Expansion of Foundation Apprenticeships

Up to 5,000 will start work-based training programme by 2019.

Thousands of young people will gain industry recognised qualifications, real-world work experience and access to work-based learning while still at school thanks to a massive expansion of the Foundation Apprenticeship programme unveiled today.

As part of the drive to improve attainment, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced that by the end of 2019, up to 5,000 young people will start a Foundation Apprenticeship, up from 351 starts during 2016-17.

Developed and delivered by Skills Development Scotland, Foundation Apprenticeships are undertaken while still at school, at the same time as pupils take traditional academic exams.  They offer young people the opportunity to gain a qualification while working with some of Scotland’s best-known employers in sectors such as engineering and software development.

Mr Swinney said:

“As part of our work to deliver excellence for all, we are working to widen access to university. But not every young person can or should go on to university.  That’s why we have been reforming vocational education and increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeships, hitting new records every year on the road to our target of 30,000 new starts by the end of this Parliament.

“We need the whole system to work together if we are going to make the scale of difference that is our ambition. And, we need to break down the barriers between the different parts of the system.

“That’s what our new Foundation Apprenticeships do. They are apprenticeships undertaken at school, with work-based learning, alongside academic exams. They are the chance to get a head start on a career by gaining industry-recognised qualifications, working on real projects and gaining the experience every employer looks for.

“So far, this innovative approach has been small scale while this ground breaking programme was developed. 350 Foundation Apprenticeships were started in 2016.

“We will now massively expand that number. By the end of 2019, 5,000 new start Foundation Apprenticeships will be available in Scotland’s schools, raising the attainment bar in vocational education and giving all our young people equal chances and choices to succeed at school and to succeed in life.”

Skills Development Scotland, Chief Executive, Damien Yeates said:

“Foundation Apprenticeships are a new and innovative way to equip young people with industry recognised qualifications and practical experience which meet industry demand and regional skills needs, both now and in the future.”



In August 2016 351 young people started a Foundation Apprenticeship and from August 2017 the number of places available will increase to 1,900. By the end of 2019, 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship places will be available for young people.  

Foundation Apprenticeships are developed and delivered by Skills Development Scotland with support from the European Social Fund. The programme sees pupils complete the qualification over two years, usually beginning in fifth year of school alongside studying for Highers and National 5 qualifications.

Foundation Apprenticeships offer work experience and a qualification in the following areas: business skills, civil engineering, creative and digital media, engineering, financial services, technology hardware, scientific technologies, social services and software development.


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