The Australian Apprenticeships Priority List (AAPL) is used as part of the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives System to determine which employers and apprentices are eligible for financial incentives.

Employers who take on apprentices in roles listed on the AAPL may receive higher incentives than if the role isn’t on the AAPL. Apprentices in ‘clean energy’ roles on the list may also get incentives which other apprentices don’t.

As the list determines the level of incentive received, many people keenly track the occupations and qualifications that are added to the list.

2024 AAPL update

The AAPL has been updated for commencements from 1 January 2024. This updated list contains 19 new occupations, along with a number of new qualifications.

Did you know: How is the list created?

The AAPL is managed by the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. The criteria for occupations to be included on the AAPL are set in the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives System (AAIS) guidelines.

Skills shortages

Occupations on the AAPL need to be in shortage and have future demand. The Jobs and Skills Australia Skills Priority List is used for this information.

Occupations assessed as in shortage and with a future demand. AAIS Guidelines

The occupation has to be in national shortage. There are roles which have shortages in some states and territories, but not nationally. These roles are not included on the AAPL.

Future demand is also shown in the Skills Priority List, with all occupations having some level of demand. This can be above average, average, or below average demand, however in all cases there is future demand.

Trades and personal service occupations

When putting together the AAPL, the list is limited to occupations in the ANZSCO groups ‘Technicians and Trades Workers’ (group 3) and ‘Community and Personal Service Workers’ (group 4).

Classified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) as either Technician and Trade Workers (Level 3) or Community and Personal Service Workers (Level 4). AAIS Guidelines

ANZSCO is a classification of occupations that collates roles into 8 groups. Each of these groups has sub-groups and occupations listed, with up to several hundred occupations within a single group.

While ANZSCO groups contain similar occupations, there are several groups which contain roles that might typically be the domain of ‘tradies’. While this includes the group Technicians and Trades Workers, there are also Machinery Operators and Drivers (group 7) and Labourers (group 8). These groups all contain roles that can be trained through an apprenticeship pathway, and are hands on working across a range of industries.

To determine if an occupation is considered a ‘trade’ under ANZSCO, you can look at the 6-digit code given in the Skills Priority List. If it starts with 3 it is a trade and therefore meets this criteria. Anything starting with a 4 will be a community and personal services role and also meets the AAPL criteria.

The ABS also has an ANZSCO search that can be used to find out more about occupation classifications.

Qualification levels

The AAPL lists occupations along with qualifications that can be done as an apprenticeship or traineeship to gain that role. The apprentice must be in an occupation along with its matched qualification to be eligible for incentives.

Concordant qualifications at Certificate Level III, Certificate Level IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma. AAIS Guidelines

Qualifications on the AAPL are from Certificate III to Advanced Diploma level. Any occupations which does not have a qualification in the VET system and at these qualification levels is not included on the list.

If an occupation has qualifications at Certificate I or II level, or above Advanced Diploma level, these qualifications will not be listed.

The Australian Government’s Apprenticeships website has an Incentives Explorer that employers and apprentices can use to understand available incentives.

Why are some occupations left off the list?

There are a lot of occupations that meet one or two criteria to be on the AAPL, but not all three.

A common issue is whether an occupation is defined in ANZSCO as a trade or not. There are many roles in the construction, mining, manufacturing, electrical and gas services, and agriculture industries that are not trades, even though the workers in these roles would be considered ‘tradies’.

Example: Civil construction and mining

An apprentice undertaking a Certificate III in Civil Construction could have their occupation listed as ‘Earthmoving Plant Operator’ which is included in the ANZSCO group ‘Machinery Operators and Drivers’, meaning that it is not a trade. Many civil construction occupations are part of this ANZSCO group, meaning that under the current criteria for the AAPL they are not eligible.

This occupation is in shortage nationally and has average future demand. It is also apprenticeship with strong commencements across Australia. But as it is not a trade under ANZSCO, it is not on the AAPL.

An apprentice in a Certificate III in Drilling Operations would have their occupation listed as a ‘Driller’, which is also in the ANZSCO group ‘Machinery Operators and Drivers’. As with civil construction, this role is in shortage with average future demand, and has apprenticeship commencements in several states.

What can I do if my occupations aren’t listed?

Industry groups and employer often express frustration at the occupations important to their industry being left off the AAPL.

Understanding the method for occupations to be listed on the AAPL is important when having discussions around why roles have been omitted. This can help you determine the best way to communicate issues and determine how these might be changed in the future.

Jobs and Skills Australia undertakes consultation around their Skills Priority List and publishes an annual update about the list. Giving input into skills shortages and workforce demand in your industry can support understanding about local and national issues.

The suitability of criteria for occupations to be listed on the AAPL may be a discussion piece for some industry groups.

There may also be other types of incentives for employers taking on apprentices in roles not on the AAPL, which can be found using the Incentives Explorer. Even without incentives, there are many benefits for employers who take on apprentices and trainees.

The Australian Government provides non-financial support for employers and apprentices through the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, who can work with employers to understand their apprenticeship needs.