One thing that employers and workers share is the need to place skilled individuals in positions where they have the skills to succeed. Workers can't advance their careers without basic skills, and employers need to be able to assess the knowledge and abilities of job candidates to ensure that a workforce will be productive and reliable. Both apprenticeships and on-the-job training programs address these needs, though in somewhat different ways.


Apprenticeships are a form of on-the-job training based on a formal arrangement between entry-level workers, employers and apprenticeship sponsors. Most apprenticeship programs also include some form of classroom instruction that enhances a trainee's skills. Sponsors consist of industry organizations and trade groups that seek to train new workers in a field. Would-be apprentices apply for positions through a sponsor, who then places the trainees with individual employers. The employer provides a wage, along with practical skills training. At the end of an apprenticeship, the employer may extend a job offer to the apprentice or allow the apprentice to pursue work elsewhere.

On-The-Job Training

Another common form of training for specific jobs and tasks is on-the-job training. It consists of formal or informal training that takes place after an employee has been hired. Employers may mandate on-the-job training for all new workers, or only for those who lack certain skills that are necessary for filling a position. Following training, an employee is able to perform tasks alone without supervision or additional training. However, further training can take place at any time an employer wants to improve the skills of a worker or group of workers.


One key difference between apprenticeships and on-the-job training is the form of regulation for each training method. Apprenticeships are highly regulated by states, the federal government and organizations that sponsor them. These regulations cover age limits and pay rates for apprentices, working conditions and quality of instruction. On-the-job training falls to each individual employer to organize. This means that employees who receive training are only covered by general employment laws that protect their basic rights.

Pros and Cons

Each type of training has its own benefits and drawbacks. Apprenticeships allow employers to gain inexpensive labor in exchange for skills training. However, they don't always supply full-time, permanent workers. Likewise, apprentices can gain valuable experience but not necessarily a permanent position through an apprenticeship program. On-the-job training is only valuable to workers who can get hired despite lacking certain skills. It also costs time and money for an employer to offer job training to an employee who is already receiving a standard wage. But the result of effective training by an employer is a stronger workforce and a greater understanding of employees' skills.