Scottish Government response to the UK Government apprenticeship levy

Sets out how we plan to develop a distinctly Scottish approach to apprenticeships and wider skills development.

Widening the Apprenticeship Offers

The Scottish Youth Employment Strategy: Developing the Young Workforce is focussed on providing a wider range of vocational education opportunities starting in school with enhanced employer involvement.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Our recent consultation therefore explored whether Levy funding should be used to support the expansion of Foundation Apprenticeships. Foundation Apprenticeships are designed to help young people gain valuable, real-world work experience and access work-based learning while they are still at school.

The responses indicated strong support for levy funding being used to expand Foundation Apprenticeships, both for the benefit of individuals and the benefit of employers. The views from the consultation highlighted the value that Foundation Apprenticeships can bring in helping young people prepare for work, increasing relevant skills while in a work-based setting. This helps enhance their employment prospects in addition to improving confidence and self-esteem, and in many cases providing the first step for progression into a Modern Apprenticeship pathway once they leave school.

The consultation also provided employer endorsement around the benefits that they can gain from Foundation Apprenticeships. In particular there was recognition that Foundation Apprenticeships will help employers engage with, recruit and retain young people. The new offer also presents the opportunity to help address skills gaps and shortages in addition to helping to promote equality and inclusion, addressing under-representation and improving workforce diversity.

In response, the Scottish Government has committed to support the further expansion of Foundation Apprenticeships in Scotland during 2017-18. We will provide Skills Development Scotland with support to deliver 3,000 new Foundation Apprenticeship starts in the next academic year, providing more young people and employers with the opportunity to benefit from these exciting new opportunities.

Graduate Level Apprenticeship

The consultation also asked if Levy funding should be used to support growth in the number of Graduate Level Apprenticeships.

Graduate Level Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to develop a new way into degree-level study for individuals who are currently employed, or who want to go straight into work. Apprentices can progress to the highest level of professional qualifications with a range of entry and exit points from a Higher National Diploma (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 8) to a Master's degree (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 11).

The responses to the consultation showed resounding support for this, as a measure that would meet the needs of employers allowing them to develop skills in their own workforce, or increase the range of higher or technical skills available to them as an employer.

The growth in Graduate Level Apprenticeships will help match individuals and their skills to actual business requirements, enabling employers to grow their own highly skilled talent internally, with the potential benefit of improving staff recruitment and retention. In addition to providing an alternative route for young people to work towards rewarding high skilled employment, Graduate Level Apprenticeships have the potential improve innovation and productivity.

In 2017-18 we will continue to expand the Graduate Level Apprenticeship offer in Scotland. Skills Development Scotland is currently finalising its tender exercise for the development and delivery of at least 125 new Graduate Level Apprenticeship starts in the coming year in partnership with industry and a range of Higher Education Institutions across Scotland.

Advice on how to get involved in Foundation or Graduate Level Apprenticeships is available on our dedicated Apprenticeship website at


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