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100+ Words You Might Need to Know…

COL's Job Seeker's WorkshopHere’s a glossary of the meanings of over 100 useful terms you might find on your career journey.

Accredited training

Training that is nationally recognised and provided by Registered Training Organisations, including TAFEs.

Advanced diploma

A VET or higher education qualification that usually requires a minimum of two years to complete.

Affirmative action

An Australian Government policy to achieve equal employment opportunity for women in the workplace. Most state governments have complementary legislation. See also Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity.

Annual leave

The paid holidays to which all full-time and part- time employees are entitled (usually four weeks for each year of full-time employment or a proportional amount for part-time employment).


Apprenticeships combine practical work with structured training to provide nationally recognised qualifications and experience. Participants earn while they learn. Apprenticeships are referred to as Australian Apprenticeships in some states (see below).

Associate degree

An undergraduate qualification that usually requires two years of full-time (or equivalent part-time) study.

Assumed knowledge

The minimum level of achievement in senior school studies considered necessary for successful first-year tertiary study. Students lacking the assumed level of knowledge are not prevented from enrolling, but they may be disadvantaged unless they undertake recommended bridging, preparatory or introductory subjects prior to or during their first year of study.

Australian Apprenticeship

Australian Apprenticeships combine practical work with structured training to provide nationally recognised qualifications and experience. Participants earn while they learn. Australian Apprenticeships are referred to as Apprenticeships or Traineeships in some states.

Australian School- based Apprenticeship

An arrangement that enables students to start an Australian Apprenticeship while continuing their school studies.


A legally binding document that sets out rates of pay and conditions to be provided by employers for employees covered by the award. There are federal and state awards.

Award rate

The minimum rate of pay for a particular classification in an award. Payments that exceed the award rate are quite common and are referred to as Over-award payments.

Bachelor degree

An undergraduate qualification requiring three or more years of full-time (or equivalent part- time) study.

Block release training

The release of apprentices from their normal workplace (usually two weeks per term) to attend full-time vocational study.


An additional payment made by an employer for good performance or greater productivity.

Business hours

Usually Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, but hours vary greatly between industry sectors.


An employment arrangement in which an employer agrees to subsidise the formal training of an employee to enable certain qualifications to be obtained. The employee is usually required to remain with the employer for a specified period after training is completed.

Casual work

Employment in which the days, hours and times worked vary according to the needs of the employer. Employees are usually paid on an hourly basis.

Certified agreement

An agreement between an employer and employees or unions that details wages, working conditions and work practices in that particular organisation.


A fee or percentage paid to a salesperson or agent for sales or services, usually on top of a retainer.

Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP)

A higher education place where the tuition costs are subsidised by the government. The remaining amount, called the ‘student contribution’, may be paid in full by the student or deferred using HECS-HELP.

Competency-based training

Training based on the ability to perform tasks rather than the length of time spent in training.

Contract of employment

An informal agreement between an employer and employee about the job to be done and the conditions of employment (wages and hours of work, for example). Unlike formal agreements, an informal agreement (such as a contract of employment) does not have to be registered by a government body.

Contract of training/ training agreement

A legally binding contract or agreement between an employer and apprentice. The employer guarantees to train the apprentice in the agreed occupation, and the apprentice agrees to learn all aspects of the occupation and to work for the employer for a specified period of time. Formerly known as an indenture.

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Written summary of a person’s educational qualifications, employment history and personal details. This can also be called a Résumé.

Danger money

Payment in addition to normal wages for work that involves risk.


Money taken out of an employee’s pay by an employer for payments such as superannuation or health care.


A person who is wholly or partially supported financially by someone else.


A VET or higher education qualification that usually requires one to two years of full-time (or equivalent part-time) study.


Unfair treatment of a person, or giving another person an advantage or disadvantage, because of their race, religion, gender, disability, age or other personal attributes, that does not relate to work performance. See also Equal Employment Opportunity.


When an employer ends a worker’s employment.

Duty statement

A written outline of the main duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required for a particular job. Also called a position description.

Employer association

An association of employers that promotes and represents their individual or collective interests.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

An Australian Government policy to discourage discrimination in employment. Employers following this policy consider job applicants on their ability, not on their race, religion, gender, disability, age or other personal attributes that do not relate to work performance.


A government loan scheme that helps full-fee higher education students to meet their tuition costs. HELP loans are repaid after graduation through the taxation system.


An arrangement whereby employees can start and finish work earlier or later than the normal times. Time debits or credits can be built up (within specified limits), enabling a flex day to be taken off every now and then. There are conditions attached to flexitime to make the system manageable. These vary between employers.


