Changes under the South Australian Skills Act (SAS Act) introduce new, simpler processes and clear responsibilities for employers of apprentices and trainees. These FAQs explain what this means for you.
I’m an employer of apprentices and trainees, who signed training contracts before 1 July 2021. Do these changes impact me?
Yes, but only in certain circumstances and transitional arrangements may apply.
In late June 2021, the Department for Innovation and Skills (DIS) wrote all employers of apprentices and trainees, outlining any action you may need to take, to ensure you are supported to meet new requirements.
If you have any questions, or if you did not receive this correspondence by 1 July 2021, please contact the Skills Infoline on 1800 673 097.
I’m an employer who plans to take-on new apprentices or trainees soon. What do I need to know?
We’re introducing new, simpler processes for employers who sign a training contract after 1 July 2021.
Major changes include:
- a streamlined employer registration process
- new supervision requirements that reflect the variation in risks associated with different trades or vocations
- the power, for the Commission to declare an employer ‘prohibited’ from employing trainees or apprentices
- a new process related to the submission of training contract applications (meaning they no longer need to be submitted with a training plan)
- a transfer fee for employers, when a trainee or apprentice transfers to a new employer
- the probationary period for a contract can be extended, in exceptional circumstances
- broader scope for the Commission to recognise other training, including higher education
- greater powers for the Commission to require parties to training contracts to under-go dispute resolution.
How has the employer registration process been made easier?
One of the ways we are making the skills system easier to navigate is by streamlining the employer registration process.
You apply using an online form and sign a declaration indicating you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding:
- wages and entitlements
- releasing an employee for training
- probationary periods and
- record keeping
- prohibited employers.
Apprenticeship Network Providers can assist in explaining these responsibilities as can DIS, contactable via the Skills Infoline on 1800 673 097.
You will be approved if you satisfy the requirements set out in the Regulations and Standards, and are not ‘prohibited’ from employing apprentices or trainees.
Who is responsible for the training plan?
Under the new Standards, training organisations (referred to as ‘Nominated Training Organisations’), are responsible for preparing the training plan. However, they must ensure employers and apprentices contribute to its development.
While the training plan is not required to be submitted with a training contract application, the training organisation must notify DIS – Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services of its completion within 28 days and ensure that you, as the employer, and your apprentice have a final copy of the plan.
This process is outlined in the fact sheet about training plans and nominated training organisations.
How have supervision requirements changed to reflect industry feedback?
The Skills Commission undertook a thorough industry engagement process on the changes to the supervision guidelines.
The new requirements provide flexibility, within a determined ratio, to identify the level of supervision required, based on the skills and experience of the apprentice or trainee.
Each apprenticeship and traineeship has been assessed as either high, medium or low risk for supervision.
These changes may increase or decrease supervision ratios, depending on the trade or vocation.
For more information see the new Supervision standard, which replaces what you knew as ‘supervision guidelines’ (pre 1 July 2021).
How do I find out what the new supervision requirements are for my trade or vocation?
Supervision ratios are published in the Traineeship and Apprenticeship Pathways (TAP) Schedule (from 1 July).
What if I already exceed the supervision ratio for my trade or vocation?
If you exceed the ratio, based on the new requirements, you may continue to employ your current trainees or apprentices, under transitional arrangements. The Department for Innovation and Skills is writing to all employers to which this applies.
Does the Supervision Standard cover indirect supervision?
Yes, the new standard introduces clear guidance on when indirect supervision can be provided – based on capability assessments.
What’s the intention behind the transfer fee?
Its purpose is to compensate employers for time they invested in the apprentice or trainee, whose training contract is transferred to another employer.
When does an employer need to pay a ‘transfer fee’?
In the event that your apprentice or trainee wishes to transfer to another employer, part-way through their training contract, a transfer fee may apply.
Which employer pays the transfer fee?
