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What are apprenticeships and how are they different from other education?

Considering an apprenticeship but weighing up your options? Check out our guide to what apprenticeships are and how they’re different from other types of education.

Apprenticeships are becoming more popular

In today’s rapidly changing world, people are seeking different pathways to train and start rewarding careers. Apprenticeships have gained more and more popularity as an alternative form of education and training that offers advantages over traditional academic options. In this article, we will explore what an apprenticeship is and how it differs from other forms of education and training.


So, what are apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship is a course that combines hands-on work experience with external classroom or remote training. They are designed to help people acquire practical skills and knowledge in a specific trade, profession, or industry. Apprenticeships can last anywhere from one to four years, depending on the job and the level of the apprenticeship itself.


Apprenticeship key features

  • Work experience: Apprenticeships place a strong emphasis on practical, real-world experience. Apprentices work directly alongside experienced professionals in their chosen field, gaining valuable skills through hands-on training;
  • External education: While in a job, apprentices also participate in structured classroom or remote training with their training provider. Depending on the level of the course, you’ll learn the theoretical foundations and principles of your area of study. This combination of theory and practice is a hallmark of apprenticeships;
  • Earn while you learn: Unlike many traditional educational paths, apprenticeships offer you the opportunity to earn money while you are in training. This feature makes apprenticeships more financially logical for many people;
  • Industry-recognised credentials: Apprenticeships often involve studying toward industry-recognised certifications or qualifications. These are often highly valued by employers. These qualifications can boost your employability.


Differences from other forms of education

Now, let’s explore how apprenticeships are different from other forms of education and training:

University education

  • Apprenticeships focus on practical, job-specific skills, and often lead to a job after they are completed.
  • University education typically provides a broader and more theoretical education, which may require additional time for skill development. Also, university education rarely guarantees a job afterward.

Trade programs

  • Apprenticeships combine both hands-on training and classroom education, offering a more rounded learning experience.
  • Trade programs Tend to be more classroom-based, with less emphasis on real-world work experience.


Online courses and certifications

  • Apprenticeships provide in-depth, industry-specific training that can lead to true mastery of professions.
  • Online courses and certifications are often more flexible and self-paced but may not offer the same level of practical experience.



  • Apprenticeships are longer in duration, providing a more in-depth learning experience and pay.
  • Internships tend to be shorter and focus on introducing students to the workplace, offering limited time for skill development. They are unpaid.



  • Apprenticeships are structured, guided programs with mentorship, ensuring you get a well-rounded skill set.
  • Self-study requires a high degree of self-discipline and you will lack the structured guidance provided by apprenticeships.


Benefits of apprenticeships

Apprenticeships offer several unique benefits that set them apart from other forms of education and training:

Practical Experience

The on-the-job training aspect of apprenticeships will allow you to immediately apply what you learn in a real-world setting, making you highly skilled and job-ready.


Apprentices earn a wage while they learn, reducing the financial burden associated with traditional education.

Industry connections

Apprentices build valuable industry connections and networks through their work with experienced professionals, enhancing their career prospects.

Career pathways

Many apprenticeships offer clear pathways into careers within the industry, leading to long-term job security.


Wrapping up

Apprenticeships are a dynamic approach to continuing your education and training, offering you a practical, skill-oriented learning experience. As they combine workplace experience with classroom training, apprenticeships provide a well-rounded education that will prepare you for a future career. Whether you’re a young person exploring career options or someone looking to make a career change, apprenticeships present a unique opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge needed for a successful future.

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