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Scheme fiche

Modern Apprenticeships

United Kingdom / Scotland

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Reference Year 2019

Target 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

Modern Apprenticeships are aimed at those aged 16 and over providing that the apprentice is in employment.

Q7. What is the average age of learners in practice?

Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24


With regards to Modern Apprenticeships, official published statistics for starts in 2018/19[1]:
- 16-19 yrs – 11,720
- 20 – 24 yrs - 6,710
- 25+ yrs – 8,840



Overview 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 Scottish Government, including Modern Apprenticeships (MAs).

Q10. When was the scheme introduced?

Long history (before 2000)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
New pathway (after 2012)

Modern apprenticeships were introduced in the mid 1990s and are well established. As of January 2019, there are over 80 apprenticeship programmes[1] (“frameworks” in the Scottish policy) available to employers and apprentices. The approved apprenticeship programmes can be found at


[1] In Scotland, an individual apprenticeship is referred to as a framework given that the apprenticeship comprises of a number of qualifications which are then described in a Framework Document

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

Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) were originally developed to meet employers' demands for vocationally related qualifications with a job-specific content which could largely be delivered through workplace-based training

Modern apprenticeships offer people aged 16 and over the opportunity to gain an industry designed and nationally recognised qualification while in paid employment.

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

For Modern Apprenticeships, Skills Development Scotland administers the public funding contribution towards the training costs. The contribution is paid directly to the organisation which will provide the training of the apprentice, this would normally be a college or an independent training provider.  The contribution rate is structured by programme (framework), age and level and is prioritised to support outcomes within the Scottish Government’s skills and economic strategies. 

To be able to access public funding for any Modern Apprenticeship training, all candidates regardless of age would need to be employed by a company. Employers are responsible for paying wages and any equipment required.

Scottish Government policy is to provide a contribution towards modern apprenticeship training based on a series of variables, with employers expected to make a contribution to additional costs of training.

For those aged between 16 and 24, the contribution rates vary from £1700 (Business Administration) to £10,200 (Engineering) [1]

For those aged 25 and over, the contribution rate varies from £400 (Rail Engineering) to £8000 (Engineering)[2].

Travel and Subsistence:

There is some additional funding to support travel and subsistence for Modern Apprentices who are required to attend structured and formal off-the-job training, as set out within the requirements of the Modern Apprenticeship programme (framework). The additional funding supports travel to training and overnight accommodation where appropriate. Only Apprentices resident in the following local authority areas are eligible: Argyll & Bute; Highland; Moray; Orkney; Shetland; Western Isles; and Isle of Arran.

Rural Supplement:

There is a supplementary payment of between £250 - £1000 (dependent on the duration and size of the apprenticeship) for training providers to recognise the additional costs for training provision for Modern Apprentices in rural communities. This additional support for apprenticeships based in Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Highland, Moray, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Shetland, the Western Isles, Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders and the Isle of Arran. For the rest of Scotland, the rural uplift is based on whether the post code of the employer’s premises is classed as 'Remote Rural' or 'Remote Small Towns' by the Scottish Government's Urban/Rural Classification.




Q13. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?

Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

Modern Apprenticeships:

Adopt an Apprentice - If an employer takes on an apprentice who's been made redundant, - both if the apprentice is no longer in work because there is no more work available or because the employer goes out of business and all employees including the apprentices are made redundant - there's a financial incentive. If the business is in the oil and gas industry, the incentive is £5,000 and for all other industries it’s £2,000.

Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive – Employers could get up to £4,000 if they recruit as an apprentice a young person who has faced significant barriers to employment.


See Annex A of

Q14. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

For the financial year April 2018 to March 2019[1], there were 27270 starts on the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme (Programme)

This is broken down by level of the programme (framework) as follows:

Level of Programme (Framework) - No of Starts

SCQF level 5 (EQF level 3) - 7,671

SCQF level 6 (EQF level 4) - 10,421

SCQF level 7 (EQF level 5) - 7,216

SCQF level 8 (EQF Level 5) - 723

SCQF level 9 (EQF level 6) - 932

SCQF levels 10 (EQF level 6) - 32

SCQF level 11 (EQF level 7) - 169

Besides publicly funded apprenticeships, there are also privately funded apprentices but it is not possible to know how many there are, given that there is no requirement to register the apprentices in a central database or equivalent. There are also some UK wide employers who offer the English apprenticeship in Scotland and, for them too, there is no way of collecting that data.

