Young People

Foundation Apprenticeships: Get work experience, get qualified.

What is it?

A Foundation Apprenticeship is a new type of apprenticeship that helps you get qualified through work experience and work-based learning. Usually you take it as one of your S5 subject choices and work towards a qualification over 1 or 2 years. It’s the same qualification level as a Higher, but unlike your other subjects, your Foundation Apprenticeship takes you out of the classroom and gets you working on real projects with a real business. You spend time at school and get training with an employer and with West Highland College.

A Foundation Apprenticeship gives you the combination of a qualification and valuable work place experience in some of Scotland’s most exciting industries, all with projected growth in jobs.

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.

Whether you want to go to university or college, do an Apprenticeship or go straight into work, a Foundation Apprenticeship can help.

  • Going to university or college? Foundation Apprenticeships are recognised by all of Scotland’s universities and colleges as the same level of qualification as a Higher. What’s more, industry experience will help your application stand out.
  • Thinking about an Apprenticeship? A Foundation Apprenticeship is a great stepping stone on to a Modern Apprenticeship or Graduate Apprenticeship.
  • Headed straight to work? A Foundation Apprenticeship gives you the specific skills an employer is looking for in their industry plus more general ones like problem solving, communication and teamwork. You’ll also be able to show qualities employers are looking for, like good time keeping and a positive attitude.

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

Where selected in bold are the Foundation Apprenticeships available locally through West Highland College; Sabhal Mòr Ostaig also offer a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services – Children and Young People, and is delivered entirely through the medium of Gaelic.

How do I get involved?

Contact West Highland College to find out more. You can hear from other Foundation Apprentices and find out more about the types of apprenticeships available in your school.

Click full case study here of, Struan Roberston, from Mallaig High School, who completed his Foundation Apprenticeship in IT Software Development 


  • Get qualified: work towards a qualification at the same level of learning as a Higher.
  • Get experience of what it’s like to work in a real job while still at school.
  • Develop work-based skills you can’t learn in the classroom like problem solving, communication and teamwork.
  • Work on real projects: find out what it’s like to work for some of Scotland’s biggest and best employers
  • Widely recognised: a qualification that’s recognised and accepted by all of Scotland’s colleges and universities.
  • Spend time out of school: get hands-on experience of the real world.
  • Complements your school learning: it’s an integrated part of your school timetable and so fits alongside your other subject choices.
  • Accelerate to a Modern Apprenticeship: in many cases, a Foundation Apprenticeship incorporates elements of a Modern Apprenticeship, helping you complete the qualification quicker.
  • Designed by employers: so, you can be sure that your Foundation Apprenticeship is helping you 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 the future.

Benefits (rational)

  • Helps you get a job or an Apprenticeship with skills and experience employers need.
  • Helps you get to university or college with a qualification which is recognised across Scotland.
  • Stand out from the crowd: with real-world experience of the world of work that will enhance your CV, university, college or job application.
  • Decide on the right career for you: try something you are interested in to make sure it’s the right career for you.
  • Grow your networks: make connections with real-life industry contacts that could be useful for your future career.
  • Get a foot in the door: it’s your chance to impress a potential future employer.

Benefits (emotional)

  • Reach your potential: develop skills and gain experience to help you move on in your life.
  • Gain some freedom: spend some time out of school and in the real world.
  • Decide for yourself: get real experience of what a job is like and make up your own mind as to whether it’s right for you.
  • Challenge yourself: do something different that could really make a difference to your life.

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