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Training classifications

The Australian Public Service (APS) is committed to developing a quality, skilled workforce. Entry-level training opportunities that combine work with structured on and off-the-job training is an effective way for an agency to 'grow its own' skill base.

The APS classification structure includes training classifications so agencies can manage the entry-level training of their employees in a structured way.

Benefits of using training classifications

In using training classifications, agencies have the flexibility to design training programs that meet their skilling needs.  Employees can be trained in specialised areas where there is an identified labour market shortage of necessary skills and experience. Employees are also offered a readily
identifiable career path.

Other benefits of using the training classifications include:

  • an effective way to train and induct new employees
  • improving the productivity of new employees and accelerate their contribution
  • increasing workforce diversity .

Training classifications and the APS classification system

The APS training classifications sit alongside the approved classification levels, and are contained in Schedule 2 of the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 (the Classification Rules). The approved training classifications are

  • Apprentice APS (Trades)
  • Cadet APS
  • Cadet APS (Research Scientist)
  • Graduate APS
  • Trainee APS (Administrative) and
  • Trainee APS (Technical).

Schedule 2 of the Classification Rules also contains a limited number of approved agency-specific training classifications relating to work specific to only one agency (e.g Valuer-in-Training and Customs training classifications).

The duties allocated to a training classification must include a requirement to undergo training (Classification Rules, rule 9(3)). Additionally, clause 2.9(4) of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013 (the Directions) specifies that vacancies for a training classification must be notified as open to all eligible members of the community.

Designing the training requirements for a training classification is the responsibility of each agency.  Factors to consider when determining training requirements include:

  • the nature of the training duties that are assigned
  • whether the training is part of a prescribed scheme or training package
  • whether the training is covered by a training agreement with a registered training provider
  • any relevant provisions in the agency's enterprise agreement.

The Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) does not impose any requirements regarding the length of training to be undertaken.

On satisfactory completion of the agency's training requirements, an ongoing employee is allocated an operational classification listed in column 3 in Schedule 2 of the Classification Rules relating to the training classification. In practice this means that once the relevant training program is successfully
completed, the employee is allocated a specific classification in the approved classification structure (APS Levels 1-6). This is the culmination of the learning and development that has taken place over the course of the training program.

The Directions state that the allocation of an operational classification in this circumstance is not considered to be a promotion (clause 2.2(1)(b)).

Different training classifications for different needs

Training programs that use the training classifications can combine structured training with duties that are full-time, part-time or education-based. The training programs lead to a recognised qualification and are available to anyone of working age, including young people who are new or recent entrants
to the workforce, people re-entering the workforce or changing careers, and existing employees.

The different types of training classifications include:

Apprentice APS

Apprentices learn a trade from a skilled employer. Apprenticeships consist of both on-the-job training provided by their employing agency as well as related classroom instruction.

Upon successful completion of the required training, Apprentice APS employees are allocated the APS Level 2 operational classification. Progression beyond the APS Level 2 will be in accordance with merit and/or other arrangements (such as broadbanding), as provided in the individual agency's enterprise

Cadet APS

Cadets are employed to complete an appropriate tertiary-level course leading to a degree required by the agency. Cadetships consist of time spent undertaking both academic study as well as working in the relevant agency during study breaks, and any other period/s required to complete the specified
course of academic study.

Upon successful completion of their course of study, Cadet APS employees are allocated the APS Level 3 operational classification, with the exception of Cadet APS Research Scientists who are allocated the APS Level 6 operational classification.

Progression beyond these operational classifications is in accordance with merit and/or other arrangements (such as broadbanding) as provided in the individual agency's enterprise agreement.

Graduate APS

Graduates have already successfully completed a tertiary qualification or comparable course of training. On being employed, graduates generally undertake a program of on-the-job training through work placements within their agency, with some structured learning and development opportunities.

Upon successful completion of the agency's training program, Graduate APS employees are allocated the APS Level 3 operational classification. Agencies proposing to progress a Graduate APS beyond the APS Level 3 need to do so in accordance with merit and/or other arrangements (such as broadbanding)
as provided in the individual agency's enterprise agreement.

Trainee APS

Trainees undertake a course of training, generally for Certificate level qualification, at a technical or other further education institution, as well as participating in the agency's training program that provides on-the-job training and experience.

Upon successful completion of the required training, Trainee APS (Administrative) employees are allocated the APS Level 1 operational classification, with Trainee APS (Technical) employees allocated an APS Level 3 operational classification. Progression beyond these operational classifications is in
accordance with merit and/or other arrangements (such as broadbanding) as provided in the individual agency's enterprise agreement.

Establishing and managing training classifications

Agencies are encouraged to take responsibility for developing people management strategies aligned to their agency goals and a strategic approach to recruitment as part of their workforce planning. This includes considering the benefits of using training classifications to grow skills within the agency.

Remuneration - training classifications in enterprise agreements

Agencies intending to use training classifications must ensure remuneration for these classifications is specified in their agency's enterprise agreement. It is recommended that agencies specify remuneration levels for each of the training classifications specified in the Classification Rules, even
if all training classifications are not routinely used. This allows the option of employing people to participate in whole-of-government training programs which would otherwise be missed if the agency had not included the particular training classification in their enterprise agreement.

When developing their remuneration strategy, agencies should ensure that the salary ranges for operational classifications are sufficiently broad to provide appropriate pay points on advancement from training classifications.

