Coaching and supervising apprentices or trainees
Workplace supervisors play a vital role in coaching apprentices or trainees. They provide workplace training and ensure workplace safety. Here's how to meet your training obligations and get the best out of staff.
Choosing a supervisor
As an employer, you need to appoint a supervisor to support and guide apprentices and trainees in daily work. Recent studies show an effective supervisor can result in learners staying with their training and lead to more productive workplaces.
According to Training Services NSW the supervisors of apprentices or trainees must have appropriate qualifications or experience.
The supervisor of an apprentice must:
- Be trade qualified in the vocation of the apprenticeship, meaning they
- have a Certificate of Proficiency for that vocation, or
- have qualifications and experience that entitle them to a Certificate of Proficiency for that vocation.
- Also hold a supervisor licence if the apprenticeship is in a regulated trade.
The supervisor of a trainee must:
- Be qualified and experienced (at the same or higher level) in the vocation of the traineeship.
Level of supervision
Choose a supervisor who is committed to providing the right level of supervision for an apprentice or trainee. This means someone committed to:
- Ensuring the health, safety and welfare of the apprentice or trainee
- Providing meaningful on-the-job training, particularly when undertaking complex and high-risk activities/vocations
- Monitoring the apprentice or trainee's progress, providing feedback, and answering any questions they may have
See Review your legal obligations (below) for more about what's required for supervisors.
Your role as a supervisor
As a supervisor of an apprentice or trainee you need to:
- act as mentor and be a role model
- be familiar with the Training Plan and how each unit relates to workplace tasks
- give clear and consistent instructions on work tasks
- guide and support
- monitor and keep records of progress
- provide feedback and encouragement
- liaise with the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and other relevant parties
- release your apprentice or trainee during work hours with pay to attend formal training and assessment.
Read through this page to find out more about what’s required.
Follow these steps
In helping to coach and train your apprentice or trainee:
- Explain the task, its purpose and why it's done
- Explain all the steps in completing the task
- Demonstrate the task and explain how it will be assessed and recorded
- Provide sufficient opportunity to practice
- Provide encouragement, feedback and assistance to the RTO for assessment if required
- Advise the apprentice or trainee of their progress towards achieving the training outcomes.
Watch our valuable video series Supervising your apprentice or trainee.
Attend a free How to supervise your apprentice or trainee workshop
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Your Registered Training Organisation may provide information and guidance for your supervisors and team leaders. Or contact Training Services NSW.
Give an induction
Giving a good induction to your apprentice or trainee helps build good workplace relationships. It also gives them a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. A good induction includes:
- an overview of the business
- the role of the apprentice/trainee in the organisation
- expectations of all parties
- occupational health and safety issues relevant to the worksite
- the proposed training plan
- the responsibilities and obligations under the training contract
- administrative procedures
- basic work rules, work conditions and provisions under the award or industrial instrument
- an introduction to key personnel
- who to go to if there is a problem.
Gather evidence for assessment
A key role you have as a supervisor is to gather evidence on the apprentice or trainee’s ability to do the job. You won’t need to formally assess an apprentice or trainee. That’s the job of the Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
But you do need to collect and provide evidence on the apprentice's or trainee’s skills and knowledge as instructed by the RTO. See Training Plan for details.
The RTO will then assess the apprentice or trainee. They compare the evidence you provide to a set of industry-based standards as part of the assessment process.
Reassess the apprentice or trainee on a regular basis. Take into account the stage the apprenticeship/traineeship is at. Also consider the experience and training they’ve received in a particular task.
Keep essential records
As the workplace supervisor keep track of these documents:
- records of on-the-job experience and workplace competence, as agreed with RTO
- results of any on-the-job training undertaken with the RTO
- copy of the full Training Plan prepared and regularly updated by the RTO
- copy of the training contract and letter from Training Services NSW approving it
- records of time worked and wages paid
- copy of the industrial award or agreement under which the learner is employed.
Laise regularly with the RTO and if required keep:
- a competency record book for trainees and some apprentices
- an attendance card which your Registered Training Organisation (RTO) may provide to confirm regular attendance at formal training.
Review your legal obligations
Always check with your ANP if you’re unsure about legal requirements for supervisors in your trade or industry. Minimum requirements may be set by:
- industrial awards or agreements
- Safework NSW
- industry-specific regulations or licensing arrangements.
Documents covering an employer’s legal responsibilities for supervising apprentices and trainees in the workplace include:
- The Training Contract clearly shows an employer must provide appropriate facilities and experienced people to train and supervise apprentice or trainees at work.
- Duty of Care covers some workplace health and safety requirements
- Vocational Training Orders show what training is required to achieve competencies outlined in training packages or programs.
- Section 13 of the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001 obliges the employer to ensure an apprentice or trainee is given appropriate on-the-job training and supervision to gain the vocation’s skills and to work in a safe manner.
Section 39 of the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, established under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, provides that employers must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate in regard to the nature of the work and the risks associated with the work.