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What’s the difference between Apprenticeships or Kickstart?

A common question that we face is what’s the difference between an apprenticeship and other schemes like Kickstart? This articles will answer your questions, as well as provide some comparisons to give you a better understanding of both options. 

Is Kickstart the same as an apprenticeship? 

Quite simply no, the two schemes are completely different. Whilst employers are expected to provide employability skills as part of the kickstart scheme these are not recognised qualifications. This differs significantly from an apprenticeship where you maintain continuous learning throughout your placement and take a final exam to gain recognised qualifications.

What is the kickstart scheme? 

Kickstart was introduced in mid-2020 to help unemployed 16 – 24-year-olds find jobs fast. As part of the scheme, the government covers 100% of the employment cost for workers for 6 months. The plan was introduced to effectively kickstart the workforce and get young people, claiming universal credit, back into work. 

How long do they last? 

An apprenticeship lasts a minimum of 18 months and will include a 20% allocation of your working hours for learning. This can be extended if an employee or candidate feels they need more time before they take an exit exam. 

The Kickstart scheme covers 6 months of employment only and cannot be extended beyond this point.

How does it differ for employers? 

Both schemes are equal when it comes to employment rights and should be treated by employers like any other job. This includes paid leave entitlement, pension contributions and contracts of employment.

The main difference for employers is financial. Employers need to cover the cost of apprentice wages, meaning they pay the minimum apprentice wage of £4.30 per hour, although this can be increased at an employers discretion. 

Kickstart employees are entitled to the minimum wage for their age bracket for the full 6 months, this ranges from £4.62 up to £8.91. An employer can choose to increase thi,s but they will only be reimbursed by the scheme for the minimum wage.

Can you move on to an apprenticeship after kickstart? 


Whilst you cannot be on a kickstart scheme and be employed as an apprentice at the same time, employers can transfer the placement to an apprenticeship after the 6-month kickstart placement. Employers are still able to claim funding for learning for the apprentice plus any incentive grants that may be available.

From 11 January 2022, Employers can apply for a payment of £3,000 for apprentices starting between 1st October 2021 and the 31st January 2022.

This is on top of the existing £1000 grant currently available, this is great for apprenticeships as it opens the door to lots of opportunities in many industries that may not have considered the scheme as a way to grow their workforce. 

Apprenticeship key points

  • Learn and train for a specific job or trade.
  • Incentives for employers
  • Funded learning 
  • Available for anyone over the age of 16 
  • Get paid whilst you learn.
  • Same entitlement to leave as normal employees
  • Get hands-on experience in a real job
  • Study for at least 20% of your work hours
  • Receive a qualification
  • Start on your career path

Kickstart key points 

  • It must be a new position
  • Must be aged between 16-24 years old and be in receipt of Universal Credit.
  • Includes basic employability training 
  • Wages funded for 6 months 
  • Same entitlement to holiday pay as normal employers

If you are thinking about an apprenticeship or are an employer that would like more information, get in touch to find out more. 

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