School operations

School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships

Key steps to establish an SBAT — detailed considerations

Step 1: Establishing an SBAT

If the student is not an Australian citizen or does not hold a permanent resident visa, the school should first confirm their eligibility to undertake an SBAT. Schools and employers should also be aware that Commonwealth incentives may not be available to non-citizen students. Further advice about Commonwealth incentives can be found on the Australian ApprenticeshipsExternal Link website.

When an employer offers work to a student undertaking an School Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship (SBAT), the employment conditions, hours and wages should be discussed and negotiated with the student, the parent/guardian and the school.

If the only time a student can work as part of their apprenticeship or traineeship is outside ‘normal school hours’, the student is permitted to undertake employment at these times. However, this is only acceptable in an industry that operates in the mornings or evenings, such as bakeries, horseracing stables and some hospitality providers.

In order to establish an SBAT, the employer must:

  • engage an Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to develop a training plan and deliver the structured training
  • ensure the student is trained in accordance with the approved training scheme
  • ensure training is completed by the prescribed assessment date and advised to the school
  • ensure that any host employer meets the standards for an employer established by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA)

If the employer fails to do these things, it may be a breach of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) and may place them at risk of penalties under the Act.

Timetabled employment arrangements

A student may undertake work during weekends and school holidays. The employer, the parent/guardian and the student should discuss and agree to these arrangements before signing the training contract.

The employer may enter into a training contract with a student only if approved by the VRQA to do so. The employer must notify the student, the RTO and the school if the VRQA does not approve them, imposes conditions on the employment, or cancels its approval.

It remains the employer’s legal obligation to ensure that the student:

  • is placed in a safe work and training environment
  • is given duties appropriate to their qualification
  • is supervised by a staff member who is a ‘fit and proper’ person and has the competencies the student is required to develop

Training contracts

A training contract is a legally binding document registered with the VRQA through a nominated Apprenticeship Network Provider (ANP).

The employer has 14 days from the start of employment in which to contact an ANP to initiate the signing and registration of the Training Contract with the RTO, the student, their parent/guardian, and their school.

The ANP will engage with the employer, the student and their parent/guardian to attend and assist with the signing within 14 days of the start of employment. The ANP will lodge the training contract within 10 working days as ‘part-time attending school’ and send details to the VRQA and/or ASQA for registration.

The ANP should notify the school once the training contract has been registered.

ANPs are contracted by the Australian Government as part of the Australian Apprenticeship Support NetworkExternal Link (AASN) to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ of information and support to employers, apprentices and trainees.

In Victoria, ANPs provide these services for both apprenticeships and traineeships. They facilitate the completion and signing of training contracts and assess and process the payment of Commonwealth incentives to eligible employers, apprentices and trainees.

Step 2: Sign-up and approval

Once the SBAT offer has been made, the employer works with a suitable RTO to develop a training plan. The employer and the RTO must ensure that the qualification is appropriate for an SBAT and matches the job role — including any role negotiated with a host employer.

Upon receipt of notification of a training contract, the RTO should:

  • arrange a site visit to negotiate a training plan with the employer and the student
  • conduct a pre-training interview
  • ensure that the proposed training complies with an approved training scheme for the certificate being undertaken and is appropriate to the needs and learning level of the student
  • discuss any enrolment fees with the student and their parent/guardian
  • forward the training plan to the school principal or Non-School Senior Secondary Provider CEO for final endorsement prior to the student being enrolled with the RTO
  • ensure the school-endorsed training plan is lodged with the nominated ANP within 2 months and alert the student to their start date with the RTO

The business name and place of employment should also be listed in the training plan when a host employer (for example, a Group Training Organisation) has been sourced by an employer.

Note: The employer, the RTO and the student agree to an appropriate training plan and sign it.

Schools should take time to review a training plan in detail before signing it. Working with the parent/guardian, the school should determine that the proposed out-of-school hours employment and training specified in the plan will not have a detrimental impact on the student’s overall education or senior secondary program achievement.

The school should be reasonably satisfied that:

  • the type of program and the amount and level of training proposed in the training plan is appropriate for the student and will contribute to their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)
  • the training is matched to the employment undertaken, and is within the student’s capacity to complete

Schools should only sign a training plan after speaking with the student, the employer and training provider, and being sure that it meets all necessary requirements for an SBAT arrangement.

The school and the RTO must ensure that the student is undertaking an appropriate SBAT program and has the capacity to undertake this program.

