What is the supervisor’s role?

As a supervisor you will act as a role model and coach as the learner will look to you for guidance and assistance in doing their job. You will need to organize and record training activities undertaken in the workplace, and also provide assessment evidence to the RTO.

You will also assist the learner in gaining access to equipment and training as needed or shown in the Training Plan.

What makes an  effective workplace supervisor?

  • Provides a safe and supportive workplace
  • Integrates learning tasks into work activities based on the Training Plan
  • Manages risk in safety and production while training
  • Acts as a role model
  • Meets with the RTO on a regular basis to ensure effective training delivery and assessment practices and to review progress through the Training Plan
  • Manages the apprentice or trainee’s training needs and motivation
  • Helps the apprentice or trainee develop problem solving skills and general employability skills
  • Provides feedback and encouragement
  • Promotes independence and self direction in learning
  • Maintains records of progress

What are the benefits of being a workplace supervisor?

While supervising a leaner you will:

  • Pass on your knowledge and skills
  • Develop the trainee’s or apprentice’s skills
  • Guide the trainee’s or apprentice’s development as a mentor and coach
  • Your communication skills will improve as you explain work and answer questions
  • Staff development by allowing them to complete tasks
  • Assist the apprentice or trainee in building work relationships, and to understand how the business operates

What does a workplace supervisor do?

With all on-the-job type traineeships the workplace supervisor will deliver structured training in conjunction with and assistance by a RTO. In traditional apprenticeships, the structured training is held in a classroom and the workplace supervisor will coach the apprentice in relating the training taught in the classroom to the workplace.

Is it my concern what the learner does outside working hours?

It is often advisable to guide the learner with constructive advice and guidance on how they spend their leisure time eg get an early night to ensure they are clear headed and energetic for work; responsible road behaviour – especially for young male learners.

What does being a workplace coach mean?

Coaching includes all the efforts you make to motivate others, teach them about the work, develop their skills, provide them with feedback and recognize their achievements.

The following are a few tips in coaching effectively:

  • Acknowledge what the apprentice or trainee already knows
  • Explain the big picture by providing examples where necessary
  • Explain what the trainee or apprentice will achieve
  • Provide the trainee or apprentice with their choice of learning – eg written instructions or be shown
  • Give the learner the opportunity to practice the skills being taught
  • Encourage initiative and innovative thought by listening to the learner’s ideas and providing feedback
  • Communicate with the apprentice or trainee and think about:

- How and how often you are going to communicate with them
- Whether your instructions are clear and simple and are not more complex than necessary
- How you are going to ensure a two-way communication flow

  • Are your expectations realistic?
  • Ensure you have a supportive learning environment and immediately act on any bullying or harassment.

What are workplace competencies?

An apprenticeship or traineeship is made up of training and assessments to develop sets of skills and knowledge relevant to the workplace, and the level of performance required to do them satisfactorily at work, known as competencies. These training and assessments outcomes are achieved through assessments and assignments and the completion of actual work in the workplace.

The learner must successfully complete all of the units of competency that make up the National Qualification to complete and apprenticeship or traineeship. Once the RTO has issued the National Qualification, application can be submitted for early completion of the traineeship or apprenticeship.

What is assessment?

Assessment means collecting evidence about the apprentice or trainee’s skills and knowledge, comparing the evidence to a set of industry-based standards and judging whether, on the basis of the evidence gathered, the learner meets those standards.

The RTO assessor will carry out the assessment. This will mean determining whether the learner is ‘competent’ or not yet ‘competent’. As a workplace supervisor it is not your responsibility to decide if the learner is competent or not, but to provide evidence of how they have applied their skills in the workplace and your opinion about their ability to do the job.

What records does the supervisor keep?

The following table gives an indication of the records you are required to keep:

Records which must be kept Workplace supervisor’s role
Approval letter from State Training Services stating that the Apprenticeship / Traineeship Training Contract has been approved. None – the employer should keep this.
Copy of the Apprenticeship / Traineeship Training Contract None – the employer should keep this.
Copy of the Full Training Plan. You need this to monitor the apprentice’s or trainee’s skilled development.
Record of the time the Registered Training Organisation spends with you and the learner at the workplace and what activities were undertaken. This will demonstrate to you the type and level of training the Registered Training Organisation is providing to the apprentice or trainee.
Records of time worked and wages paid These records must be kept by the employer. You may possibly keep a record of time worked for learning purposes.
Results of any on-the-job training undertaken by the apprentice or trainee with the Registered Training Organisation. You may need to provide information for this, and it would help to keep a copy for your information.
Trainee / Apprentice’s workbook / record of training supplied by RTO. Discuss progress regularly with apprentice / trainee and RTO. Sign off on-the-job experience and competence as agreed with RTO.
Copy of the industrial award or workplace agreement the learner is employed under. Discuss progress regularly with apprentice / trainee and RTO. Sign off on-the-job experience and competence as agreed with RTO.

What if I have a problem?

As the workplace supervisor of an apprentice or trainee, you will have access to an Apprentice Support Manager to assist you with any issues relating to the general workplace. The Training Plan, which is the essential guide to the what, where and when of training and assessment and will guide you through the training process, however, any issues please contact your Apprentice Support Manager.


Supervision practical tips

People learn best when actively involved in their learning, so when teaching your apprentice or trainee a new task make sure they know why they are doing things, why these things are important, and how and when they will be assessed on it.

Clear communications

Take time to think about the instructions you give. Write down your instructions or break the job into steps if necessary. To give clear instructions you should:

  • Assume no prior knowledge
  • Explain why the job is done this way
  • Use clear and simple language
  • Include safe work practices in your instructions
  • Ask the apprentice or trainee to restate the instructions back to you to check their understanding
  • Make sure there are no distractions


Take time to show your apprentice or trainee how to do things the correct way. You may find it helps to break the task down into manageable pieces. Observation is a quick and very effective way to learn, it allows you to:

  • Show the learner correct procedures and sequences
  • Explain why the task is done that way
  • Use correct work practices

Practice makes perfect

Allow time for the apprentice or trainee to practice new skills. Everyone makes mistakes, so expect mistakes. Point the apprentice or learner in the right direction. Watch and coach and:

  • Be patient
  • Ask questions to encourage the apprentice or trainee to think about the task eg “That’s right Sarah, now what should you do next?” or “If the nut is seized on the bolt, how could you loosen it?”
  • Give praise when it is due
  • Suggest ways to improve eg “You’ve mastered the register Jason, now I want you to concentrate on customer service.”

Ask Questions

  • Check for understanding eg “What are the four steps in checking the order form?”
  • Involve the apprentice or trainee in decision making eg “Should we set the guide rails now?”
  • Obtain information and feedback eg “How is your training in power tools going, is there anything you don’t understand?”