Understanding the “Apprenticeship Family” in Scotland


Over 28,000 young people in Scotland started an apprenticeship in 2018 and that figure has continued to increase each year. Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Scottish Government had the target of achieving 30,000 new apprenticeship starts every year by 2020.

The Covid 19 pandemic has also changed the future of the world of work, and both the national and devolved governments see apprenticeships as a way to recover the economy. Not Going to Uni has also discussed what changes you may see resulting from the pandemic.

Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular alternative to further or higher education, but what is an apprenticeship, and how does it differ in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK?

Apprenticeships in Scotland

Apprenticeships in Scotland are different from other parts of the UK. Apprenticeships are a devolved matter and so Scottish apprenticeships are designed and managed by the Scottish government.  There are some key differences you need to know when searching for apprenticeships to help you understand what is available and to avoid any confusion!

The terminology is one example of the difference. In Scotland, we have graduate apprenticeships but in England, they are referred to as degree apprenticeships.

In Scotland, there are also four types of apprenticeships available, including apprenticeships you can undertake whilst still at school. Read on to find out more!

Foundation Apprenticeships

Foundation Apprenticeships are a work-based learning opportunity for senior-phase secondary school pupils.  

Lasting one or two years, young people will spend some time at college or with a local employer, and complete the Foundation Apprenticeship alongside their other school subjects like National 5s and Highers.

Completion leads to a qualification at the same level of learning as a Higher and can lead to progression on to a job, such as a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship.

Foundation Apprenticeships are recognised as entry qualifications by all Scottish colleges and universities.

Pathway Apprenticeship

If you recently left school, are up to 18 years old, are unemployed and not receiving benefits, then you could undertake a Pathway Apprenticeship. The Pathway Apprenticeship programme was created for school leavers who are facing fewer options due to the economic impact of Covid 19. Around 1,200 opportunities will be available to young people in the first phase.

A Pathway Apprenticeship is a short programme of 26 weeks duration to help you prepare for the world of work. This can be extended for participants who are disabled or care experienced.

Participants will receive a £100 weekly allowance. You'll gain an industry-recognised qualification and improve your prospects of employment or further apprenticeship opportunities.

Modern Apprenticeships

With a Modern Apprenticeship, you get a job, you get paid and you get qualified.

You are just like any other employee but you will be alternating your time between work and study. This means you will be able to put your skills into practice straight away.

Modern Apprenticeships are often perceived as only being mechanics, plumbers, builders or electricians, but now you can undertake Modern Apprenticeships in a broader range of sectors including financial services, or the creative sector. Employers who take on Modern Apprentices have included the NHS, Visit Scotland, BBC Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Graduate Apprenticeships

With a Graduate Apprenticeship, you would also be an employee but not only will you be earning a wage, you'll be spending some of your time at university, working towards a degree.

Individuals who participate in the scheme are able to access the same learning opportunities as those who go down the traditional route of direct entry into college or university.

Apprentices can progress to the highest level of professional qualifications with a range of entry and exit points from a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8)) to a Master’s degree (SCQF level 11).

The apprenticeships are part funded by participating employers, which means they are only available to their employees.

Graduate Apprenticeships opportunities are available in key industries including business management, engineering and financial services. Employers who have recruited Graduate Apprentices have included Barclays Bank and Morrison’s supermarket.

Am I too old for an apprenticeship?

There is no upper age limit to become an apprentice in Scotland, although funding differs if you are over 24 years of age. If you are care experienced or are disabled, full funding for your apprenticeship training is available up to the age of 29.

How much will you be paid?

The amount paid to employed apprentices, as for all employees, is negotiated with the employer. Pay rates vary between sectors, regions and between different employers. There are also different rates of pay depending on your age and what year of your apprenticeship you’re in.

Aged 16 to 18

The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.15 per hour.

Aged 19 or over and in your first year

The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.15 per hour.

Aged 19 or over and have completed your first year

You’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage for your age.

How do you apply for an apprenticeship in Scotland?

Applying for an apprenticeship is similar to applying for a regular job. You may have to register on www.apprenticeships.scot and fill out an online application form. You may also be expected to submit a CV and covering letter. Apprenticeships in Scotland are advertised all year round.

Not Going to Uni also has some helpful tips on how to find an apprenticeship.

Impact of Covid 19

The Covid 19 pandemic has hit young people particularly hard, especially apprentices who are starting out in their careers. Their learning experience has also changed and apprentices may feel quite lonely and isolated. Apprentices are employees too and thus employers have a responsibility for their wellbeing.

In response to the impact the pandemic has had on all aspects of the economy, education and society, with young people being disproportionally affected, Skills Development Scotland has launched a national campaign encouraging employers to retain and recruit apprentices.  

The campaign aims to demonstrate that apprenticeships are a proven way for employers to develop talent and gain real business benefits and can be part of the solution to provide employers with the skills they need to adapt, sustain and strengthen their business.  

Skills Development Scotland also have a yearly Scottish Apprenticeship week whereby they not only encourage employers to recruit apprentices, but encourage young people to consider undertaking apprenticeships. Parents, carers, teachers and lecturers are also encouraged to learn more.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2021

Scottish Apprenticeship Week will take place between 1st-5th March 2021. It’s the ideal opportunity for young people to attend apprenticeship fayres – many of these will now be online due to Covid 19. There will also be lots of employer events and the chance to speak with careers advisers

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2021 is a time to share the value apprenticeships can bring to individuals, employer and the economy.  This year’s theme is Business Backing Talent, to showcase the great things that happen when employers back talent through apprenticeships.  

You can find out more about Scottish Apprenticeship Week here.  If you follow the hashtag #ScotAppWeek21, you will see many employers and training providers advertising their apprenticeship vacancies, not to mention stories from current and previous apprentices sharing their experiences.

If you want to discover more about apprenticeships in Scotland, visit apprenticeships.scot or www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Not Going to Uni also advertises apprenticeship and you can search for a vacancy here

Author: Kirsteen Allison



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