Apprentices and trainees

Employees can learn on the job in many ways, from serving apprenticeships to coaching and observing others, also known as buddying. The best approach depends on the person, their job and their career path.

Almost every job involves learning while on the job. Employees might:

  • start work with knowledge but may need to learn how to apply it
  • start an apprenticeship and learn everything on the job
  • come into a job and need to learn the processes and systems of the organisation.

All employees need to keep learning while at work, to grow their skills, and to adapt to a changing environment. To keep employees working ‘at the top of their game’ employers need to work with them to make sure that they get the training, development and support they need. There are a variety of ways that employees might learn on the job. The employer can support this, or employees can directly access the information.


An apprenticeship is a way to learn a trade and to earn at the same time. In most cases, this involves on-the-job training and block-course training. The training is usually designed by the industry, for the industry. Examples of trades where apprenticeships are common are plumbing, panel beating, hairdressing and building.

New Zealand Apprenticeships – Tertiary Education Commission(external link)


Training refers to the process of developing the skills required for a certain job. It is formal learning targeting specific activities, for example, understanding a process or how to operate a certain machine or system.

What managers can do:

  • outline, preferably in writing, any on-the-job training that the employee can expect to receive and is expected to participate in
  • explore the training opportunities available, both job-specific and general – for example, courses to enhance communication skills can improve an employee’s confidence as well as customer and employee relationship skills
  • speak to the relevant Industry Training Organisation to get ideas about job-specific training opportunities for you and your employees
  • be patient and allow the employee time – training may take more than 1 session depending on the employee’s skill or previous experience. Get them to demonstrate or repeat back to you what they have learnt to make sure they have the right idea
  • plan follow-up checks to ensure employees have not picked up incorrect habits when performing tasks
  • keep records of any training your employee has received. This will help you to keep track of who has attended the training and who has not
  • if a new employee says they have already been trained on a task, ask them to see their certificates or get them to ‘show’ you that they can do it to double-check and supervise them until you’re sure they’ve been trained properly.

Industry training

Industry training covers the traditional trades and apprenticeships, and occupations across a range of sectors. These include the primary industries, manufacturing, infrastructure, construction, services, retail, government, and community services.

Industry Training Organisations

Industry Training Organisations(external link)

Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are established by each industry to set national skill standards, lead the development of qualifications, and play a central role in industry-related vocational education and training.

ITOs arrange workplace training within their different sectors and work with tertiary education providers to develop and deliver the skills that benefit trainees, employers and the New Zealand economy. They are also responsible for:

  • providing information and advice to trainees and their employers
  • arranging for the delivery of on and off-job training (including developing training packages for employers)
  • arranging for the assessment of trainees, and
  • arranging the monitoring of quality training.

Accredited Industry Training Organisations – New Zealand Qualifications Authority(external link)

Training while at secondary school

Vocational education and training can be offered through senior secondary education, tertiary education courses and ongoing professional development in the workforce. Every year more than 200,000 school students achieve industry skills standards and qualifications.

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