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Delivering apprenticeships: England vs Scotland

Discover the differences if you’re delivering apprenticeships both sides of the border.

Delivering apprenticeships: England vs Scotland

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The apprenticeship system in Scotland isn't the same as other parts of the UK.

As the UK skills policy is devolved on a national level, Scottish apprenticeships are designed and managed by the Scottish government. The Scottish system has different terminology, policies, funding and programme levels - so whether you're an employer or provider, there are some key differences you need to know to deliver apprenticeships both sides of the border.


In April, the UK Government introduced the apprenticeship levy. This means all employers with an annual wage bill over £3 million now have to pay 0.5% of their wage bill into the levy, exclusively to spend on apprenticeship training. As this was imposed upon Scottish employers without consultation, the Scottish Government has decided to relax the rules north of the border. Less than half the estimated £221 million of annual funding will be spent on apprenticeships. Instead, Scottish employers can spend their levy on a range of workplace development programmes.

In England, employers can access their levy through a digital apprenticeship service. However, in Scotland, apprenticeships will continue to be paid for by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) through direct contracts between employers and training providers.

Frameworks vs standards 

In the past, all apprenticeships both sides of the border followed one set of frameworks, developed by sector-relevant employers and organisations. In Scotland, this is still the case. But in England, apprenticeship frameworks are being replaced by apprenticeship standards. The new standards are designed by groups of employers and include an end-point assessment. Apprentices completing the new standards will also be graded.


The Scottish Government will continue to use frameworks for over 80 apprenticeships at 4 different levels: foundation, modern, technical and professional. Foundation apprenticeships start from age 16, so students begin work-based learning at school. Technical and professional apprenticeships were introduced in 2011 to help employers upskill staff. Graduate- and Master's-level apprenticeships have since been introduced, which combine on-the-job training with academic learning at university.

In England, these frameworks are being replaced by standards. So far, there are over 300 standards at 4 different levels: intermediate, advanced, higher and degree. Higher and degree apprenticeships follow the same structure as the Scottish equivalents.


As mentioned, the new apprenticeship standards include an end-point assessment (EPA). This means instead of being continually assessed during their programme, apprentices will have to sit a final assessment to pass their course. The EPA can take a range of formats – from examinations to professional discussions – and apprentices will still need to collect a portfolio of evidence during their course.

In Scotland, apprentices will still be continually assessed.

So there you have it. Scottish and English apprenticeships aren't poles apart, but there are several differences you must know if you're delivering apprenticeships both sides of the border.

We understand it's a bit confusing. That's why we've created a clear-cut comparison chart to help you get to the bottom of it.

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This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.