User Choice – a national initiative

Share This Post

From a recent round of national workshops on Applying for Funding and Grants a knowledge gap on information for User Choice funding and policies was identified.  Thanks to for compiling this information including funding arrangements for all states and territories.

User Choice is a national policy to make Vocational Education and Training (VET) more responsive to the needs of industry and employers.

User Choice policy works in conjunction with the Australian Apprenticeships – system enabling employers and apprentices/trainees to:

  • choose an RTO to best provide them with training services; and
  • negotiate key aspects of training, such as where, how, and when it is provided.

User choice funding subsidises the cost of an apprenticeship in identified skills shortage areas for the employer.

How User Choice operates

User Choice is applied differently in each state and territory, according to regional and industry training needs. However, in most states, arrangements are changing.

Generally, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) compete for User Choice funding, either through direct funding applications or an electronic tender or bidding process.

State and territory training authorities (STAs) decide which Australian Apprenticeships are eligible for User Choice funding. The level of funding and how and when funds are allocated vary according to:

  • state or territory strategic initiatives; and
  • the changing demand for training

Applying for funding

RTOs can only tender for funding for training they are registered to deliver.  When applying for User Choice funding, RTOs will be asked to provide the following information:

  • scope of registration – the vocations and related qualifications to be offered
  • state and national codes for all qualifications · the proposed numbers of students for off and on-the-job
  • the proposed number of off-the-job hours to be delivered during the application year.

An RTO can apply for User Choice funds in a state or territory other than the one they are registered in if they delivering training in that state or territory. They can only apply for funding for training they are registered to deliver.

Enterprise RTOs

In some states and territories, enterprise RTOs (whose core business is not training) are funded differently to RTOs whose core business is training. In South Australia, for example, enterprise RTOs are funded at 50% of User Choice funding rates for non-enterprise RTOs.

Australian Capital Territory   All links and forms for User Choice are available from this link

New South Wales

In NSW, User Choice operates for all new entrant traineeships and selected apprenticeships in specific geographic regions.

Funding of registered training organisations for training delivered under User Choice is administered through the NSW Apprenticeship and Traineeship Training Program.

Apprenticeships delivered by TAFE NSW are outside the User Choice arrangements.

The Approved Providers List (APL) is one of the main mechanisms used to manage a number of the programs offered under the NSW Training Market. Access a brochure to find out more about the APL and how to become an approved provider.

Fact Sheets and Brochures

  • Brochure #01 – Becoming an Approved Provider
  • Brochure #02 – Doing Business through the Approved Providers List (go to Doing Business through the Approved Providers List page)
  • For other fact sheets, go to Doing Business through the Approved Providers List page
  • Approved Providers List Contracts
  • Doing Business through the Approved Providers List
  • Statistical Division (SD) and Statistical Sub-Division (SSD) Postcode Mapping

Frequently asked questions

What is funded

Providers are approved through a tender process.

Tenders are usually invited in September or October of the last year of the two year contract period. The current Approved Providers List Contract expires in December 2010. The call for tenders for the 2011-2012 Approved Providers List was planned for September/October 2010. The tender period is open for approximately four weeks.


A single set price is paid per apprenticeship or traineeship qualification irrespective of the mode of delivery.

In addition to the set price for apprenticeship or traineeship training, financial incentives in the form of higher price weightings are available to the following priority groups:

  • apprentices or trainees employed in a small businesses
  • apprentices or trainees in regional and rural locations
  • apprentices or trainees undertaking apprenticeships or traineeships with high equipment costs
  • indigenous people or people with a disability

Payment is prompted by the electronic lodgement of participant and training activity data in the format specified in the APL Contract.


Some critical documents you need to read:

  • A complete guide to apprenticeships and traineeships in NSW – explains the regulatory framework of the apprenticeship and      traineeship system and provides information on participants’ roles, responsibilities and funding.
  • The 2011-2012 Approved Providers List (APL) Contract – details eligibility, delivery requirements and compliance, financial and legal issues, and includes attachments including the ATTP requirements and ATTP price rates.
  • NSW Vocational Training Orders, Commissioner Information Bulletins and qualification documents – these three documents form a package of official information on individual or related apprenticeships or traineeships which includes job and qualification descriptions, competencies, training resources, industrial relations contacts etc.