In the financial year 2018/19 there were an average of 36,000 learners on the Modern Apprenticeship scheme.



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.)

Modern Apprenticeships – the main mandatory qualification in the Modern Apprenticeships is a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ). In some sectors, where the SVQ is not valued by the sector, an alternative competency based qualification (CBQ) can be used.  In addition to the SVQ (or CBQ), the MA Programme (Frameworks) at SCQF levels 5 to 7 (EQF levels 3-5) includes Work Place Core Skills (numeracy, literacy, ICT, Working with Others and Problem Solving).  For MA Programmes (Frameworks) at SVQF levels 8 (EQF level 5) and above, there is a range of Career Skills units.

The sector may decide that in addition to the SVQ (or CBQ) that additional qualifications are required and these may be either mandatory or voluntary. 

In addition to receiving their qualification certificates, Modern apprentices also receive a commemorative certificate recording the completion of the Modern Apprenticeship.

Q17. Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?

There is no NQF

Depending upon the apprenticeship programme (framework) the qualification will sit between SCQF level 5 (EQF level 3) and SCQF level 12 (EQF level 8).

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




Q21. If the scheme is implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, what is its duration?

Each apprenticeship (framework) document now sets out what the expected minimum duration to be.  For some apprenticeships eg Customer Service, Retail, this is 12 months. For more technical apprenticeships eg Engineering, Construction Craft, this can be 36 to 48 months. However, apprentices can complete the programme in a shorter time.  

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

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

Off-the-job training is not compulsory but if it is foreseen by the apprenticeship programme, it is distinct from working and can take place in the employer’s premises or at a Further Education College or training provider.

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

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


If the sector determines that there is no off-the-job training then the sector body, working with the sector is required to specify in the apprenticeship programme (framework) document how the underpinning knowledge and theory will be delivered.  Off-the-job training can be delivered at the employer’s premises or at a Further Education College or training provider.

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

On-the-job training varies across the apprenticeship programmes (frameworks) and there is no mandatory requirement to specify how much on-the-job training is required.  For some apprenticeship programmes, on-the-job training could be almost all of the programme whilst for other it could be 50% of the programme.

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

This is not specified within the apprenticeship (frameworks) in Scotland. This will be discussed and negotiated between the employer and the training provider and will vary across the apprenticeship programmes (frameworks). In most cases, such agreement will be on an individual basis. However, there are some exceptions to this: some of the more traditional apprenticeships are more structured. For example, in Construction Crafts (e.g. bricklaying, carpentry and joinery) the apprentices spend all of their first year in a Further Education College, most of their second year in College with some time at their employer, and all of their third and fourth years with their employer.

Formal relationship with the employer

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


All Modern Apprentices have an employment contract with their employer. For Modern Apprenticeships funded by Skills Development Scotland there is a requirement for an Individual Training Plan agreed and signed by the employer, the apprentice and the training provider or Further Education College.

If an employer chooses to privately fund an apprenticeship then they do not have to comply with the rules set out for Modern Apprenticeships other than the apprentice must be employed.

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

All Modern Apprentices are required to be employed. They can be recruited as a Modern Apprentice ie the vacancy being advertised is for a Modern Apprentice in eg Plumbing. Or they could be an existing employee Modern Apprentices are entitled to the same rights as other employees. As such, Modern Apprentices are entitled to rights such as statutory Maternity Leave, as well as an allowance of 20 days holiday per year plus bank holidays. Apprentices over 19, who have been in their apprenticeship for over a year are also entitled minimum wage for their age group.

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

The contract of employment will be held by the employer with the apprentice receiving a copy.

The Individual Training Plan is held by the training provider and monitored by Skills Development Scotland in the case of publicly funded apprenticeships.

Q30. What is the status of the learner?

Apprentice is a specific status

For Modern Apprenticeships, the apprentice is an employee.


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

For Modern Apprenticeships, the UK Government sets the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage. It also sets the Apprentice Rate (the minimum wage for apprentices) which is applicable to those under the age of 19 or over 19 and in the first year of their apprenticeship[1].



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

National Minimum wage (NMW) regulations are a reserved matter for the UK Government, therefore the Scottish Government has no enforcement remit but remains committed to promoting fair work throughout Scotland and fully support payment of the real Living Wage and the real benefits to our economy of treating people who work more fairly.

Scotland Modern Apprenticeship rules state that training providers must advise both the participant and the employer of the obligations they are signing up to including information regarding the apprentice national minimum wage.

