Internships Vs Apprenticeships

What’s the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship? 

Being an Apprentice or an Intern are both valid ways of getting valuable experience within a specific industry and extremely useful for employers to fill skill or staffing shortages. They both however differ greatly in the benefit to employer and trainee, but, what is the difference? Below we look at key differences and advantages of both:

1. How long do they last?

An internship usually only lasts for a few months with a maximum of a year placement whereas an apprenticeship will last for a minimum of a year and to as long as 4 years, depending on the qualification and industry.  An internship is usually regarded as a short work experience stint where an intern will put existing skills into use and gain experience. An Apprentice however  is a long term qualification where you teach an appropriate person new skills and knowledge to ensure they are of most value to the company long term.

2. Apprenticeships are qualifications, internships are work experience.

An apprentice will receive training from an apprenticeship provider, college or university and work towards a nationally recognised qualification at an appropriate level. This will be achieved through a combination of training, shadowing, coursework and mentoring and  they are required to spend a minimum of 20% of their time developing in this way. The apprenticeship is a combination of training from the provider and the employer so it is imperative that the company has the skills to teach and develop the new hire apprentice.

An intern on the other hand will only receive training from their employer and will not gain any form of qualification from the process. They will also usually only be putting existing skills into use and gaining experience rather than new skills from the process. Due to this it is not unheard of for an intern to be hired and given a project outside of the companies skillset or knowledge. Apprentices will be looking for their first step on the career ladder whereas an intern is collecting practical experience.

3. Apprenticeships are always paid whereas Internships are often not.

Internships are now increasing in structure and minimum requirements however many are still not paid. With schemes like Santander’s intern Salary matching, this helps to ensure students are not taken advantage of however this is very often not the case. An intern’s rights depend on their employment status. If an intern is classed as a worker, then they’re normally due the National Minimum Wage.
Internships are more regularly called work placements or work experience and these terms have no legal status on their own. Apprenticeships on the other hand are heavily regulated and although minimum wage for apprenticeships is £3.90 an hour, the majority are paid at a much higher rate. At Professional Apprenticeships, apprentices will earn anywhere from £11,000 – £15,000pa starting salary.

4. The BIG one, an apprenticeship is more likely to end as a full time role.

It is rare but not unheard of that an intern will be given a permanent role upon completion. Usually there is a short term need for such a skillset but not the need or potentially budget for this to become longer term. It is also rare that an intern will accept such a role as they are usually looking for short term experience to work towards a different goal. This doesn’t however lessen the positive impact and internship can have for both business and intern as long as clear expectations are set prior to commencing the placement.

An apprentice will normally be committing to a longer term agreement and more often than not, hope to be taken on after their apprenticeship. This makes apprenticeships an ideal system for addressing skills shortages, succession planning or bringing in new talent when expanding. When handled properly and well planned, the chances of retaining apprentices that have proven themselves is high and can lead to a long term career in a company they feel an immense sense of loyalty to. For the apprentice, sticking with the company you train in often leads to quicker progression as statistics show that home grown talent often progress quicker.

For more information on Apprenticeships or internships call us on 01174224000 or email