The fee applies to employers who take-on an apprentice or trainee, who is part-way through their training contract. The fee is paid by the new employer to the original employer. Apprentices or trainees are not responsible for payment of the transfer fee.
How much is the transfer fee?
The transfer fee is based on the number of years served by the apprentice or trainee who is transferring and the size of the business they are transferring to (with lower fees applying to small businesses).
The fees are outlined in the Standard (coming soon) but range from $1600 to $8000 depending on these factors.
What should I do if I think I may be entitled to receive a ‘transfer fee’?
Contract DIS –Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services Skills Infoline on 1800 673 097 for advice, if your apprentice or trainee indicates they wish to transfer to another employer.
The transfer fee is transacted between the two employers. More detail is contained in this fact sheet.
Can the transfer fee be waived?
Employers can agree to waive the transfer fee or the new employer can apply to have the fee waived in certain circumstances. You can find details of how to apply for a waiver and how these applications will be considered in the Standard.
When should I seek support to resolve disputes?
In the first instance, employers and apprentices and trainees should attempt to resolve issues directly with one another. If you are unable to resolve a disagreement about obligations outlined in your apprentice or trainee’s training contract, we encourage you to seek support as soon as possible.
Engaging support early is key to resolving issues and maintaining a positive employment and training relationship. The South Australian Skills Commission is your contact for complaint handling, mediation, advocacy and dispute resolution on 1800 006 488.
The DIS Skills Infoline 1800 673 097 provides advice about obligations and responsibilities outlined in training contracts.
Who would direct me to participate in dispute resolution?
The South Australian Skills Commission (or DIS – Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services) may require you to participate in dispute resolution
Why does the Commission have this power?
The Commission has been afforded this power, so that more disputes can be resolved to enable the parties to continue working together and prevent the relationship breaking down. The intention is to support all parties to a training contract to resolve the dispute, so the apprentice or trainee can complete their apprenticeship or traineeship.
When would the Commission require me to participate in dispute resolution?
You may be required to participate in dispute resolution when:
- you cannot reach an agreement about an application to vary the training contract, or
- there are concerns about a training contract that have been identified through regular compliance monitoring.
The Commission will advise you if dispute resolution is required.
Why are employers declared ‘prohibited’?
One of the ways we are protecting the integrity of the skills system is by protecting future apprentices and trainees from unscrupulous employers.
When will the Commission declare an employer ‘prohibited’?
The Commission’s power to declare an employer ‘prohibited’, meaning they are not allowed to employ apprentices or trainees even through a hosting arrangement, will apply when there’s evidence they have repeatedly not met obligations outlined in training contracts. This power may also apply if an employer has committed an indictable offence.
A policy will outline the threshold for declaring an employer ‘prohibited’ and further information is contained in this fact sheet.
Will the list of prohibited employers be publicly available?
Yes, prohibited employers will be listed in the South Australian Skills Register, available on the SA Skills Commission website.
As the power to declare employers ‘prohibited’ only came into effect on 1 July 2021, there are not currently any prohibited employers.
How can an employer be removed from the ‘prohibited employers’ list?
An employer can apply to DIS to be removed from the list, but will have to prove there has been a change to their approach to warrant revoking the prohibition.
This process is outlined in the Standard.
Can I vary a probationary period for an apprentice or trainee?
You can now apply to vary the nominal probationary period to a maximum of six months (and no longer than 25% of the training contract). You can apply to do so, in extenuating circumstances, and with the agreement of your trainee or apprentice, by applying to DIS – Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services.
Can apprentices or trainees include higher education as part of an apprenticeship or traineeship?
We’re opening the door for future apprentices and trainees to have a broader range of options (including higher education) incorporated within apprenticeships and traineeships.
Over the next 12 months, we’ll be establishing processes to assess this broader range of trade and vocational skills.
We’ll work also with industry to determine what training may be suitable to complete through a traineeship or apprenticeship arrangement. Priorities will be determined based on industry engagement, about specific needs. We welcome suggestions being directed to the South Australian Skills Commission.