A form of self-employment whereby a person agrees to do some work for someone else at an agreed price.

Full-fee place

A place in a higher education course where the student is responsible for meeting the entire cost of tuition. See FEE-HELP for details of the federal government’s loan scheme for eligible full-fee students.

Full-time work

Generally considered to be employment for a full working week (normally five or six days) for a minimum of 35 hours. Full-time workers are eligible for annual leave, sick leave and other entitlements.

Graduate diploma

A postgraduate award requiring one year of full- time (or equivalent part-time) study.

Gross pay

Pay before tax and other deductions have been taken out.

Group certificate

See PAYG summary.

Group Training Organisation

A company that takes on apprentices and then hires them out for short or long periods to employers who do not have the capacity to take them on full time.


A federal government loan scheme that helps students with a Commonwealth Supported Place to pay their student contribution. HELP loans are repaid after graduation through the taxation system.

Human Resources (HR) officer

An employee concerned with all matters affecting staff, such as recruitment, welfare, training, wages and salaries.

Income tax

Tax deducted from an employee’s wages by the employer and paid to the federal government.


The contract by which a person, such as an apprentice, is bound to service. See Contract of training/training agreement.

Itinerant worker

A person who travels from place to place working in various jobs.

Job sharing

An arrangement where one full-time job is shared by two or more employees. The hours of work are arranged to suit the employees and the particular job.

Key competencies

Any of several generic skills or competencies considered essential for people to participate effectively in the workforce. They include collecting, analysing and organising information; communicating ideas and information; planning and organising activities; working with others and in teams; using mathematical ideas and techniques; solving problems; and using technology.

Labour market

A term used to describe the number of people who are willing and able to work.

Leave loading

An extra payment made to some employees when they take annual leave.


Usually formal instructional classes involving large groups of students. See also Tutorial.

Living away from home allowance

An allowance paid to an employee who is prevented by employment from living at their normal place of residence.

Long service leave

An additional period of leave, usually three months, granted to an employee who has worked for the same employer for 10 to 15 years.

Maternity/paternity/ parental leave

Granted to parents by employers to cover a period of several weeks before and after the birth of a child. Unpaid leave of up to 12 months may be granted, and a limited period of paid leave may be granted at the employer’s discretion.

Minimum wage

The lowest wage that may legally be paid to an adult employee.

Net pay

Pay after deductions (including tax and superannuation) have been taken out.

Off-the-job training

Instruction that takes place away from an individual’s normal work situation.

On-the-job training

Instruction that takes place in a normal work situation while workers are doing their normal job.

Over-award payments

Payments that exceed the minimum rate specified in the award.


Time worked in excess of the daily or weekly hours prescribed by an award or determination.

Part-time work

Work for significantly fewer hours than for full- time work under the same award. Part-time workers are eligible for entitlements such as annual leave and sick leave in proportion to the time worked.

PAYG (Pay As You Go) Summary

A yearly statement of an employee’s earnings issued by the employer for taxation purposes. Formerly known as a group certificate.

Penalty pay

An additional amount of money that must be paid according to some awards to employees for working nights, weekends or public holidays.


A regular government payment, usually made to people to meet social welfare needs such as an age, carer’s, widow’s or disability pension.


Work for which pay is based on the number of ‘pieces’ or goods that are completed or produced (garments made or fruit picked, for example).


A subject or qualification required to be eligible for entry to a particular course.

Pre-vocational course

An introductory course aimed at giving participants a range of underpinning skills (including literacy, numeracy and communication) needed to be ready for employment or more specific skills-based training.

Private provider

Private providers are divided into Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that offer Vocational Education and Training (VET) and private higher education providers. Private providers often focus on one field or a small selection of fields, such as aviation, design or business.

Probation/ probationary period

A trial period that enables an employer to assess a person’s suitability for a job.


Advancement to a job of higher rank or position that attracts higher pay.


A limit that a college or university places on the number of students who can enter a course at any one time.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)/ Recognition of Current Competency (RCC)

Credit given for previous experience or training that is used for entry to, or credit towards, formal education or training.

Recreation leave

See Annual leave.


Movement of an employee between jobs for greater efficiency or when some tasks are no longer needed (when machinery takes over some jobs, for example).


When an employee is let go by a company due to their services no longer being required. This may be caused by the introduction of automation or other technological changes, or a decrease in the demand for goods/services provided by the company

Redundancy pay/ severance pay

Compensation paid by an employer to an employee whose services are no longer required due to redundancy. See Redundancy (above).