For assistance with the Approved Providers List and contractual conditions in NSW: Phone 02 9266 8008, Fax 02 9264 5501. Email  For information on the NSW apprenticeship and training system contact: Phone 13 28 11 .

Northern Territory

The User Choice Program provides funding for the delivery of structured training and assessment for full-time, part-time and school-based apprentices and trainees in the Northern Territory. Qualifications that are approved for delivery as apprenticeships and traineeships in the NT are eligible for funding. Funding is awarded through the use of Workforce NT, community consultations and NT Government priorities.

The choice of RTOs may be limited in some cases, such as where there are small numbers (a thin market), but the objectives are the same. Each state and territory sets its own policies regarding User Choice and the amount of funds RTOs receive for providing structured training to each apprentice or trainee.

What is funded

Applications are invited from RTOs for the User Choice Program to deliver training services to apprentices and trainees (including school based) in the Northern Territory in 2012.

2012 Applications for User Choice funding have now closed.

  • 2012 application information (pdf 132 kb)
  • NT occupational shortage list
  • 2012 Annual Hours Curriculum (AHC) rates (pdf 411 kb)


RTOs wishing to provide structured training for apprentices and trainees are required to have a presence in the NT and to be familiar with:

  • NT Apprenticeships and Traineeships Policy (pdf 85 kb)
  • NT User Choice Policy (pdf 73 kb)
  • NT School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships Policy (pdf 107 kb)
  • NT School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships Policy – Update (pdf 18 kb)
  • NT Apprenticeships and Traineeships Travel and Accommodation Policy (pdf 59 kb)
  • Apprentice and Trainee Travel and Accommodation Subsidy Scheme Policy (pdf 30 kb)

Subsidies (for travel and accommodation) are available  to apprentices and trainees who are required to travel for training blocks.

In general the Department of Business and Employment (DBE) funds:

  • Certificate II and III qualifications for new employees
  • Certificate IV or Diploma only if it is entry level to employment or a progression from a lower level qualification
  • one progression, for example from Certificate II to III or Certificate III to IV
  • existing workers in accordance with the User Choice Funding Program Policy.

RTOs that are successful in applying for User Choice funding must enter into a funding contract (known as a Resource Agreement) with DBE.


User Choice Program Manager, Department of Business and Employment, GPO Box 2391, Darwin NT 0801, t: (08) 8901 1323?, e:


The Queensland User Choice program enables apprentices, trainees and their employers to select a preferred Registered Training Organisation (RTO) from a list of Pre-qualified Suppliers for the delivery of accredited training to meet their specific needs.

Pre-qualified Suppliers can claim payment from the Department of Education and Training for training delivered to eligible apprentices and trainees.

2010 – 2015 Documents
The above page provides comprehensive information on User Choice – Getting started under the Pre-Qualified supplier, getting started package document.  Further information on policies and documentation relating to the User Choice 2010 – 2015 program is also available.

2010 – 2015 Program

The User Choice 2010 – 2015 program aims to provide funding aligned to the skill needs of industry and respond to changing government priorities in a timely manner.

A number of key principles underpin the program, including, ensuring that the program is transparent, flexible, responsive, consistently applied and easily understood.

The three key considerations of the program are the government’s funding priorities, the price paid for qualifications and the purchasing strategy used to obtain training and assessment services.

To deliver publicly-funded training and assessment services to apprentices and trainees, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) must apply for, and be approved by the Department as, Pre-qualified Suppliers.

