If you live in Scotland, you will have heard of modern apprenticeships and are likely wondering how they differ from the system across the rest of the UK. We will endeavour to answer some of the most common questions on this topic in the following article.
Are the Apprenticeship Levels Different in Scotland?
Unlike in other parts of the UK, Scotland has its own education system and a different way of doing things at most stages of it, including a separate curriculum and qualifications at secondary school and four-year Undergraduate degree courses at university rather than the three-year degree that is common in England and Wales.
The Scottish Parliament that sits at Holyrood, Edinburgh, controls the education system. It has been distinct from the other education systems of the UK ever since Scotland joined the UK in 1707. Scotland also has a separate legal system dating back to the same period. Solicitors must qualify separately to practice law in Scotland and England/Wales.
Scottish secondary school pupils follow the “Curriculum for Excellence” and receive National 3s, 4s and 5s and Highers/Advanced Highers as qualifications rather than A-Levels. The Scottish Qualifications Authority administers these. Knowing this, it should be no surprise to hear that the apprenticeship system is also different from that in other parts of the UK.
Rather than having four different levels of apprenticeship, Scotland only has three. They are Foundation Apprenticeships, Modern Apprenticeships and Graduate Apprenticeships. To learn more about the various tiers, you can go to the Skills Development Scotland apprenticeships portal.
What are the Eligibility Criteria for Modern Apprenticeships?
People aged between 16 and 24 can apply for a modern apprenticeship. You may require some qualifications to proceed, and these will usually be a minimum of three National 4s. Still, it depends on the individual employer and apprenticeship opportunity.
In Scotland, Modern Apprenticeship opportunities are available from public sector organisations such as Local Authorities and the NHS and private sector businesses. Apprenticeships can be an excellent and cost-effective way of bringing new talent into public sector positions.
There is a provision for some people who are older than 24 to get funding in certain circumstances, depending on which industry they select.
You won’t be eligible to apply for a funded modern apprenticeship if any of the following apply:
- You are at school, college or university full-time.
- You are an overseas national subject to an employment restriction or a time limit on your stay in Great Britain – or both. (But if you’re a refugee or asylum seeker, you can apply.)
- You are already on an employment, training or enterprise scheme funded by the Government or Skills Development Scotland.
- You are in custody as a prisoner or on remand.
How Many Modern Apprenticeships are Awarded Each Year?
Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland are part of the independent education system administered by the Scottish Government and their agencies, such as Skills Direct Scotland.
According to official Scottish Government figures, there are over 18,500 to just under 28,000 new modern apprenticeships on offer every year. However, this number was on the lower end of the scale during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as multiple lockdowns and public health restrictions prevented a lot of in-person interviews and work.
Many people expect this number to increase in the years to come as more employers look to take on apprentices to help them bounce back from the challenging years that have just passed.
How are Modern Apprenticeships Funded?
The Scottish Government pays employers through agencies such as Skills Development Scotland toward the cost of training and assessing apprentices. However, the amount of money available to the employers varies depending on the sector and the apprentices’ age.
Where apprentices are between 16-19, the amount of money paid to employers is higher than the 20-24 cohort.
Where people are disabled, care-experienced or both, there is an enhanced funding contribution up to age 29, which means the employer is paid the same rate as 16-19-year-olds.
What Level Are Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland?
The different apprenticeship levels across the UK can be a little confusing. Still, it is just an artefact of the complicated and convoluted constitutional settlement that includes various devolved Parliaments and Assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, there is not anything to be done to simplify the situation.
Where do Modern Apprenticeships rate in comparison to others across the UK? For example, Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland are below the Graduate level. They sit somewhere between Advanced and Higher apprenticeships and lower than Degree level.
How Should I Find Further Information?
The essential decision to apply for an apprenticeship is the same wherever you live in the UK. The vast majority of the information you require to do so is the same. One of the easiest ways to find an apprenticeship is to use a specialised jobs board. For example, our Employing an Apprentice website.
The leading portal for information on Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland is the Skills Development Scotland website. They have information on the different “frameworks” or job categories that potential apprentices can investigate.
At the time of writing, there were over 1,000 apprenticeship vacancies on the website, so there are many live opportunities for young people based in Scotland to pursue.
We also have many resources for aspiring apprentices, including information on attending careers fairs, writing cover letters and refining your CV. If you don’t find the information you are looking for, you can always contact us for more details, and we will do what we can to point you in the right direction.