Last Updated: Wednesday, October 05, 2022

DYW senior phase developments - Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs)

What is this?

​This resource provides an overview of Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) with links to materials for use in schools with pupils and parents including presentations, case study films and animations.

Who is this for?

​For teachers, school leadership and education practitioners to support them in engaging with learners, parents and carers.

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How to use this learning resource to improve practice

These Foundation Apprenticeship resources include presentations, films, animations and case studies which teachers/practitioners can use and adapt to help raise awareness of FAs and improved knowledge of Foundation Apprenticeships.

What are Foundation Apprenticeships?

Foundation Apprenticeships give young people the combination of a qualification and a valuable workplace experience in some of Scotland’s most exciting growth industries. They typically take two years to complete – but some can be completed in a year.

Why were Foundation Apprenticeships developed?

Foundation Apprenticeships were developed to provide work-based learning opportunities for learners as part of the wider senior phase offer and to meet real skills demands from employers to fit with economic need.

Who are Foundation Apprenticeships for?

Foundation Apprenticeships are for pupils in senior phase who want to get real work experience in a specific sector that they are interested in.

What are the benefits of Foundation Apprenticeships?

  • S5 and S6 pupils can gain a qualification recognised by industry and employers – set at SCQF level 6 (same level as a higher);
  • Colleges and universities recognise Foundation Apprenticeships for entry alongside Highers and other qualifications;
  • FAs help with progression to a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship;
  • FAs support the development of career management and employability skills as part of the wider development of skills for learning, life and work;
  • It connects learners with employers and the wider world of work;
  • Through FAs, learners develop understanding of the responsibilities and duties placed on employers and employees;
  • FAs also support a flexible approach to work placements with better links to career aspirations as described in the Work Placement Standard.

Can't view this video? You can also view this clip on Glow (log-in required).

Can't view this video? You can also view this clip on Glow (log-in required).

Watch a YouTube video as Abbie talks about her Foundation Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care.

Watch a playlist of YouTube videos from Apprenticeships Scot giving teacher testimonials about Foundation Apprenticeships.

PDF file: Skills Development Scotland - Benefits of Foundation Apprenticeships (1.9 MB)

What is the ambition for Foundation Apprenticeships?

The current focus is on meeting Scottish Government’s ambition to make 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities available in schools by the end of 2019, with the aim of embedding these in the senior phase curriculum offer in all secondary school’s by 2020.

How are Foundation Apprenticeships being delivered throughout Scotland?

When first introduced, the standard delivery model for Foundation Apprenticeships was:

  • College-led co-ordination and delivery
  • Employer placement
  • Over two years starting in S5

Since then, Foundation Apprenticeships have developed with an increased range of partnerships and delivery models being developed to meet local needs. There are now a range of regional and local variations. For the academic year ahead, these include:

  • FAs delivered over one academic year. This is available in many local authorities depending on the specific frameworks involved. This will usually see pupils selecting a FA as two subjects over an academic year.
  • Knowledge components being delivered in school either through college, teaching or other learning provider, including direct involvement of school teachers in the delivery of parts of a FAs (e.g. specific unit).
  • Individual schools taking a lead role for coordinating delivery of a FA within a local cohort approach. This could involve timetabling, recruitment and delivery at a localised level.
  • Independent learning providers and local authorities taking a lead role in coordinating the delivery of Foundation Apprenticeships.
  • Local Authorities and employers directly linking participation in FAs to their own recruitment plans in key sectors.

Learning Providers have been working with Local Authorities and schools to find the model most appropriate in each area for 2019. For details on the local delivery plans please contact your local learning providers or get in touch with SDS by registering an interest through and searching by your school. You can also email SDS directly at and they will connect you to your local learning providers.

What has the impact been?

Foundation Apprenticeships support the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment Strategy, Developing the Young Workforce. Foundation Apprenticeships support:

  • Reducing youth unemployment;
  • Learners moving on to positive destinations;
  • Bringing education and employers closer together;
  • Opening more career pathways for young people.

What’s been said?

John Swinney, Education Secretary, spoke of the benefits of Foundation Apprenticeships:

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.

Tony McDaid, Executive Director of Education Resources, South Lanarkshire, said:

It’s important to offer young people the choice of Foundation Apprenticeships because it gives them a wide variety of opportunity. As they’re heading towards leaving school, young people are thinking about what they’re wanting to do next – this gives them practical opportunities.

Graeme Hendry, SDS national manager for Foundation Apprenticeships, said:

Foundation Apprenticeships are closing the gap between the classroom and the workplace, with pupils seeing the benefits. Employers are telling us that pupils who have taken a Foundation Apprenticeship are more attractive candidates for apprenticeship jobs.

Fraser Wallace, Apprentice of the Year 2018, said:

My Foundation Apprenticeship has been a great way to make the transition from school to the workplace. It has helped me decide that this is what I want to do. I’m learning so much on the practical side and even more from the people I am working with.