group of students wearing overalls in workshop

Foundation Apprenticeships

Get a head start in your career.

Skills Development Scotland logoFoundation Apprenticeships (FAs) are an exciting new addition to the range of opportunities available to school pupils in the senior phase of school. Designed as a blend of college, school and work–based learning they give young people hands–on learning and practical experience in the world of work.

Each Foundation Apprenticeship has been designed in partnership with industry to make sure that young people get the sector relevant skills and knowledge needed to make the first steps on the career ladder.

An FA is on the same level of learning as an SQA Higher (SCQF level 6) and sits alongside other school–based qualifications as one of the student's Senior Phase options.

A Foundation Apprenticeship is normally delivered over two years, however there may be occasions where it can be completed in one year by pupils in S5 or S6. In order to complete this over one year, students will need to have between 12–15 hours per week available in their school timetable.

The structure for the two–year model is:

  • Year 1 — Equivalent of one day (6 hours) per week in a college classroom or workshop, working towards a qualification.
  • Year 2 — Equivalent of one day (6-8 hours) per week in an extended work placement working towards SVQ units. Students have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in a classroom setting to a practical, real-life working environment.

The one–year delivery model is the equivalent of two days per week with one day spent in the classroom or workshop, and one day on work placement.

Please note Engineering and Civil Engineering can only be delivered under the two-year model.

Who can enrol?

The two–year Foundation Apprenticeship is aimed at pupils about to start S5 who will be staying on at school until the end of S6 and are interested in progressing to future employment or Further or Higher Education in the subject area.

Pupils will stay on at school whilst completing the Foundation Apprenticeship, so will be able to continue studying for national qualifications at National 5 or Higher level.

The one–year Foundation Apprenticeship is a good option for students progressing to S6 who have space in their timetable to pursue the qualification over two days each week.


Completing a Foundation Apprenticeship programme opens up a wide range of opportunities for young people.

Modern Apprenticeship

A Modern Apprenticeship is a great option for young people who want to continue with work based learning. It allows them to "earn while they learn" while gaining valuable skills, knowledge and experience in a real workplace. Units completed via a relevant Foundation Apprenticeship can contribute to achieving a Modern Apprenticeship.

Find out more about Modern Apprenticeships at NESCol

Graduate Apprenticeship

A Graduate Apprenticeship allows young people to study towards degree or MSC level while working in full time paid employment. A Foundation Apprenticeship can provide a valuable bridge between school and further work based learning.

Find out about RGU's Graduate Apprenticeship programmes

Further Education

For young people who want to continue with their education, completion of a Foundation Apprenticeship, alongside other Highers achieved opens up the potential to study at HNC/HND level in a college.

Find out how your FA can help you progress to college delivered HNC/D's across Scotland here


A Foundation Apprenticeship is recognised as the equivalent to at least one Higher by all Scottish universities (please check with individual universities for entry criteria) and can be a valuable addition to any UCAS application. Young people who decide to progress on to college may alternatively decide to follow the articulation routes from HNC or HND studies onto university degree programmes.


A Foundation Apprenticeship can provide a head start when seeking employment. It's a real differentiator — it demonstrates that the young person has the practical skills and experience as well as the knowledge to perform effectively in a workplace.

More general information on Foundation Apprenticeships is available on the Skills Development Scotland website

Types of Foundation Apprenticeship

students working at a desk

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How to Apply

If you are interested in any of the Foundation Apprenticeship programmes being offered by NESCol in the coming Academic Year you should speak to your Guidance Teacher at school.

You will be asked to complete an application form and you may also be interviewed by College staff and representatives from the industries we will be working with. Applications for the 2019-21 intake are being accepted now.

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For more information, please contact:

Schools Liaison Team
Telephone: 01224 612393
Twitter: @NESColLinks

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