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Apprenticeships vs. internships vs. bootcamps: What's the difference?

By Team Multiverse

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  1. Apprenticeships, Internships and Bootcamps: Which one is right for your business?
  2. Internships: A temporary, low-budget program
  3. Bootcamps: An accelerated way to build new skills
  4. Apprenticeships: A practical alternative to hiring and training talent and an investment in the future
  5. Gain the apprenticeship advantage with Multiverse

Bootcamps, internships, and apprenticeships all have a role to play. But which will best support your company’s goals?

Over the past decade, the global workforce has gone through a revolutionary shift. Companies are hiring for jobs that simply didn’t exist ten years ago and yet, many early workplace experiences are still defined by menial and often unpaid(opens new window) internships.

With the rise of digitization, it’s become clear that traditional colleges simply don’t teach the practical skills required in the modern working world, contributing to a glaring disconnect between what new workers are learning and what employers actually need.

But forward-looking businesses have caught on. The percentage of job postings requiring a college degree have now decreased from 51% in 2017 to 44% in 2021(opens new window).

As a growing number of companies shift their focus to prioritize skills and experience over formal education, employers are turning to alternatives like apprenticeships, internships, and bootcamps — to close skills gaps and find qualified talent.

Today we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you choose the best option.

Apprenticeships, Internships and Bootcamps: Which one is right for your business?

While there’s no hard answer for which kind of training is the right fit for every organization or individual, there are a few key considerations you’ll want to be aware of as you make your decision.

For example, if you’re looking for a long-term solution that consistently helps you gain in-demand skills for the future, apprenticeships can deliver that in the form of ongoing training based on full-time work experience — something that bootcamps and internships simply don’t offer.

Before we get into the inner workings of each, here’s a quick chart for easy comparison.

Internships: A temporary, low-budget program

Internships are temporary placements that generally focus on undergraduates or young professionals just out of college. Internships are not considered standalone training programs, but rather supplementary real-world experience on top of a college degree.

The structure and format of an internship varies greatly by industry and company, but they are typically designed to provide generalized support to existing employees in a particular department. Internships can lead to full-time employment, but it’s not always (or even usually(opens new window)) the end result.

How are internships different from apprenticeships?

Though often used interchangeably, an intern trainee is not the same as an apprentice because internships do not typically combine on-the-job training with an organized curriculum and they do not guarantee paid training for a specific role.

Another key difference between internships and apprenticeships is that internships can vary in length depending on an employer’s needs, while apprenticeships have a clear set of goals to be achieved within a specific timeframe.

For many employers, the value of internships comes in their high flexibility and low cost. But these are also the same reasons they can lead to a raw deal(opens new window) for young professionals and increased legal risk for employers.

In recent years, internships — especially those that are low or unpaid — have come under increased scrutiny. Even household name brands have ended up with hefty lawsuits(opens new window) after offering unpaid internships.

With internships, employers are looking for someone to do a job — not teach them how to do it. This is a critical difference from apprenticeships, which are specifically designed for teaching workers applicable skills for the future.

Bootcamps: An accelerated way to build new skills

Bootcamps are short, intensive training programs that fit a comprehensive curriculum of applied skills training into an accelerated period of time. Bootcamps are defined by their short time to completion which sets them apart from apprenticeships.

Like apprenticeships, bootcamps are skills-focused. They have a specific curriculum and agenda and participants are required to complete the bootcamp in its entirety. The programs are developed and executed by the employer or in partnership with a training consultant or external company that often charges a significant fee(opens new window).

How are bootcamps different from apprenticeships?

While bootcamps are often an effective way to learn in-demand skills in a short period of time, it can be difficult for participants to retain that knowledge due to their short-term nature(opens new window). This is a notable difference compared to apprenticeships, which focus on applied learning through repeated tasks over a period of time that is typically 12 months or longer and combine the theoretical and practical learning so participants can apply that knowledge to different contexts.

The cost factor is another key differentiator between bootcamps and apprenticeships.

Since the cost of bootcamps isn’t always covered by employers, and since they often require additional expenses and time away from work, they can be difficult for both young professionals and experienced employees to access. While many bootcamps offer accreditation, not all of them do. It is possible to find bootcamps that charge five-figure fees and do not result in a nationally recognized certification.

Apprenticeships, on the other hand, are more affordable, end in accreditation and are designed to help learners retain the skills they’ve gained through regular applied learning.

Apprenticeships: A practical alternative to hiring and training talent and an investment in the future

Apprenticeships are paid programs that combine the best of applied learning and accredited training. Apprenticeships are skills-focused with clear goals based on real day-to-day workflows.

Unlike internships, many apprenticeships end in full-time employment at the employer organization. The US Department of Labor reports that 93% of apprentices(opens new window) retain full-time employment with their organization at an average starting salary of $77K, well above the average for a college graduate.

“I wanted to participate in an apprenticeship to gain first-hand experience as a software engineer, which is a career I have always hoped to pursue,” says Mustafa, Software Engineering apprentice at Citi. “Having initially tried university I liked the learning style of an apprenticeship where you can implement what you have learned straight away.”

Two hallmark features of an apprenticeship include direct mentorship and full-time responsibilities. Apprentices work with managers and supervisors within the organization to learn in real-world settings using the employer’s own software, tools, and equipment.

The rise of professional apprenticeships

It’s important to note that while apprenticeships are commonly viewed as exclusive to blue collar industries, an increasing number of apprenticeships offer a curriculum for high-growth job areas such as software engineering, business analysis, and data literacy.

Today, hundreds of thousands of apprentices are leveraging the power of apprenticeships to create alternative pathways to high-growth roles without the cost burden of a four-year degree.

This means that apprenticeships also play a pivotal role in increasing diversity by providing access to relevant learning opportunities for both young professionals and existing employees eager to learn new skills.

Skills you’ll use and remember

With bootcamps and internships, participants aren’t always ready for full-time jobs upon completion. The short-term nature of a bootcamp doesn’t guarantee skills retention and the low-paid, generalized nature of an internship rarely leads to interns feeling confident in a corporate setting.

Since apprenticeships typically require at least 12 months of training before completion, they are often more structured and goal-oriented than bootcamps and participants are much more likely to retain the skills they’ve learned.

Depending on the type of apprenticeship program you offer, apprentices may also receive additional support via access to expert coaches, online communities, and peer networking events to help them make a smooth transition into full-time employment.

More dynamic than bootcamps and internships

Apprenticeships are incredibly flexible.

They can be used to help employers build a diverse pipeline of early talent, upskill existing employees to accelerate their careers, or even reskill employees by teaching them completely new skills for roles they’ve never held before.

While internships may open doors to new professional opportunities and bootcamps can be effective for delivering specialized training in a short period of time, apprenticeships do all of that and more — leading to faster onboarding, reduced recruitment and training costs, and increased employee retention.

Gain the apprenticeship advantage with Multiverse

At Multiverse, we're closing the gap between education and employability by creating new pathways for skills-based training using the power of apprenticeships.

We work with over 500 companies, helping them address the business challenges that traditional training and hiring methods won’t solve. Our approach is simple — we source, train, and retain exceptional under-represented talent through apprenticeships.

We offer our programs to a diverse pool of young adults and those looking to reskill. Apprentices benefit from personalized coaching, applied learning, and a community of social, networking and leadership opportunities.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we’re tearing down a broken training system and building something new.

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