The student must undertake a minimum of 1 timetabled day of employment and/or structured training during normal school hours each week. The definition of a ‘normal school day/ or week’ is determined by the school and, for government schools, must be consistent with advice in the Department's policy – School Hours.

School endorsement of a training plan

A school representative should endorse the training plan for an SBAT only if:

  • the SBAT provides for genuine employment that is paid according to an appropriate industrial award and is matched to the training undertaken
  • the student is enrolled in a senior secondary program (VCE or VCAL)
  • the student’s study, training and work commitments form an integral part of that student’s senior secondary learning program and study timetable, and are consistent with the student’s career aspirations as outlined in their career action plan
  • it will not be detrimental to the student’s overall education

When the school signs the training plan, it undertakes to enrol the student on the Victorian Assessment Software System (VASS) so that the training specified in the plan can be credited to the student’s VCE or VCAL program.

Note: Training plans must be endorsed and submitted to the relevant AASN within 2 months of the training contract commencing.

Step 3: Implementation

Once a training plan has been agreed and signed by all parties, the student can begin their employment and structured training as part of the senior secondary program.

The school must ensure that the student is enrolled in the qualification being delivered through their apprenticeship or traineeship pathway, which has been entered appropriately on VASS.

The student should only be enrolled in Units of Competency (UOCs) that the RTO expects they will complete in the current year of delivery (with results being made available in time for end-of-year results for processing by the VCAA). Remaining UOCs will be entered on VASS the following year when they are expected to be completed.


The RTO should report on the completion of assessments to the school as soon as possible, and no later than the date determined each year by the VCAA for inclusion on the student’s senior secondary statement of results lodged through the VASS system.

Schools should confer with the employer and the RTO to establish appropriate and regular reporting mechanisms for student attendance between the school, employer and RTO. The school must monitor and report unsatisfactory attendance for other VCE or VCAL classes as part of the student’s assessment process.

Failure to identify a student at risk of non-completion and/or to report their result may affect their ability to complete their SBAT. This may impact on completion of their VCE or VCAL program, and any contribution to the student's ATAR.

Step 4: Changes to a training contract

Changes to a training contract may be required from time to time for various reasons, including:

  • cancellation of an SBAT
  • illness or injury
  • absences from work
  • changes to RTO qualifications, units or training packages

If there is any variation to a training contract, an application to vary that contract must be completed by the employer and the apprentice and submitted to an ANP. The form for making this application is available from the VRQA websiteExternal Link .

Step 5: Completion of an SBAT

The RTO is responsible for issuing the appropriate qualification to the student when their structured training has been completed, and the employer acknowledges that the student is competent ‘on the job’.

Final results for students who have completed UOCs must be provided to their school by no later than the final date advised by the VCAA each year.

At the end of an SBAT, the student may explore pathway options that lead to continued employment and/or completion of further training.

Step 6: Student support

Vocational training is a formally agreed school activity/subject and is of equal value and importance to subjects undertaken at school. A student’s failure to treat workplace and training requirements as equivalent to a ‘timetabled activity’ could affect their VCAL or VCE results.

Help for students

Although most students enjoy their training, sometimes problems can arise. For a student experiencing a problem or issue, the Department’s website provides advice on the following common concerns:

  • I am not happy with my training
  • I am being harassed or discriminated against
  • I think I am being underpaid
  • I think my workplace might be unsafe
  • I want to terminate my training contract
  • what is meant by ‘mutual consent’?

Further information can be accessed at the apprentice and trainee rights and responsibilitiesExternal Link page of the VRQA website.

Concerns relating to bullying, harassment and discrimination

All schools are required to have a policy addressing bullying and harassment that is accessible to all members of their community.

The school should ensure that the student understands their right to a safe working and training environment, is aware of how to recognise abuse or other risks to their safety, and has been provided with the skills and confidence to raise concerns, make complaints, or let someone know if they feel unsafe.

Both the school and the RTO must ensure that the student is aware that in the workplace and at any training activity or at school, they must not engage in conduct that may constitute bullying, harassment or discrimination, or may pose a risk to the health and safety of others.


The student (or their parent/guardian) must advise the school, the employer or the RTO if they are unable to attend work or training. Unexplained absences could result in a loss of wages or failure to meet the work requirements of the SBAT.

The student must undertake the training as specified in their training plan.

They are obliged to attend their workplace for all scheduled working hours and to follow all lawful and reasonable instructions from their employer. Failure to comply may constitute a breach of the terms of the training contract and affect the student’s ability to complete their qualification within the agreed schedule.

Chapter in the Guidelines for School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships outlining the process for establishing an SBAT

Reviewed 11 June 2020

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