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What’s The Difference Between An Apprenticeship And A Traineeship?

apprenticeships infographicsNational Apprenticeship Week 2017 will focus on progression and the ladder of opportunity so we thought it would be ideal to look at the difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship.


Traineeships are an education, training and work experience programme that prepares young people for the world of work. They were introduced in August 2013 for 16 – 23 year olds and from 2014 have been available for 16 – 24 year olds (inclusive). They are delivered as a partnership between employers and training providers. The content of the training is designed around the needs of the young person but all young people who have not yet achieved GCSEs in English or maths are required to do this as part of the programme.  They can last from six weeks to six months and include on average 100 – 240 hours of work experience. At the end of the programme the trainee may receive a real job interview where a job or an apprenticeship is available or an exit interview and feedback from the employer.

Traineeships are part of the same family as apprenticeships. They are designed to provide trainees with the skills and work experience that they need to get an apprenticeship or a job. They are delivered by high quality providers and for 16 – 19 year olds they form part of their study programme.

Who are traineeships for?

Traineeships are for young people who do not have a job and who need to gain experience in the workplace and who importantly are positive about gaining skills and work. They are available for 16 – 19 year olds (inclusive) who are not employed and who lack experience in the workplace or 19 – 24 year olds (inclusive) who have not yet gained a full level two qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs A*- C)


Apprenticeships are available is a wide range of industry areas and at three levels: Intermediate, Advanced and Higher. Higher level apprenticeships are equivalent to anything from a higher education certificate to a master’s degree.

On an apprenticeship you can earn, train and progress and if you have developed an interest in a particular industry, an apprenticeship can be a good way of getting your career started.

Apprenticeships typically last between one and four years, although some higher apprenticeships, such as the solicitor’s apprenticeship last longer than this.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship is the level of commitment involved. With an apprenticeship the employer agrees to employ the person for the term of the apprenticeship and once that period is complete all parties must agree that the contract is cancelled. With a traineeship, the employer agrees to employ the young person for the term of the traineeship but the contract can be cancelled at any time by signing a cancellation form. The other difference lies in what happens in the event of the business being sold during the period of traineeship / apprenticeship. On an apprenticeship should this happen, the new employer must keep the apprentice on, but there is no obligation with a traineeship.

The other key difference is pay. The minimum wage for apprentices if you are under 19 or in your first year of an apprenticeship is £3.30 ph (find more minimum pay details) but trainees are exempt from the minimum wage. They may qualify for financial help in the form of a bursary however. Go to to find out more.

How do I find a traineeship or apprenticeship?

Visit  to find traineeship and apprenticeship vacancies or contact your local college or training provider to see if they are offering opportunities.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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