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Many awards contain provisions setting out conditions of employment for apprentices.

These awards say that an adult apprentice is someone that starts their apprenticeship when they’re 21 years or older.

Adult apprentices usually get higher pay rates than junior apprentices.

Turning 21 during an apprenticeship

If an apprentice turns 21 during their apprenticeship, they don’t get paid as an adult apprentice when they turn 21.


Billie was 19 years old at the time she signed the training contract for her building and construction apprenticeship under the Building Award.

The apprenticeship takes four years to complete. During the third year of the apprenticeship Billie turned 21 years old.

Because Billie started the apprenticeship when she was under 21 years old she doesn’t become an adult apprentice when she turns 21.

Changes impacting apprenticeships

Sometimes changes affecting an apprentice or the business employing them will impact the apprenticeship, for example:

  • the apprentice takes a break from the apprenticeship
  • the sale of a business employing an apprentice
  • an ongoing apprentice changes to another type of apprenticeship
  • an ongoing apprenticeship is found to be invalid.

Changes to an apprenticeship can have complex effects and what happens will depend on the circumstances of the apprentice and the employer.

Apprentices with questions about their award entitlements and apprenticeship should contact us or seek independent advice.

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