Apprenticeships in Wales
Apprenticeships in Wales are slightly different to those in England and Scotland, but the basic principles remain the same. You gain professional skills with employers with a combination of practical and academic learning, while still earning a wage. An apprenticeship is open to you if you are over 16, living in Wales and not in full-time education.
How are apprenticeships different in Wales?
The structure of apprenticeships in Wales are similar to those for England, but there are some differences. There are four levels – Foundation, Apprenticeship, Higher and Degree.
How long is an apprenticeship in Wales?
Apprenticeships in Wales take between one to four years to complete. A Degree apprenticeship will usually take four years, and Level 3 apprenticeships 2-3 years.
What types of apprenticeships in Wales are there?
Equivalent education level
5 GCSE passes at grades 4-9
Usually no formal qualifications needed
2 A-Level passes
Usually 3 GCSE passes
HNC, Foundation degree or 1st year of Undergraduate degree
Usually 5 GCSE passes, A-Levels, NVQ/SVQ or BTEC National
Full Honours degree
Usually 5 GCSE passes, A-Levels, NVQ/SVQ or BTEC National, with possibly some specific A-Level grades required for certain apprenticeships
Foundation (Level 2)
A Foundation Apprenticeship in Wales is similar to an Intermediate level apprenticeship in England, and leads to a Level 2 qualification. It should not be confused with a Scottish Foundation apprenticeship, which is for students before they leave school.
Usually no formal qualifications are needed for foundation apprenticeships, but some employers may insist on GCSE passes in English and Maths at certain grades. Being able to show enthusiasm and a willingness to complete the programme is just as important.
A Foundation apprenticeship can give you the skills to move onto a Level 3 apprenticeship, make you understand more about what you like about a job and give you more confidence as a person.
Apprenticeship (Level 3)
A Level 3 apprenticeship in Wales is equivalent to an Advanced apprenticeship in England. You will usually need at least three GCSE passes at grades 9-4, and some employers may insist on more or passes in specific subjects. Level 3 apprenticeships take 2-4 years, with one day a week for study time or a set block of time for college learning.
There are a huge range of opportunities for Level 3 apprenticeships right across Wales. Visit the Careers Wales website to search for vacancies in your area.
Higher (Level 4 to 5)
Higher apprenticeships in Wales are Level 4 to 5 qualifications and are broadly similar to Higher apprenticeships in England. They are equivalent in educational level to a HNC, Foundation degree or first year of an Honours degree.
Entry requirements vary, but most Higher apprenticeship schemes will need A-Level passes, a Level 3 apprenticeship, HNC or BTEC National diploma. Some employers may ask for passes in relevant subjects or previous work-based experience. Check the framework for Higher apprenticeships available on the Apprenticeship Certification Wales website.
You should also already be employed in the sector in which you wish to pursue a Higher apprenticeship, have the right to live and work in the UK and be employed 50% of your time in Wales.
Degree (Level 6)
A Degree Apprenticeship in Wales is similar to degree apprenticeships in England and Graduate apprenticeships in Scotland. Apprentices combine working for an employer with study at a university, leading to a qualification which is equivalent to an Honours degree.
The benefits of a Degree apprenticeship is that for students unsure of doing an apprenticeship or going to university can have the best of both worlds, while still earning a salary. Entry requirements for Degree apprenticeships are similar to those for traditional degrees, and will usually ask for two or three A-Level passes, with possibly some specific grades required for certain apprenticeships, an NVQ or BTEC National.
New Degree apprenticeships in Wales are being developed all the time, but they are currently being offered in ICT, digital, engineering and advanced manufacturing occupations. They are a Level 6 and 7 apprenticeship and are the most advanced apprenticeship it is possible to undertake in Wales.
How do I apply for an apprenticeship in Wales?
If you think an apprenticeship is right for you, and you live in Wales, visit the Welsh government’s apprenticeships website for more details about the various apprenticeship levels, entry requirements, case studies and to search for vacancies.