Relationship with your boss Your expectations of what you should be doing in your apprenticeship, and how you should be treated, will not always be the same as your employer’s expectations.

When my girlfriend left me, I didn’t know what to do. I realised I was drinking too much. The Incolink guys were really great to talk to.1st Year Apprentice

Clear communication will ensure you have a good working relationship.

  • Find out how your boss wants to be contacted if you are running late or sick. You might think a text message is OK, but they might prefer a phone call
  • Come to work prepared: this means knowing which clothes, equipment or tools you need each day
  • Find out how long lunch and tea breaks are
  • Find out if it is OK to have your mobile phone on during work time. Some employers see this as a safety risk

Relating to your employer

As an apprentice, you need to build a relationship with your employer.

Ideas for doing this:

  • Be positive and show them you want to learn
  • Respect their tools and always return things you use
  • Do the best you can
  • If you are unsure about something, ask
  • Turn up to work on time

Things not to do:

  • Turn up to work late
  • Whinge when they ask you to do little jobs
  • Slack off
  • Damage equipment
  • Steal or borrow equipment without the employer’s knowledge

Disputes with your Employer

Disputes can happen, especially in the workplace when you and your boss have different expectations. They might be about what you should be doing, what you should be paid etc.

If you have a dispute with your boss, or your workmates, try to resolve it before it affects your apprenticeship

If you can’t resolve a dispute, contact your AFO for help.

Your Trade Union also employs Apprenticeship Liaison Officers who can assist with disputes. Call your union or the Victorian Trades Hall Council on (03) 9659 3511 for further details.

How to resolve a dispute

  1. Identify the issue or what is causing the issue
  2. Listen and acknowledge the other person’s point of view
  3. Talk about what you want to happen next
  4. Ask the other person what they think
  5. If you are unable to resolve the issue take the matter to your boss

Apprenticeship Support Officers (ASOs)

ASO’s give support and guidance to all apprentices, aged 15 to 24, in the first year of their apprenticeship.

They offer advise and assistance on personal and workplace issues and work with Registered Training Organisation, Australian Apprenticeship Centers and other service providers to deliver an integrated apprentice support service.

The ASO program aims to increase the rates of apprenticeship completion by providing targeted support to apprentices in the early stages of their apprenticeship. It is in these early stages that the apprentice is most at risk of cancelling the apprenticeship.

ASOs are located across regional and metropolitan Victoria and service areas are based on employer workplace location.

If you are an eligible apprentice, an ASO will contact you and provide their details. If you have not been contacted by your ASO or have lost their details, call: 0408 072 965 to speak to a Regional Manager.

Regulatory Field Services

The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRDA) is responsible for regulating apprenticeships and traineeships in Victoria. Authorised officers, engaged by the VRDA, visit workplaces to talk to apprentices, trainees and their employers to help make sure the obligations under a training contract are being met. To talk to someone regarding these kind of issues you can call 1300 722 603.



As an apprentice you will undertake training. This will be on the job with your boss, as well as with your training provider or TAFE. You will need to be released from the workplace to attend formal training at your training provider or TAFE. You are responsible for attending the training provided as this forms part of your apprenticeship. Any time spent at a training provider or TAFE is calculated as a normal working day, so you should be paid during this time.

Within the first few months of commencing your apprenticeship you should agree to a training plan with your boss, and your training provider or TAFE.

The training plan will be a working document, and you and your trainers will amend this as you complete learning tasks or assessments.

While you are at work your boss should be training and supervising you. This does not mean you will always be doing things that you think are interesting. You could be asked to clean up or unload materials as this is part of the job. If you think this is all you are doing, you should talk to your boss and ask for more challenging work.

If you are not sure how to do something, ask your boss to show you. If you do not ask it could result in a safety risk, and it is better to speak up than risk hurting yourself, or someone else.

My boss wasn’t letting me leave to go to TAFE. I talked to the guys at Incolink who helped me sort things out with my boss. 1st Year Plumber

Tips for Learning at Work

  • Check what others do – watch others in the workplace, and ask them for help
  • Make a list of new terms you are learning
  • If English is not your first language, explain that you are not used to listening to English spoken so quickly – there are many new words to learn
  • Make a list of what you want explained – ask for a bit of extra time to go over the meaning of unfamiliar words. Ask your trainer as well


Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

What to do if you are being bullied

  • Become familiar with your workplace’s bullying policy
  • Talk to someone about your bullying experience
  • Encourage others to report bullying and use the appropriate channels
  • Look out for mates at work

Remember: Bullying or harassment is wrong, often illegal, and you do not have to put up with it. The best thing you can do is talk to someone about it.

These people can help:


Harassment is any form of behaviour that is unwelcome, usually repeated and personally offensive to the recipient.

As an apprentice you could be the target of workplace bullying. Research has found that, unfortunately, approximately one third of all apprentices in the building and construction industry experience bullying. This could include intimidation, abuse (verbal, physical and mental), harassment, damage to a person’s personal property, teasing and name-calling.

Being bullied can have a significant effect on health and wellbeing. For example, the stress it creates means that it can be difficult to concentrate and may affect workplace safety. Most importantly, bullying is not OK - it is unacceptable behaviour, and may have legal ramifications.

Many apprentices do not report bullying for fear that it will continue, become worse, or cause them to lose their job. While it can be difficult to report, bullying will often continue unless it is reported.