What is funded

The funding priorities under the User Choice 2010 – 2015 program will be:

  1. Priority One (100 per cent subsidised) – Priority One is those qualifications which lead to occupations identified as critical priorities as identified in the Queensland Skill Shortage List. All School-based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (in all qualifications declared as an Apprenticeship or Traineeship) and participants from priority population groups, excluding Priority Four and Unfunded qualifications, will be funded as Priority One.
  2. Priority Two (75 per cent subsidised) – Priority Two is those qualifications which lead to occupations not on the Queensland Skill Shortage List but are identified as high priorities which demonstrate a high level of occupational links with skills development, and are required to meet legislative requirements related to skills.
  3. Priority Three (50 per cent subsidised) – Priority Three is those qualifications which lead to occupations not on the Queensland Skill Shortage List but are identified as medium priorities which demonstrate a lower level of occupational links, and are not required to meet legislative requirements related to skills.
  4. Priority Four (25 per cent subsidised) – Priority Four is those qualifications which lead to non-entry level occupations and provide a key workforce development opportunity for existing workers and industry.  These qualifications will be funded under User Choice arrangements as a component of the Productivity Places Program, a joint Commonwealth and Queensland Government initiative.
  5. Unfunded – Unfunded qualifications are those which lead to occupations not on the Queensland Skill Shortage List and which are not a funding priority. This includes those qualifications which are not entry level qualifications identified by industry.

These funding priorities align with the skill outcomes required by industry.

The Queensland skill shortage list is compiled from national and state data, together with industry input, and is reviewed annually with updates throughout the year. Qualifications classified as a Priority One are those addressing skill shortages. The Queensland priorities are detailed in the User Choice 2010 – 2015 Qualification and price list.

Priority population groups are those declared on the national Apprenticeship/Traineeship Contract, such as individuals of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, individuals from a non-English speaking background and individuals with a disability, impairment or long-term condition.


User Choice 2011 – 2012 qualification and price list (XLS, 100KB) updated 06/02/2012
User Choice 2011 – 2012 restricted qualifications price list (XLS, 33KB) updated 06/02/2012
User Choice localities and location loadings (XLS, 784KB) updated 14/09/2011


Information regarding qualifications funded under the User Choice 2010 – 2015 program is available at User Choice 2010 – 2015 Qualification and price list.

User Choice 2010 – 2015 policies are available at the User Choice 2010 – 2015 documents page.


VET Investment, Department of Education and Training, PO Box 15033, CITY EAST QLD 4002, Email:, Phone: (07) 3227 6271, Facsimilie: (07) 3229 3470

User Choice contract management enquiries:

VET Contract Management and Performance, Department of Education and Training, Email:, Facsimile: (07) 3229 3470

South Australia

Skills for All will replace the User Choice system during 2012, but existing User Choice Funding Agreements will continue to be met until they expire on 30 June 2012.

With the launch of Skills for All in 2012, User Choice is being phased out and no new User Choice Funding Agreements are being offered.

Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) with existing User Choice Funding Agreements in South Australia will continue with their User Choice claim arrangements using the Apprenticeship Traineeship Information System (ATIS).

What is funded – 2011 User Choice Policy at a glance (PDF)

Pricing – SA User Choice Unit Price List (PDF)

Documents – User Choice Funding Agreement 2011 (PDF)

Apprenticeship Traineeship Information System

Apprenticeship Traineeship Information System (ATIS) is the online system that automates processes related to User Choice arrangements. It will remain active for training providers with existing User Choice Funding Agreements.

ATIS services include:

•User Choice claims (training providers who have a current User Choice Funding Agreement can make online claims for on-job and off-job delivery)

•User Choice Acquittal (training providers can complete and submit their User Choice Acquittal report online)

•online access to view contracts of training by both training providers and Australian Apprenticeship Centres (AACs)

• scope of registration (RTOs can view their scope of registration and qualifications).

To obtain access to ATIS each user must complete an ATIS Login Application Form and agree to the ATIS User Agreement. For new user access, download the ATIS login request form (PDF) and the ATIS User Agreement (PDF)

Contacts  For more information, call TAS on 1800 673 097 and ask to speak to a User Choice Officer.


Skills Tasmania reserves the right to negotiate the subsidy amount for RTOs wishing to train large numbers (20 or more) of apprentices or trainees for individual enterprises. This includes enterprise-based RTOs. (An enterprise based RTO is defined as an RTO which is wholly owned by a trading enterprise and whose sole purpose is to deliver training to the employees of that enterprise). In these cases enquiries should be directed by email to:

Carolyn Nichols, Manager Strategic Directions (Learners), Skills Tasmania, Ph: (03) 6233 4642, email:

2012 Application

RTOs may apply to deliver apprenticeships and traineeships in Tasmania year round, if they have appropriate scope, by completing the following User Choice Application and 2012 – 2014 Skills Tasmania Funding Agreement.

