Apprenticeships in Scotland

Everything you need to know about apprenticeships in Scotland, including what levels are available, entry requirements, and more.

Wondering what an apprenticeship is like?

Hear from Kieran about what life is like as an apprentice in parks, gardens, and green spaces with East Lothian Council.

Unlike at school, college or on a traditional degree course, an apprenticeship means most of your learning will be through on-the-job training in your place of work. An apprenticeship might be a good option if you like the idea of hands-on learning as well as some classroom-based study.

Discover which industry might suit you

Interested in an apprenticeship but not sure what you want to do? Get to know the different industries offering apprenticeships, from marketing to architecture and business management to engineering.

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What apprenticeships are available in Scotland?

There are over 80 apprenticeships available in Scotland. These are sometimes referred to as frameworks. You can use an apprenticeship to enter a wide range of careers in anything from engineering or software development to accountancy or marketing.

There are three types of apprenticeship available:

If you’re taking a foundation apprenticeship, you’re not employed. You take it alongside your Highers and National 5s. With modern and graduate apprenticeships, you are employed. To be considered for a modern or graduate level apprenticeship programme in Scotland, you need to be:

  • Aged 16 or over
  • Living in Scotland
  • Not in full-time education

Entry requirements for apprenticeships in Scotland

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.

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.

Entry requirements are different in each sector, but generally you should be working towards National 5 qualifications and have the capacity to work at SCQF Level 6. 

Foundation apprenticeships are designed for S5 – S6 pupils to combine school/college learning and work experience, so you may need to be taking relevant subjects depending on the industry you apply for.

Modern apprenticeships —available at:

  • 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 generally need three or more National 4s to apply for a modern apprenticeship (or standard grades at general level) depending on the apprenticeship you’re doing. 

Depending on the role and the qualifications you already have, you might be able to start at a higher level.
 

Graduate level apprenticeships (GLA) - available at:

  • SCQF Level 8 – you're likely to get a Diploma of Higher Education or an HND/SVQ 4, depending on which college or university you go to.
  • SCQF Level 10 – equivalent to an undergraduate degree
  • SCQF Level 11- equivalent to a master's degree

Entry requirements vary depending on the specific role. Most look for similar qualifications to those required for a degree course, sometimes in relevant subjects. 

GLA entry requirements recognise skills and experience, as well as qualifications. If you don’t have the formal qualifications needed, you may still be able to do the apprenticeship. Any previous industry experience will be taken into consideration, as well as other apprenticeships or work-based learning qualifications.

Get in touch with the university or college to discuss your situation.

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

Discover employers offering apprenticeships

Liking the sound of an apprenticeship but not sure where to begin looking? Get to know leading brands and the range of apprenticeships they offer. Everything from finance to engineering, and data analysis to project management.

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International students

If you’re an international student thinking about applying for an apprenticeship in Scotland, you’ll need to be a resident, eligible to work in Scotland and have the necessary visas. If you have any questions about applying as an international student, you should contact the university/college and employer to check your eligibility criteria.
 
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