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Apprenticeships in Scotland

Apprenticeships in Scotland are different to those in England and Wales, but the basic principles remain the same. School leavers, students still at school or graduates already in full-time employment can gain professional skills with employers and develop their careers with a combination of practical and academic learning, while still earning a wage.

How are apprenticeships different in Scotland?

Scottish apprenticeships are administered by Skills Development Scotland and there are some differences with the apprenticeships available in the rest of the UK. There are three levels of apprenticeship - Foundation, Modern and Graduate. The most significant difference is that students can begin an apprenticeship while still at school in Scotland.

How long is an apprenticeship in Scotland?

The three levels of apprenticeships take varying amounts of time to complete. A foundation apprenticeship takes up to two years as part of a student’s last two years of schooling.

A Modern Apprenticeship can take up to three years, and a Graduate Apprenticeship three to five years, depending on the length of your degree course.

What types of apprenticeships in Scotland are there?


SQA education level


Scottish National 4/5 or Higher 6


Higher 6, Advanced Higher 7, Awards, Scottish Baccalaureate


Professional Development Awards 9-11


Foundation Apprenticeships help students still at school gain industry experience. They are for students in S5 or S6 who want to get a head start when they leave school, or see which career they like the most. Foundation Apprenticeships are not paid – they offer students work-based learning but are taken alongside National 5s and Highers. A Foundation Apprenticeship is a recognised qualification that can support an application for a modern or Graduate Apprenticeship.

Twelve subjects are available at SCQF level 6, including Accountancy, Civil Engineering, Financial Services, Creative and Digital Media and Scientific Technologies. Three subjects are available at level 4/5: Automotive, Construction and Hospitality.


Modern Apprenticeships are for school leavers or those aged 16 and over, and are designed to help you gain skills, experience and qualifications in your chosen industry. Modern Apprenticeships offer a salary and there are over 100 Modern Apprenticeships to choose from. Start your search today!

Applicants for Modern Apprenticeship positions would be expected to have National 5 grade passes at level C or above in Maths and English, as well as specific subjects related to the job. Construction  Modern Apprenticeships include roles in civil engineering, plumbing and heating, health and safety and building surveying.


Graduate Apprenticeships are for people aged 16 or over who will be able to combine working for an employer and being paid a salary with studying for a degree-level qualification.

Entry onto a Graduate Apprenticeship is similar to the requirements for an undergraduate degree, and will vary by course and institution. However, you will need to be resident in Scotland in order to apply, and have the right to live and work in Scotland too. It would also be desirable to have previously completed a Foundation Apprenticeship.

There are Graduate Apprenticeship opportunities available in a wide range of industries, from Construction and the Built Environment to Data Science and Engineering.  

How do I apply for an apprenticeship in Scotland?

If you think an apprenticeship is right for you, and you live in Scotland, visit the Apprenticeships.scot website for more details about the various apprenticeship levels, entry requirements, case studies and to search for vacancies.

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