Scottish apprenticeships entry requirements

Understand the different levels of apprenticeships available in Scotland, and their entry requirements.

There are three types of apprenticeship — entry depends on your skills and qualifications. 

If you start with a foundation or modern apprenticeship, you can progress your career and work your way up through the higher level apprenticeships, and even achieve a degree with an apprenticeship in some career areas. You can also progress on to further or higher education courses, including degrees and postgraduate courses.

Amy, Level 6 design engineering technical apprentice

My mum looked on the website and found the graduate scheme. A lot of my teachers thought it was too good to be true, but it’s the best of both worlds – getting experience as well as a university degree.

The table below details the entry requirements for each of the apprenticeship levels in Scotland.  

SCQF level Entry requirements
Foundation apprenticeship — the same level and credit value as two Scottish Highers SVQ 2  3/SCQF 5/6.

These are designed for S5 – S6 pupils to combine school learning, college learning, and work experience. They are studied alongside other school subjects.

Entry to each is different, but generally you should be working towards National 5 qualifications and have the capacity to work at SCQF Level 6. Depending on the foundation apprenticeship subject, you may need to be studying particular subjects.

A student undertaking a foundation apprenticeship is not employed.

Modern apprenticeship —available at these levels:

  • SCQF Level 5 – considered to be the same level as National 5.
  • SCQF Level 6/7 – considered to be the same level as two A level passes or Advanced Highers passes.
  • Technical apprenticeships at SCQF Level 8/9 – considered to be the same level as HND or DipHE.
  • Professional apprenticeships at SCQF Level 10/11 – considered to be at the same level as honours degree/master’s degree.

You may need three or more National 4s to apply for a modern apprenticeship (or Standard Grades at general level) depending on the framework you are doing. Depending on the job role and the qualifications you already have, you might be able to start at a higher level.

Check apprenticeship vacancies to see if there are any specific subjects and grades you need to have.

Graduate level apprenticeship (GLA) —  available at SCQF Levels 8,10 and 11. These new work-based learning programmes enable apprentices doing the Level 10 apprenticeship to achieve a full honours degree as part of it. You will do this in work, but also have some university attendance. 

If you are doing a Level 8 apprenticeship, you're likely to get a Diploma of Higher Education or an HND/SVQ 4, depending on which college or university you go to.

The levels available are equivalent to a full degree, through to a postgraduate Level 11 award, which can allow progression to a master's degree

Entry requirements vary depending on the specific job and apprenticeship framework. Most will be looking for similar qualifications to those required for a degree course. Some will expect or require you to have subjects related to the particular apprenticeship. Check apprenticeship vacancies to see if there are any specific subjects and grades you need.

However, graduate-level apprenticeship entry requirements are designed to recognise a candidate’s skills and experience, as well as qualifications. If you do not have the formal qualifications listed, this is not necessarily a barrier to entry – get in touch with the university or college to discuss your situation.

What you need depends on the GLA programme, and the university or college delivering it. However, any previous industry experience will be taken into consideration, alongside any formal qualifications you hold. For example, universities can offer flexibility to people who have already completed other work-based learning qualifications – e.g. a modern apprenticeship – and want to progress to a GLA in the same subject area.

Each apprenticeship vacancy will set out the entry requirements and qualities the employer is looking for. Entry requirements are designed to recognise a candidate’s skills and experience, as well as qualifications. If you do not have the formal qualifications listed, it does not necessarily mean you won't be accepted. It’s always worth contacting the college or university to discuss your situation.