Apprenticeship vs Internship: Which is Best for Your Business?

Finding the right talent to grow your business is crucial. Both apprenticeships and internships offer ways to bring new energy and perspectives into your organisation. But which one is the better fit for your needs? Let’s break down the key differences between apprentices and interns to help you decide.


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Difference Between Apprentice and Intern

Two employers speaking to a candidate at an apprenticeship networking event (Access Industry).

The key difference between apprentices and interns boils down to the programme’s structure and goals. Apprenticeships are designed to cultivate a specific skill set for a trade or profession. These long-term commitments, typically lasting one to five years (averaging two), combine on-the-job training with classroom learning, often through a registered programme. Apprentices are paid positions, with wages increasing as their skills develop. Successful completion can lead to industry-recognised certifications and potentially full-time employment with the company.

In contrast, internships are shorter experiences, ranging from a few weeks to a year. They focus on providing students and recent graduates with practical work experience to complement their education or explore career options. Internships are primarily hands-on, with interns shadowing professionals, assisting with projects, and learning the ropes of the industry. Compensation can be paid or unpaid, depending on the programme and company. The main takeaway for interns is valuable work experience, professional networking, and the potential to secure future employment opportunities.

Thinking about it this way might help: apprenticeships are like attending a specialised trade school, offering paid on-the-job training and a clear path to a skilled profession. Internships, on the other hand, are more like temporary work experience programmes, providing practical experience and exposure to a particular field. Ultimately, the best choice for your business depends on your specific needs.


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What is an Internship?

An internship is a fantastic opportunity for students and recent graduates to bridge the gap between academics and the professional world. It provides them with hands-on experience in a real-world setting, allowing them to learn the practical skills and daily operations that textbooks can’t fully capture. Interns typically shadow experienced professionals, gaining valuable insights into specific job roles. They may also be entrusted with assisting on ongoing projects, contributing their fresh perspectives and helping to lighten the workload of the team. This not only benefits the intern by providing practical application of their knowledge, but it can also offer a valuable source of support for the business. Furthermore, internships can be a win-win situation for both businesses and interns in terms of recruitment.

Companies can assess potential future hires by observing their work ethic, skills, and fit within the company culture. Interns, on the other hand, can explore different career paths, build their network of professional contacts, and potentially land a coveted full-time position after graduation.


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How Long Can an Apprenticeship Last?

Unlike internships, apprenticeships are a longer-term commitment for both the apprentice and the company. The exact duration can vary significantly depending on the specific trade or skill being learned. Generally, apprenticeships range from one to around two years. This extended timeframe is crucial. It allows apprentices to gain in-depth knowledge and develop a mastery of a particular skill set through a combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning. This ensures they are well-prepared for a successful career in their chosen field upon graduation.


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Benefits of Hiring an Apprentice

Young apprentice student

Taking on an apprentice offers a multitude of advantages for your business:

  • Cultivate a Skilled Workforce: Apprenticeships provide a fantastic pipeline for building a team of highly skilled professionals within your company. By investing in their development, you’re nurturing talent who are already familiar with your company culture and work ethic.
  • Reduced Recruitment Costs: Training an apprentice can be a more cost-effective way to fill a position compared to traditional recruitment methods. The apprentice’s wages typically start lower and increase as their skills develop, and you avoid the upfront costs of searching for and onboarding a new hire.
  • Boost Productivity: Don’t underestimate the value an apprentice can bring from day one. While they’re learning, apprentices can also contribute to ongoing projects. Their fresh perspective and eagerness to learn can often lead to innovative ideas and increased efficiency.
  • Embrace Diversity and Inclusion: Apprenticeships can open doors to a wider pool of talented individuals. By offering apprenticeships, you’re sending a message that you’re invested in fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, attracting a broader range of qualified candidates.
  • Simple Process: In many regions, there are established channels to find and employ apprentices. Look for partnerships with training providers specialised in your industry or registered apprenticeship programs to connect with qualified candidates.


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Benefits of Hiring an Intern

Intern receiving training from manager

While apprentices offer long-term commitment and skill development, interns bring a unique set of advantages to your business:

  • Fresh Perspectives: Interns come with a wealth of new ideas and approaches. Their lack of experience in your specific industry can be a surprising asset, as they can challenge existing processes and spark innovation.
  • Cost-effective Support: Interns can provide valuable support to your team by assisting with administrative tasks, research projects, or data analysis. This frees up your team’s time to focus on core business functions and strategic initiatives.
  • Future Talent Pipeline: Internships are a fantastic way to identify and nurture potential future hires. By observing their work ethic, skills, and cultural fit, you can assess whether they’d be a strong addition to your team after graduation. Interns who impress can be offered full-time positions, saving you time and resources on the recruitment process.

Both apprenticeships and internships offer valuable opportunities to grow your business. Deciding which option is best for you depends on your specific needs.


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Hiring an apprentice

Looking to build a highly skilled workforce with deep industry knowledge in the creative fields like music, events, digital media, or marketing? Apprenticeships might be the ideal solution. They provide a long-term commitment with a clear path to developing qualified professionals. This is where Access Industry could be a great route for your business. As a training provider specialising in apprenticeships within the creative industries, they can connect you with talented individuals and guide you through the process.

No matter which path you choose, both apprentices and interns can be valuable assets to your company. By carefully considering your needs and goals, you can leverage these programs to find the perfect talent to help your business thrive.

Last updated on: 24th May 2024