Types of apprenticeships in the UK

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Apprenticeships in the UK are a great option for people looking to gain valuable training, qualifications and work experience.

Apprenticeships are often thought of as just being for school leavers who want a vocational career in the trades, without continuing into further education. And while that may have been the case many years ago, things now are very different.

There are various types of apprenticeships in the UK and it’s possible to do one at any age stage of your career. In doing so you could receive training and qualifications up to an equivalent Master’s degree level. Some employers offer apprenticeships to help upskill existing staff, and they are also offered to those just starting out after leaving education or wanting a career change.

The training, qualifications and assessments involved in apprenticeships come at no cost to the apprentice themself. This, along with being paid for working and studying on a full-time basis, means that apprenticeships are a great way to earn as you learn and gain lots of valuable experience at the same time.

We want to connect future apprentices with the employers who need them. Use our Jobs Board to find an apprenticeship that’s right for you. 

How apprenticeships work across the UK

There are some differences between how apprenticeships work in different parts of the UK. That’s because England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have separate national agencies responsible for apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships in England

In England, the different levels of apprenticeship, which can be started by people aged 16 or over, are:

  • Intermediate (Level 2) – equivalent to GCSE
  • Advanced (Level 3) – equivalent to A-level
  • Higher (Levels 4,5,6 and 7) – equivalent to a foundation degree and above
  • Degree (Levels 6 and 7) – equivalent to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree

Some apprenticeships in England may offer additional diploma qualifications.

Apprenticeships in Scotland

Apprenticeships in Scotland are known as ‘Modern Apprenticeships’, and can be started from the age of 15. Different frameworks are used to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and there are four levels of apprenticeship available, which are:

  • Foundation
  • Modern
  • Technical
  • Professional

You can find out more about apprenticeships in Scotland here.

Apprenticeships in Wales

Apprenticeships in Wales use the same qualifications as England and Northern Ireland, but a different framework is used and it’s possible to study in either English or Welsh, from the age of 16.

You can find out more about apprenticeships in Wales here.

Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland

Apprentices in Northern Ireland also use the same qualifications system as England and Wales and start from the age of 16. There are entry requirements for apprenticeships in Northern Ireland which depend on the type of apprenticeship being applied for.

You can find out more about apprenticeships in Northern Ireland here.

The types of careers you can do apprenticeships in

There are now hundreds of choices of career to start an apprenticeship in.

The options are there for anyone wanting to work with children, animals or in nature, in media or marketing, in business, admin or education.

If you’re interested in sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, transport, health or public services, IT, hospitality, hair and beauty, textiles and fashion or hospitality and catering, there is an apprenticeship to suit.

If you want to receive training, qualifications and work experience in one of the more traditional trades, such as plumbing or as a heating engineer, there are lots of apprenticeship opportunities across the country with a wide range of employers.

This could provide a great start to a new career that means you’re earning a wage, but also training and gaining the qualifications you need to progress once the apprenticeship is complete.

Where to find apprenticeships in the UK

You can find a list of apprenticeships in the UK on whichever national website applies in your area.

You can look for apprenticeship opportunities in England on the Gov.uk website. If you live elsewhere in the UK, you can search for apprenticeships near you in:

The level of apprenticeship that you can apply for will depend on your existing qualifications.

See how you can use the Government’s ‘Find an Apprenticeship’ service to view the options.

You can also check out our Jobs Board to find an apprenticeship that’s perfect for you. 


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