Reference year 2019

1Target group

Q6. Does the legal basis define the minimum and maximum age limits for enrolment of the target group of this scheme?
Minimum and maximum age limits defined
Minimum age limits defined only

There is no legal basis for Foundation Apprenticeship.  They have been designed to be offered in a partnership between the secondary school and a further education college.  Because they are taken in the final two years of school (post the compulsory leaving age), the minimum age is likely to be 15 or 16 when commencing and the maximum age upon completion will be 17 or 18, as it is a two year programme.  They will be undertaking academic qualifications such Highers as well as the Foundation Apprenticeship.

Q7. What is the average age of learners in practice?
Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24

Data on average age of learners on the different frameworks is not publicly available. However, given that Foundation Apprenticeships are undertaken by school pupils in the last 2 years of secondary school (see Q6), the age range will be from 15 through to 18. 

2Overview of the scheme

Q8. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?
Q9. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) administers the Scotland Apprenticeship Schemes (Programmes) on behalf of the Scottish Government, and these Schemes (Programmes) incorporate Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs), Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) and Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs).

Q10. When was the scheme introduced?
Long history (before 2000)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
New pathway (after 2012)

Foundation Apprenticeships were introduced as a pilot in 2014 and were fully rolled out in 2016 and have grown in numbers since this initial formal introduction in 2016.

Q11. How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?
Traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
School-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs

Foundation Apprenticeships were introduced to help young people gain valuable, real-world work experience and access vocational training while still at school (Upper secondary level). Foundation Apprenticeships respond to Scotland’s ambition to embed work-based learning as a more systematic and credible component of the last two years of secondary school (“senior phase”).

In so doing this will help them develop the skills, experience and knowledge they’ll need when they leave school.

Foundation Apprenticeships have been designed and developed with industry and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and are aligned to key sectors of the economy with current skills shortages and projected future jobs growth.  The Foundation Apprenticeship is delivered through partnerships between schools, a local college, or learning provider and local employers.

Q12. What are the sources of financing of the direct costs for the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?
Single employers hosting apprentices
Sectoral funds

The employer will cover the cost of the insurance for the young person whilst on placement with the employer. The FE college receives funding from Skills Development Scotland to deliver the off-the-job training. The cost of any on-the-job training will be met by the employer.

Q13. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?
Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

There are no financial incentives to companies that offer a work placement to Foundation Apprentices

Q14. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

Foundation Apprenticeships (FA) – Key Statistics…

2014-2016 pathfinder (pilot phase)[1]:
•          63 pupils started the initial FA pathfinder, delivered in nine schools within two Local Authorities.
2015-2017 pathfinder:
•          269 pupils started the second FA pathfinder, delivered in 78 schools within twenty Local Authorities. 

Cohort 1 (2016-2018) and Cohort 2 (2017-2019):
•          To date there have been 1,591 FA starts spanning two cohorts (excluding pathfinder cohorts). The ambition is to have 5,000 young people start an FA in academic year 2019/20.
•          There were 1,245 FA starts for cohort 2 (2017 - 2019). This is more than 3.5 times the 346 starts delivered in Cohort 1 (2016-2018).

For financial year, 2018-19, there were an average of 3,500 learners on the Foundation Apprenticeship scheme.


[1] With the pathfinder Foundation Apprenticeship, there was only one programme (Engineering) which was used to test the apprenticeship in terms of it content, duration, etc. As a result of the pathfinder a number of changes were made ie all Foundation Apprenticeship had to sit at SCQF level 6/EQF level 4

Q16. Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?
Formal VET qualification (which does not indicate the pathway)
Formal VET qualification (which indicates the pathway)
Formal apprenticeship qualification (journeyman, etc.)

Qualification certificates achieved via Foundation Apprenticeships comprise of some units from the relevant Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) or alternative Competence Based Qualification (which is the main qualification in the Modern Apprenticeship) and a National Certificate or National Progression Award in the same discipline. In addition to receiving their qualification certificates, Foundation apprentices also receive a commemorative certificate recording the completion of the Foundation Apprenticeship.

Q17. Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?
There is no NQF

Foundation Apprenticeships sit at SCQF level 6/EQF level 4. See 

Q19. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

For entry to Higher Education, Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have traditionally accepted Highers (a school qualification undertaken in S5 or S6). However, most HEIs in Scotland will count a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of the entry qualifications along with Highers.  



Q22. If the scheme is not implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, how is duration of apprenticeships defined in the regulation?
It Is defined as minimum and maximum share of a VET programme
Is defined as minimum share of a VET programme
Is defined as maximum share of a VET programme
Is not defined by regulation

A school pupil will typically undertake the Foundation Apprenticeship over a two-year period.

Skills Development Scotland sets out the requirements for the duration of the Foundation Apprenticeship and state that the duration should be two years. See for example the Foundation Apprenticeship programme (framework) document for Business Skills p4  

Q23. Is there a distinction between the training time and working time for the period spent at workplace, as per regulation?
Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
No, the legal framework makes no distinction

School pupils are not working therefore when they with the employer then this could be a mixture of training and/or performing the tasks that they would carry if they were in full time employment.

