Introducing Foundation Apprenticeships

Ayrshire school pupils now have the opportunity to apply for a brand new work-based qualification while still at school. Jane Henderson, Developing the Young Workforce Manager at Ayrshire College, explains what these new qualifications are all about.

What is a Foundation Apprenticeship?

A Foundation Apprenticeship is a great opportunity for senior school pupils to learn in college and in the workplace over two years while they are still at school. They have been designed to be challenging and exciting for pupils. A big part of the challenge is the independence the pupil has travelling to college and completing the course while they are taking other subjects at school.

Probably the biggest challenge though is actually completing the work-based learning, but this is what makes the Foundation Apprenticeship so distinctive and attractive.

Who can do a Foundation Apprenticeship?

Foundation Apprenticeships are aimed at all school pupils across Ayrshire to offer them valuable industry recognised vocational qualification with relevant work experience before they leave school. Although a pupil can start a Foundation Apprenticeship in S4 and complete it by the end of S5, many pupils will opt to do it over S5 and S6.

How does the course work?

Foundation Apprenticeships are held at college two afternoons a week during school hours. They are counted as one of the pupil’s subjects in their school timetable. Each Foundation Apprenticeship is different, for example Social Services (Children and Young People) in year one will have 4 hours of college per week and ten days out at placement in total. In year two, they have ten hours per week in a work placement.

The second year of each Foundation Apprenticeship has more work placement hours than the first, to enable the pupil to gain as much experience with an employer as possible. There is lots of support for pupils when they are out in a work placement. For example, workplace assessors will visit frequently to make sure everything is going well and there will be a buddy or a mentor in the workplace specifically to support the pupil as they learn.

What is the link with employers?

Employers are very involved in Foundation Apprenticeships. Each pupil will spend time in work placements with companies in the industry sector relevant to the course. The employer will engage with pupils and see first-hand how committed, skilled and motivated they are.

Foundation Apprenticeships are a great step towards reducing the gap between education and employment. Employers get to be a part of developing the young workforce in Ayrshire before they even leave school.

What makes a Foundation Apprenticeship different from other college courses available to pupils while at school?

A Foundation Apprenticeship is a two year course and a large part is a practical work placement in a company. Most other courses that school pupils can take at college last for one year and they are taught in the college only. When they finish the Foundation Apprenticeship, pupils are awarded an industry recognised qualification. This prepares them well for applying for a relevant Modern Apprenticeship when they leave school.

How does a Foundation Apprenticeship differ from a Modern Apprenticeship?

A Modern Apprenticeship can only be taken when the pupil has left school and is in a job. It is  different in that a person is employed as an apprentice for a company and learns on the job. A Foundation Apprenticeship provides a pupil with the foundational elements of a Modern Apprenticeship.

What are some of the benefits of completing a Foundation Apprenticeship?

One of the biggest issues young people face when they leave school is not having work experience. Pupils gain a lot of experience from work placements and are exposed to the world of work and employer expectations.

The opportunity of completing a Foundation Apprenticeship could launch a young person into a career path that could lead them to take additional college courses, a Modern Apprenticeship, university courses or a job when they leave school.

What Foundation Apprenticeships can be taken at Ayrshire College?

We are offering three Foundation Apprenticeships in: 

  • Information Technology (Software Development)
  • Social Services (Children and Young People) 
  • Engineering. 

Each course is at SCQF level 6 and is a two year commitment.

Where can I find out more information?

Check out our website for more information


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