Parents / Carers

What is it?

A Foundation Apprenticeship is a new type of apprenticeship that helps young people get qualified through work experience and work-based learning. Usually they take it as one of their S5 subject choices and work towards a qualification over one or two years. It’s the same qualification level of learning as a Higher, but unlike other subjects, a Foundation Apprenticeship takes pupils out of the classroom and gets them working on real projects with a real business. They spend time at school and get training with an employer and with your local West Highland College.

Earlier exposure to the world of work will help your child develop the skills, experience and competence they’ll need when they leave school. It’s an approach that’s already proven to work well in other European countries with apprenticeships and work-based learning integral to school systems in countries including Germany and Switzerland. These countries also boast the lowest recorded youth unemployment rates in Europe.

Foundation Apprenticeships provide qualifications which are at the same level of learning as a Higher (SCQF Level 6). There are three key components to a Foundation Apprenticeship:

  • Developing knowledge
  • Gaining skills
  • Demonstrating competence in the workplace

This means time out of school working with a learning provider, such as a college, and with a local employer. Foundation Apprenticeships are linked to key sectors of the Scottish economy where there is evidence of employer demand. In other words, where there will be jobs in the future.

Upon completion of a Foundation Apprenticeship young people are better prepared to progress into a job, including entry into a related Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship or to go on to further or higher learning.

A Foundation Apprenticeship gives your child the combination of an industry recognised qualification and valuable work place experience in some of Scotland’s most exciting industries, all with projected growth in jobs. Already pupils have been taken on by the companies they did their Foundation Apprenticeship with, so they are an excellent way to get a foot in the door with a top employer.

Who is it for?

Foundation Apprenticeships are for pupils making decisions about which subjects they’ll study in S5 and S6. In general they are suited to pupils who:

  • Are capable of working at SCQF Level 6 – the same level of learning as a Higher.
  • Want to try an alternative way to learn, not just in the classroom.
  • Have an interest in developing greater awareness of a specific industry with an aspiration of pursuing a career in that area.

As we scale Foundation Apprenticeships as a senior phase option across all schools, this provides an opportunity to raise attainment and achievement across a wide range of young people.

FAs have the opportunity to enable a broad range of young people to gain an SCQF level 6 qualification through a work based learning approach and access a range of positive post-school destinations and pathways to a future career.

Foundation Apprenticeships widen the range of positive progression routes and post school destinations into employment including Modern Apprenticeships, Graduate Apprenticeships, Further Education and Higher Education.

Foundation Apprenticeships are available in a range of industries that have excellent job prospects. Here are the subjects they are currently available in:

How does my child get involved?

You or your child can visit West Highland College to find out more. You can both hear from other Foundation Apprentices and find out more about the types of apprenticeships available in their school. West Highland College will talk them through the next steps and make sure it’s right for them.


  • Get an industry-recognised qualification: your child works towards a qualification at the same level of learning as a Higher.
  • Get experience: your child gets to realise what it’s like to work in a real job while still at school.
  • Widely recognised: a qualification that’s recognised and accepted by all of Scotland’s colleges and universities.
  • Complements their school learning: it’s an integrated part of their school timetable and so fits alongside their other subject choices.
  • Designed by employers: so you can be sure that their Foundation Apprenticeship is helping them develop skills and knowledge that employers are looking for.
  • Focused on growth industries: Foundation Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of growth industries that offer strong career prospects for your child for the future.

Benefits (rational)

  • Helps your child get a job or an Apprenticeship with skills and experience employers need.
  • Make their CV stand out: They could enter the jobs market: their practical experience, work-readiness and new skills can give them an advantage over other candidates.
  • Gain accelerated entry to a Modern Apprenticeship, if it’s in the same subject area as their Foundation Apprenticeship and go on to a Graduate Apprenticeship, working for an employer while studying for a degree.

Benefits (emotional)

  • Build confidence: armed with new skills, industry-recognised qualification and a track record of practical experience, your child will have excellent options on completing a Foundation Apprenticeship.
  • Enhance their potential: your child could go on to study for a degree or a diploma: Scottish universities and colleges view the Foundation Apprenticeship as the equivalent of a Higher.
  • Encourage your child do something different that could really make a difference to their career.

Contact us

If you would like to know more information about the Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities available for you, let us know and we can help you.

T: [email protected]
E: 01397 705 765

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Call in and see us at:
15 High Street
Fort William
PH33 6DH