Foundation Apprenticeships

Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Level 6 provide work-based learning opportunities for learners in their senior phase of secondary education.

Spending part of the school week with a learning provider and a local employer, learners work towards a Foundation Apprenticeship alongside their other qualifications such as National 5 and Highers.

Completing a Foundation Apprenticeship can lead to progression on to a job, such as a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship.

We are also working in partnership with Skills Development Scotland to pilot Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4 and 5.

More information about Foundation Apprenticeships is available on the Skills Development Scotland website.

Title Code
Accountancy GR6D 46
Business Skills GV1M 46
Civil Engineering GL51 46
Creative and Digital Media GT6M 46
Engineering GL7C 46
Financial Services GR6F 46
Food and Drink Technologies GN26 46
IT: Hardware/System Support GR53 46
IT: Software Development GR54 46
Scientific Technologies GN14 46
Social Services and Healthcare GL52 46
Social Services: Children and Young People GL7A 46

Temporary Frameworks

SQA introduced temporary frameworks in 2020 to address challenges faced by centres. These will end in 2024.

2020-24 Temporary Engineering Framework

SQA, SDS and Enginuity developed a temporary framework for the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering at SCQF level 6.

This recognised the challenges faced by providers and learners in completing the SVQ Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) component of the framework.

The temporary framework below consists of the National Certificate at SCQF L6 and only the three mandatory PEO SVQ units. No optional PEO units are required.

Title Code
Engineering (Temporary 2021 No PEO options) GR93 46

2020-24 Temporary Care Frameworks

Two temporary frameworks were developed for Social Services and Healthcare, and Social Services: Children and Young People, which retain the same or similar learning outcomes from the original frameworks, while removing the requirement for direct work placement.

Title Code
Social Services and Healthcare (Customised Route) GR84 46
Social Services: Children and Young People (Customised Route) GR85 46

SQA and SDS have confirmed the following arrangements for the delivery and assessment of Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) in session 2023–24 only.

FA learners completing in session 2023-24

Now that Covid-19 restrictions have been removed, centres are urged wherever possible to ensure all learners undertaking a Foundation Apprenticeship are assessed in a workplace in line with the original frameworks.

However, to minimise disruption for existing learners and centres, the following arrangements will be in place for learners completing a Foundation Apprenticeship in 2023-24 only:

  • Learners starting a Foundation Apprenticeship in June 2023 who will complete in a single year, or current learners who are already entered on a two-year delivery model, can either:
    • use the original framework, or
    • use optional Customised units or pathways if required
  • Current learners already entered on a two-year delivery model on a fully Customised pathway (Social Services and Healthcare (GR84 46) and/or Social Services: Children and Young People (GR85 46)) must use Customised units, as per Sector Skills Council requirements.

These are one-year arrangements that will be closely monitored.

Centres must ensure that they are approved by SQA to deliver the appropriate Foundation Apprenticeship prior to commencing delivery and that all these learners are entered for all Customised components of their Foundation Apprenticeship by 1 December 2023. No entries should be made for learners on these arrangements after that date.

This will ensure these learners can be certificated by December 2024 at the latest.

We will remove all Customised units and Customised pathways from Foundation Apprenticeship frameworks in December 2024 without exception. These only apply for session 2023-24.

FA learners completing in 2024-25

The arrangements detailed above do not apply to learners who are starting a Foundation Apprenticeship in 2023-24 on a two-year delivery model.

Any learner beginning their Foundation Apprenticeship on a two-year delivery model – completing in 2024-25 – must use the original Foundation Apprenticeship framework and accordingly, learn and be assessed in a workplace.

Each Foundation Apprenticeship framework contains the following components:

  • A National Certificate (NC) or National Progression Award (NPA) - an industry recognised qualification which is taught within a classroom environment;
  • Selected Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) units or Diploma units - developed through National Occupational Standards, the units are completed within a work place environment.
  • Or SQA Customised units based on the same underpinning National Occupational Standards as the SVQ/Diploma units - developed to give a broader definition of 'the workplace' to offer more flexibility of delivery and assessment.
  • The Work-based challenge unit (J4YL 04) will be mandatory for candidates starting the following five Foundation Apprenticeships:
    • Financial Services (GR6F 46)
    • Business Skills (GR50 46)
    • Accountancy (GR6D 46)
    • IT: Hardware/Systems Support (GR53 46)
    • IT: Software Development (GR54 46)

Professional qualifications are also contained within the Accountancy and Food and Drink Technologies frameworks, which enable learners to gain industry specific skills within their apprenticeship.

SQA and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) are delivering a work-based learning pilot at SCQF Levels 4 and 5, which will give S3 to S6 pupils across Scotland the opportunity to achieve work-based learning qualifications at an earlier stage of learning.

The pilot, which ran for the first time in 2020-21, is now part of the Foundation Apprenticeship initiative.

Centres involved in the pilot are selected through an SDS procurement process.

Learners on the pilot work towards achieving a Customised Award in three subject areas: Automotive, Hospitality and Construction.

The Customised Award consists of:

  • Skills for Work course (Hospitality and Automotive) or National Progression Award (Construction)
  • Work-based Challenge Unit

The Work-based Challenge Unit will give learners the opportunity to work with a local employer to design, develop and deliver a project.

This will help develop the learner's meta skills - such as creativity, team-working and self-management, which can contribute to work readiness - alongside the technical skills required for the project.

Title Code
Work-Based Skills: Automotive at SCQF Level 4 GR4F 04
Work-Based Skills: Construction at SCQF Level 4 GR4H 04
Work-Based Skills: Construction at SCQF Level 5 GR4G 04
Work-Based Skills: Hospitality at SCQF Level 4 GR4J 04
Work-Based Skills: Hospitality at SCQF Level 5 GR4K 04

Approval Criteria for Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF levels 4 and 5: Pilot 2021–22 (140 KB)

Further details and guidance for centres involved in the pilot is available on the SDS website.

The following document details the roles and responsibilities of organisations involved in partnership delivery of a Foundation Apprenticeship:

The following specific guidance is available for the Foundation Apprenticeship in Food and Drink (GN26 46):