Internships, traineeships and apprenticeships offer an important route to a job or profession. Typically, they are aimed at a person starting their first career but can also benefit people seeking to embark on a new career, or who are returning to work following a long absence. The definition of each will vary depending on the specific profession, industry or country where they are being offered.


An apprenticeship offers a work-based training and mentoring opportunity which is focussed on a specific job or profession. In general, it is a paid position, of specific duration, during which the apprentice acquires a high level of technical or creative skill.

Apprenticeships usually take a minimum of two years to complete and, upon successful completion, will result in a recognised industry qualification. Successfully qualified apprentices tend to have high employment prospects.

Industries which offer apprenticeships include engineering, construction, carpentry, plumbing, hairdressing and electrics.

Further information about undertaking an apprenticeship in Ireland can be found at:


Traineeships are designed to provide a broad set of skills to people who are seeking to work in any one of a variety of roles within a particular sector. They tend to be part work-based (though unpaid), featuring mentoring, formal training and a possible external work placement.

Normally running for less than one year, successful completion of the traineeship results in a national (rather than an industry) certification.

A traineeship is ideal for someone who:

  • wishes to work in a particular sector but does not have the required work experience, references or educational grades
  • is returning to work following an long absence and wishes to refresh their skills
  • wishes to use the opportunity as a springboard with which they will leverage existing skills
  • might be interested in progressing to an apprenticeship
  • needs to start building a network of industry contacts and prospective employers

Further information on Traineehships in Ireland can be found at:

[Click here for information on Speedpak’s Traineeship programme.]


Aimed mostly at college graduates, internships are essentially a temporary work placement in a wide variety of non-technical employment sectors. They offer graduates the opportunity to acquire relevant work experience and practical skills in a career or profession which ideally relates to their previous field of study.

Rather than formal on-the-job training, internships are likely to focus initially on learning-by-observation with interns assigned non-critical low-responsibility tasks under the supervision of a manager, team leader or partner.

Internships tend to be short in duration, typically under one year and the work is almost always unpaid or very lowly paid. The advantage for the intern is, that while improving their practical skills, they have the opportunity to showcase their abilities and to use their position to network and identify potential employment opportunities.

There is however, a distinct lack of industry standards and so organisations tend to vary widely with regard to the definition they apply to an Internship and, by extension, to the supports provided to their interns. Since the work tends to be unpaid, the prospective intern should try as far as is possible, to establish in advance, the parameters and scope of the position being offered.