Many employers recognise the value of the apprentice to their business and choose to pay higher wages than the National Minimum Wage.

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


Employers pay the apprentices their wage.

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

The contract of employment should specify the number of working hours per week and time spent on off-the-job training is part of the working week[1]



Responsibility 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

As stated above, Skills Development Scotland requires that there is an Individual Training Plan in place between the employer, the apprentice and the training provider or Further Education College for publicly funded apprenticeships. 

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

As Modern Apprentices are employees, the employer is required to ensure that it provides the apprentice with the facilities, training and work place opportunities necessary to achieve the selected Framework outcomes specified in the apprentice’s Individual Training Plan.

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


Skills Development Scotland undertakes on-going quality assurance monitoring of the delivery of the Modern Apprenticeships. This includes ensuring that the colleges, private training providers and employers who deliver Apprenticeship training programmes meet national quality assurance standards for national training programmes. A provider who does meet the quality standards may have their contract to deliver apprenticeships terminated.

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 – typically these are Sector Skills Councils although other types of organisations are also involved. The Sector Bodies develop National Occupational Standards (NOS) which underpin SVQs and alternative Competence Based Qualifications.  When developing or reviewing NOS, the Sector Bodies are required to consult with industry (the consultation must include individual employers but can also include Trade Associations) and ensure that industry is content with the content of the NOS.

Once the NOS have been approved, the Sector Body will develop the structure for the SVQ or the CBQ.  Again, it is required to consult with industry regarding the structure of the qualification, and it is also required to include Awarding Bodies in this consultation to ensure that the structure is a meaningful structure and that there are no barriers to an individual undertaking the qualification.  Once the structure has been agreed by industry and awarding bodies, it is submitted to SQA Accreditation for approval.

Sector bodies also develop the Modern Apprenticeship framework. In so doing, the sector bodies again consult with the industry with regards to the contents of the framework. In addition, they must also consult with the relevant Trade Unions to get their support for the framework.  Once it has both employer support and Trade Union support, the framework is submitted to the Modern Apprenticeship Group for approval.

SQA Accreditation is the national accreditation body in Scotland and has a regulatory role. It approves awarding bodies and accredits qualifications (other than degrees. SVQs must be accredited by SQA Accreditation as are those CBQs which form the mandatory component of a Modern Apprenticeship. Once the SVQ or CBQ structure has been approved, awarding bodies approved by SQA Accreditation can develop the structure into a qualification and submit the qualification for accreditation.

Awarding Bodies design and develop qualifications and approve Further Education Colleges and training providers to deliver and assess the qualifications.  Awarding Bodies are responsible for the quality assurance of the qualifications and to ensure that the assessments conducted by the Further Education Colleges and Training Providers are of an appropriate standard.

SQA Accreditation regulates the Awarding Bodies and accredited qualifications by conducting audits of the Awarding Bodies and carrying out monitoring visits to a sample of each Awarding Bodies approved providers.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national skills body for Scotland. It delivers a range of services to individuals and employers across the country. These include:
•         providing  the national Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) service
•         managing and developing the Scottish apprenticeship scheme
•         working with employers to support and respond to their skills needs
•         developing a robust evidence base to articulate the current and future skills demands of Scotland and ensure that skills investment is evidence-based and aligned with skills demand
•         managing a range of employability programmes to support individuals to take their first steps into the labour market, or to make successful career changes and progression 

The above describes the current situation with regards to the design, development, assessment and certification of apprenticeships. However, there are plans to change some aspects of this within the near future.

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

Employers are responsible for employing the apprentices, supporting delivery of work based learning and in some cases assessing delivery (if they have in house assessors to undertake this)  

Normally the assessment of the qualifications is carried out by the Further Education Colleges or Training Providers that have been approved by the Awarding Bodies offering the qualifications in the apprenticeship framework, However, employers can also be approved by an Awarding Body as a Training Provider, providing that they meet the Awarding Body’s requirements. Most choose not and will work with a Further Education College or Training Provider to deliver and assess the qualification on their behalf.  However, employers can still be involved in the assessment process by providing Expert Witnesses or by providing Witness Testimonies to supplement the assessment carried out by the Further Education Colleges or Training Providers.

In addition, where on-the-job training is included within the apprenticeship, then employers will be required to ensure that they have the necessary resources and staff to be able to carry out the on-the-job training.