Skills Development Scotland expects that the first year of the Foundation Apprenticeship will be based in the class room for the National Progression Award or the National Certificate and that one day a week will be spent with an employer in the second year. See for example “The Work Placement” at…

5Alternation of work-based (in-company) training and school-based training

Q24. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?

Skills Development Scotland requires that the National Progression Award or the National Certificate is taught in the first year of the Foundation Apprenticeship. This is to provide the underpinning knowledge and understanding (theory) of the subject.  In the second year, the Foundation apprentice will spend one day per week with an employer where they will be able to practice their skills and by the end of the second year demonstrate that they are competent in a number of areas relating to the occupation. Please note that they will not be fully competent across all aspects of the occupation.  In a Foundation Apprenticeship, the young person only completes some of the units from the SVQ therefore they are not fully competent. The FA was designed in this way so that if they did undertake the Modern Apprenticeship they could complete it quicker as they would only have to complete those units that would be needed to complete the SVQ given that they had already achieved some via the FA.

Q25. Is the in-company training defined as minimum share of the apprenticeship scheme duration?
Yes, equivalent or more than 50% of scheme duration
Yes, between 20% and 50% of the scheme duration
Yes, less than 20% of the scheme duration
No, no minimum share is compulsory

 A Foundation Apprentice is expected to spend one day per week with an employer in the second year of their Foundation Apprenticeship.   

Q26. What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school?
Every week includes both venues
One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at school followed by one or more months at workplace
A longer period (1-2 years) spent at school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
Various – depends on agreements between the school and the company
Not specified

Year one of the apprenticeship is spent in the college and one day per week in the second year is spent with the employer.

6Formal relationship with the employer

Q27. Is any contractual arrangement between the learner and company, required as per regulation?

There is no contractual arrangement for Foundation Apprenticeships given that the young person is still in full time school education and is not employed by the employer.

Q28. What is the nature of the contractual arrangement?
Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
A formal agreement

Not applicable to Foundation Apprenticeships

Q29. Where is the contract or the formal agreement registered?
At the school
At the Ministry of employment
At the chambers
At the Ministry of education

Not applicable to Foundation Apprenticeships

Q30. What is the status of the learner?
Apprentice is a specific status

For Foundation Apprenticeships, the apprentice is still at Secondary School and is therefore a student.


Q31. Do apprentices receive a wage or allowance?
Yes, all apprentices receive a wage (taxable income)
Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
No form of compensation is foreseen by law

As Foundation Apprentices are school pupils and not employed, they receive neither a wage nor an allowance

Q32. How is the apprentice wage (taxable income) set?
By law (applying for all)
By cross-sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By firm-level collective agreements or individual agreements between apprentice and company

Not applicable

Q33. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?

Not applicable

Q34. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?
No, it covers only the time spent in the company

Not applicable

8Responsibility of employers

Q35. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?
Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
No, is not required formally

The Further Education College will work with the employer to develop a plan which covers how the employer will work with the apprentice as well as setting how and when the apprentice will be assessed.

Q36. What are the requirements on companies to provide placements, as per regulation?
Have to provide a suitable learning environment
Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer

With the Foundation Apprenticeships, this is a partnership between Secondary Schools, Further Education and Employers, with the employer providing a placement opportunity. Employers volunteer to participate in the programme and to provide a placement opportunity to enable the Foundation Apprentice to gain work experience and the opportunity to demonstrate their competence in some aspects of the occupation.  

Q37. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

Employer involvement in the Foundation Apprenticeship programme is voluntary.

SDS undertakes quality assurance monitoring of Foundation Apprenticeships. This includes ensuring that the colleges, private training providers and employer organisations which deliver Apprenticeship training programmes meet national quality assurance standards for national training programmes.  This is monitored on an ongoing basis.

Q38. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives, sectoral councils (if existent), in shaping apprenticeship content, as per regulation?
Role in designing qualification
Role in designing curricula
No role

Sector bodies work with employers, SDS and other stakeholders to develop FA frameworks. The sector bodies are typically Sector Skills Councils, although other types of organisations are involved. Foundation Apprenticeships are comprised of units from the SVQ or other Competence Based Qualification that align with a relevant Modern Apprenticeship programme and support progression into it. They also include a knowledge-based element in the form of a National Progression Award or National Certificate which is awarded by SQA.

Q39. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives in implementing the apprenticeship scheme, as per regulation?
Role in final assessment of apprentices
Role in accreditation of companies
Role in monitoring of the in-company training
No role

Delivery of Foundation Apprenticeships is via strategic partnerships involving learning providers (colleges and independent learning providers), schools, local authorities, employers and other partners as relevant.

Other partners could include e.g. awarding bodies, sector skills councils, trade unions.