An option to attract suitable candidates to training programs is to consider an individual flexibility arrangement (IFAs) in conjunction with the appropriate training classification. IFAs allow for variation to an agency's enterprise agreement in order to meet the genuine needs of the agency and individual
employees, while ensuring that minimum term and conditions are not undermined.


Training classifications cannot be broadbanded. However, agencies have flexibility to include an operational classification in a broadband with a higher level classification. In keeping with broadbanding principles, access to the higher classification needs to be based on the availability of duties
at the higher work value, and that the employee is skilled to undertake the higher level work.

The option to access a higher classification in a broadband needs to be included in the design of the training program. This is to ensure the training is structured around skilling employees to undertake duties at the higher work value on completion of the program as well as meeting any other advancement
requirements specified for the broadband. In addition, any broadband arrangement that includes an operational classification on completion of training needs to be specified in the agency's enterprise agreement.

Unsuccessful completion of training requirements

An employee's employment in a training classification may be terminated in writing at any time for failure to satisfactorily complete an entry-level training course (section 29(3)(e) of the PS Act).

The performance of employees in a training classification needs to be managing carefully to ensure they are provided with appropriate opportunities to successfully complete the training requirements.

Employment in a training classification on a non-ongoing basis

While employment in a training classification is usually on an ongoing basis, non-ongoing employment is also possible. In keeping with the Public Service Regulations 1999, an employee can be employed on a non-ongoing basis for the duration of a specified term or for a specified task to undertake a training scheme for the purpose of gaining:

  • skills and experience - regulation 3.5(3)(c)(i)
  • a formal occupational qualification, licence, accreditation or registration - regulation 3.5(3)(c)(ii).

Non-ongoing employment does not result in ongoing employment upon successful completion of training.

Use of local titles

Local titles can be given to a training role in conjunction with the approved APS training classification. Using a local title in job advertisements can assist in attracting a more appropriate field of applicants to training opportunities. An agency using local titles must ensure that the equivalent
APS training classification level appears next to the local title in all advertising material and in the agency's enterprise agreement.

Training programs not covered by training classifications

Agencies may also offer training programs which provide entry-level employment opportunities coupled with on-the-job experience but without a requirement for formal qualifications on entry or in the course of training. Such programs should not be established using a training classification. For example,
a 'school leavers' program which uses the approved classifications in Schedule 1 of the Classification Rules.

Better Practice Case Study - ABS

Australian Bureau of Statistics Cadet APS Training Classification

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Enterprise Agreement 2011-14 provides an option for employees to be employed in a Cadet APS training classification. The cadetship program has been very effective in attracting high quality applicants in the fields of mathematics, statistics and/or econometrics. A
limited number of cadetships are generally offered each year to students who are in their final year of a Bachelor's degree and intend to undertake Honours (an additional year of study).

While studying, cadets have access to one of the largest workforce groups of mathematical statisticians and economic analysts within Australia, are paid at the Cadet APS (full time study) salary applicable to their age (as specified in the ABS Enterprise Agreement). Cadets also receive a cadet book
allowance and all compulsory student and course fees are met by the ABS. Prior to commencing their Honours study, cadets undertake a four week work experience placement. While undertaking the work experience placement, cadets are paid at the Cadet APS (Practical Training) salary applicable to their age.
If cadets are required to travel interstate to undertake this work experience placement, the ABS generally provides for interstate travel and accommodation expenses.

Schedule 2 of the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 enables the ABS to employ applicants at the Cadet APS classification and, upon successful completion of their Honours study, for cadets to be allocated an APS Level 3 operational classification.
Overall the ABS has had great success in training the next generation of mathematical statisticians and econometricians through the program.

Better Practice Case Study - BoM

Australian Bureau of Meteorology Trainee APS (Technical)

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) through forecasts, warnings, monitoring and advice spanning Australia and the Antarctic Territory, provides a fundamental and one of the most widely-used government services.

Comprehensive services are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are underpinned by extensive observation, communication and computer systems operated by BoM as well as international co-operative satellite and communication systems. These systems are highly specialised and cover an array of pneumatic,
analogue, digital, microprocessor and mechanical based equipment.

The technical expertise to install, operate, monitor, maintain and repair these highly specialised systems is not widely available in the Australian labour market. To meet its needs, BoM has developed in-house initial technical training programs to acquire, advance and sustain the right combinations
of knowledge, skills and attributes within the APS workforce.

A prerequisite for entry in the initial technical training programs is a Diploma in a relevant field of study. The BoM programs offer a combination of:

  • formal theoretical and practical training, simulations and assessments delivered by technical training specialists based at BoM's training centre, and
  • experiential training and assessments in the field delivered through coaching and supervision by qualified Technical employees in BoM's national network of offices, maintenance centres and meteorological sites around Australia and its territories (including Antarctica).

The work undertaken during the initial technical training programs has been evaluated under the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 at the Trainee APS (Technical) classification, as it primarily involves a requirement to undergo training.

The BoM has built a talent pipeline around the Trainee APS (Technical) classification and it is promoted as the entry point to an attractive and rewarding career for people with technical aptitude and an interest in environmental information systems. The requirement to undergo training is integral
to its attraction strategy and the way that employees are valued by providing 'the opportunity to grow, to learn, to innovate, to succeed and to build a stimulating and rewarding career'. Upon successful completion of all training requirements, the Trainee APS (Technical) employee is allocated to an APS Level 3 operational classification (local title of Technical Officer
Level 2).

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018