Step 1 – 2012 – 2014 Skills Tasmania Funding Agreement

All Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are required to enter into a 2012 – 2014 Skills Tasmania Funding Agreement with Skills Tasmania when obtaining a subsidy for training with Skills Tasmania in 2012.  It applies to all programs (except Adult Literacy Programs) and is for the delivery of training program commencements between 1 January and 31 December 2014 for individual programs entered into annually.

Step 2 – User Choice Application [Word 539KB]

RTOs can apply for User Choice funding anytime throughout a calendar year provided the qualifications that are being applied for are on their Scope of Registration at the time of applying.

Where an RTO wishes to deliver training to a single enterprise for 20 or more apprentices or trainees in the one qualification, they must request prior approval before lodging a User Choice application.

Skills Tasmania will subsidise training for delivery in Tasmania only, unless there are no RTOs who deliver a particular qualification in the state, in this case, User Choice will be paid for the closest RTO.

Only the approved application form listed is accepted. Agreements will only apply to commencements after the date of issue and will not be issued retrospectively.

What is funded

Skills Tasmania has changed the way in which agreements are issued to registered training organisations (RTOs).  The changes to the issuing of an Agreement are as follows:

  • An Agreement, known as the “2012-2014 Skills Tasmania Agreement” is for a period of three (3) years.
  • Every RTO is required to enter into an Agreement with Skills Tasmania if they wish to apply for any subsidised programs managed by Skills Tasmania for the period 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2014.
  • An Agreement can be entered into at any time within the three year period, but must be in place before submitting an application for any of the programs managed by Skills Tasmania.
  • Only one Agreement per RTO is required, i.e. per RTO Registration Number.
  • RTOs must have a signed Agreement in place before being given Purchasing Contract IDs for payment purposes.
  • There is no need to enter into an Agreement each an application is submitted.


Application forms are available for individual training programs.  If successful, the application will form what is referred to in the Agreement as Part 3 “Schedule of Purchased Programs”.  If an application is successful details relating to claims for payment will be given to a RTO.

Each time an application is submitted for any of the programs RTOs will be required to agree to the terms of the Agreement already entered into and that the organisation is bound by the 2012-2014 Skills Tasmania Agreement.

By signing the 2012-2014 Funding Agreement, RTOs are in no way guaranteed of program subsidies within the three year period.

Documents RTOs must still apply for through the individual programs using the specific application forms provided on each of the programs websites which are available at:

  • Funding/Subsides for      Apprenticeships and Traineeships (User Choice)
  • Skills Equip
  • PPP+

Contacts Free call number: 1800 655 846, Email:


All Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), including TAFE Institutes, are required to enter into a Service Agreement with the Victorian Skills Commission (VSC) in order to deliver government subsidised training under Skills for Victoria.

What is funded

2012 Service Agreement Skills for Victoria Program – reference guidelines, documents and Acts for the 2012 Service Agreement valid for students commencing training between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2012



RTOs that are contracted to deliver Victorian Government subsidised training will be involved in contract compliance audit program to ensure compliance with the conditions under which they are contracted. Information on the audit requirements can be found under Auditing.


TAFE and Training Line, 131 823 or, Skills Victoria Help Hub, 1300 842 754

Apprenticeship Administration Information Line, 1300 722 603 or

Apprenticeship Trade Bonus Hotline, 1300 855 282

Western Australia

The Department is strategically managing the Western Australian apprenticeship and traineeship system to:

  • manage public resources in the State vocational education and training system
  • strategically plan, fund and monitor publicly funded training
  • provide workforce development planning which includes:
    • a whole of Government approach
    • industry and regions
    • the Aboriginal workforce

The Department has released Skilling WA: A workforce development plan for Western Australia.  All information about tenders for training places is now listed on Tenders WA.

Contacts Phone: 08 6551 5000

Subscribe To Our newsletter

behind the scenes

More To Explore


Pitch Night

An old school pitch night was held at Stone and Chalk Adelaide at Lot 14 on a chilly night with 100+ people where The Hon