Difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship?

Difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship?

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What’s the difference between an apprenticeship and a traineeship? The team at Icon Training help you navigate the two career paths.


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.


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. 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 per hour but trainees are exempt from the minimum wage. They may qualify for financial help in the form of a bursary however.

Interested in an apprenticeship? Review the Apprenticeship section on our website or to find an apprenticeship in your area visit the government apprenticeship website.