Support for apprenticeships

Industry endorsement for 30,000 Modern Apprenticeship target.

Scotland’s share of funding from the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy should be used to support the delivery of 30,000 Modern Apprenticeships starts by 2020, responses to a consultation have found.

The report on the recent consultation on the apprenticeship levy showed broad employer support for the Scottish Government’s Modern Apprenticeship (MA) targets and employer backing for the planned expansion of Foundation and Graduate Level Apprenticeships and employability and skills services.

Minister for Training and Employability Jamie Hepburn confirmed that in response to employer feedback:

  • ‎The number of Graduate Level Apprenticeships will be increased in 2017.
  • ‎Levy payers will have opportunities to shape the delivery of apprenticeship and employment programmes going forward.
  • ‎The Scottish Government will consider issues raised in the consultation around MA age limits and how to provide more flexibility.
  • Skills Development Scotland have been given the go ahead to contract for the delivery of Modern Apprenticeships in 2017/18, as the next stage of the phased expansion to 30,000 MA starts each year by 2020.

The Minister will meet with industry representatives and the newly established Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board to discuss the outcome of the consultation and how the levy will be spent in Scotland ahead of the Scottish Government’s budget proposals for 2017-18 being published in the Draft Budget.

The UK Government levy which is introduced in April 2017, will see larger employers pay 0.5% of their annual wage bill directly to the HMRC.

Mr Hepburn said:

“Our increase in Graduate Level Apprenticeships and commitment to involving employers in the development of apprenticeship and skills opportunities will help us develop a distinctly Scottish approach to the way we respond to the apprenticeship levy. 

“We have involved employers in every step of the process and kept them fully informed in our discussions because we want to make sure they feel the benefits of the levy, and don’t just see it as an unnecessary financial burden.  

“The UK Government forced this levy on Scotland without consultation however given the position we are now in, we have committed to developing an approach that is more flexible and broader than is currently being proposed in England, helps young people, meets the needs of businesses and supports inclusive economic growth.

“We will now work with employers to discuss the outcome of our consultation and our final proposals will be announced later this year.

“In Scotland we are seeing real success in supporting young people into work and making sure they have the right skills for the future. We surpassed our target to deliver 25,500 Modern Apprenticeship last year, which has now increased to 26,000 this year and it’s great to see employers supporting our ambitions to increase starts to 30,000 by 2020.”

Chair of Skills Development Scotland, John F McClelland CBE, said:

“Work-based learning and apprenticeships are vital to developing the skills needed now and in the future to support the Scottish economy.

“The introduction of Foundation Apprenticeships for school pupils and the development of Graduate Level Apprenticeships demonstrate the commitment to work-based learning from employers and education.

“The views of industry driving the development of apprenticeships in Scotland will ensure they are aligned with industry and economic need, Fair Work and job opportunities.”


Modern Apprenticeships offer anyone aged over 16 paid employment and the opportunity to work, learn and gain industry recognised qualifications across a range of sectors.

Foundation Apprenticeships and Graduate Level Apprenticeships build on this programme. Foundation Apprenticeships are available to pupils in fourth and fifth year, typically last for two years and are set at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 6.

Graduate Level Apprenticeships provide a new way into degree-level study for individuals who are currently employed, or who want to go straight into work. 


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