangement. They will also lodge the contract with the VRQA for their approval and registration

Training plan: the plan for training and assessment to be delivered by the RTO. It describes what training is to be undertaken and outlines how, when and where that training will be delivered. It also includes how assessments will occur (including where the employer is asked to confirm that competency has been achieved) and when the apprentice or trainee is deemed competent. It is developed by the RTO in conjunction with the apprentice/ trainee and their employer. The Training Plan is a living document, requiring review and updating on a regular basis and should reflect the current status of the apprentice or trainee’s training.


VCE/VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Education/Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning): The VCE is the certificate of education that most Victorian students study for in Years 11 and 12. The VCAL is a senior secondary certificate of education designed for flexible entry and exit. It’s a pathway to TAFE, university, apprenticeships or traineeships or employment.

VET (Vocational Education and Training): training delivered by a TAFE or private RTO to provide students with practical skills and
knowledge in a vocational area. Apprentices and trainees undertake a VET qualification specified as an apprenticeship or traineeship in an approved training scheme.

Victorian Skills Gateway: Online portal listing Victorian TAFE and training opportunities. Use the search function to find the right course for apprenticeships or traineeships.

VRQA (Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority): Regulates education and training in Victoria. VRQA registers apprentices and trainees, approves their employers and makes sure all parties meet their obligations.

WorkSafe Victoria: Workplace health and safety regulator for Victoria.