A statement about personal qualifications, character, and dependability from a responsible person (referee) familiar with the job applicant.

Registered Training Organisation (RTO)

Any training organisation registered to provide vocational education, training and/or assessment services. This includes TAFE institutes, private providers, schools and industry bodies, among others.


Formal notice of an employee’s intention to cease working for an employer. The conditions under which a person may resign are contained within the relevant Award or Agreement for each position. Normally at least one week’s notice must be given when resigning.


A written summary of educational qualifications, employment history, and personal details. This can also be called a Curriculum vitae (CV).


A basic fee or wage paid to salespeople. A Commission is usually paid as well.


The end of employment, generally due to the worker reaching a certain age.


Instruction that is given so that an employee can take another job.

Rostered Day Off (RDO)

A paid day’s leave granted instead of payment for extra hours worked in a fixed period (a fortnight or month, for example). Some awards and agreements provide an RDO as part of the normal hours of work.


A fixed amount of money paid to an employee for work performed. This can be expressed as an annual, monthly, fortnightly or weekly amount. See also Wages.


A lump sum grant designed to help maintain a student. There may or may not be conditions attached to the grant. For example, you may have to work for a specified time for the organisation granting the funds.

Seasonal work

Work that is only done at certain times of the year, such as fruit picking or shearing.

Selection test

A method used by employers to determine suitable applicants. Selection tests may vary in length and subject matter. They are generally based on speed and accuracy, combined with knowledge of the subject area.


A person who works for themselves rather than for an employer. See also Freelance.

Senior secondary school certificate

The state-specific certificate awarded to students upon graduation from high school.


A worker’s position in the workplace according to their level of experience or the responsibility of the position they hold.


In some industries, work may be rostered into two or three shifts over a 24-hour period.

Sick leave

Paid leave granted to an employee who cannot attend work because of illness or injury. There is a limit to the amount of sick leave that can be taken.

Special leave

Paid leave granted to cover special situations such as the death of close relatives, attending jury service, undertaking private study or attending to trade union affairs.

Structured work placement

Structured experience and practice in the workplace that allows students to learn practical skills. The outcome of this on-the-job training may contribute to the senior secondary school certificate or industry-recognised qualifications.

Study leave

Leave given to employees to attend courses of study that are approved by their employer.

Superannuation (Super)

A savings scheme funded by employers and employees. The total (plus interest) is paid out either in full or as a continuing pension to the employee on retirement.


The process whereby work is allocated to members of a team by a supervisor. Some positions are closely supervised, while others allow for a more flexible, independent and self- motivated approach. In every job there is an element of supervision.

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes

TAFE institutes provide Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses.

Taxable income

The portion of a person’s income remaining after any tax-free allowances have been deducted. It is normally less than Gross pay.

Tertiary education

Post-secondary courses offered by universities, private providers and TAFE institutes.


A person who is receiving instruction.


Traineeships combine practical work with structured training to provide a nationally recognised qualification and experience. Participants earn while they learn. Referred to as Australian Apprenticeships in some states.


The development of skills, knowledge and aptitudes necessary to perform a job.

Training packages

Training packages are set standards and qualifications for recognising and assessing people’s skills that are developed by industry and endorsed by the government. The training packages ensure that Vocational Education and Training (VET) meets industry standards and is consistent across each state and territory.


A class that is smaller than a formal lecture, which provides students with the opportunity to discuss the lecture material or other associated topics in greater depth with their tutor and fellow students. See also Lecture.


An association of people doing the same or similar work or working in the same industry who have come together collectively to further their common interests by negotiating with employers.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Post-compulsory education and training, excluding degree and higher-level programmes delivered by higher education institutions, which provides people with occupational or work-related knowledge and skills.

VET in Schools (VETiS)

Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses undertaken as part of a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

Voluntary work

Work that is done for no payment, such as delivering Meals on Wheels or hospital visiting.


Payment for services that is usually made on an hourly, daily, weekly or piece basis. See also Salary.

Work experience

Any unpaid participation in the workforce designed to provide an experience of working life. Many schools arrange work experience for secondary students as part of career education programmes.

Workers compensation

Money paid to an employee for losses (financial and physical) caused by an injury or disease that occurs at work.

Workers agreement

Individual agreements between employers and workers, and sometimes their representatives, for a particular workplace that set out the conditions of employment.

Workplace bargaining

The process in which an employer and employees or unions work together to develop an agreement on wages and conditions that apply to that organisation.

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