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Is a Foundation Apprenticeship right for you? Get the inside scoop!

Get real-life work experience while earning a qualification. Hear from some current Foundation Apprentices about how they did exactly that!

Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) are a fantastic way to learn valuable skills and get work experience while you're still at school. 

In 2023, 12 Foundation Apprentices joined Skills Development Scotland across various departments. Emma, Rory, Yaxuan, Nat and Xinyi did FAs in Business Skills, and Creative and Digital Media. They got together to share their FA experiences with you in this article. 

Choose a Foundation Apprenticeship/SDS FAs

What's a Foundation Apprenticeship?

It’s an option you can choose when you pick your subjects. There are many different types and they’re available from S3 to S6. 

You split your time between learning at college and getting on-the-job experience in a workplace. At the end of the course, you'll gain an SQA qualification!

In this video, you'll hear some of our colleagues explaining a bit more about FAs.

“I've found it a great way to develop new skills and understand what independent study is like. My FA has helped me figure out how I like to learn and what I want to study after school. I decided to do a two-year FA. For the first year, I went to college two afternoons a week. Now I'm in my 2nd year and I go to a work placement one full day each week.  At the end of my FA, I'll have gained a year of experience in both college and at work. I've enjoyed my FA and love that it gives me the opportunity to meet new people and make friends!”  Emma HamiltonFoundation Apprentice, Business Skills 

What qualifications will I get from a Foundation Apprenticeship?

“I'm doing a Foundation Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 6, which is a qualification at the same level as a Higher. You can also choose to do ones that are the same level as a National 4 or 5. Depending on the college or university you apply for they might consider your FA slightly differently. For example, my FA is in Business Skills.   Some of the university business courses I've looked at consider this as a Higher-grade A but it's grade B for others. You'll also get work experience as part of the course. For me, this was as important as the qualification because it looks great on my CV.”  Rory GrahamFoundation Apprentice, Business Skills 

What’s your favourite thing about your Foundation Apprenticeship?

“One of my favourite things about doing a FA is getting to experience two different learning environments – college and work. It's a big change from school but I feel they've suited me a lot more. I've really developed my interpersonal skills, specifically my communication.  There are plenty of other benefits too. I've loved getting to meet lots of new people; both in college and in the workplace. It's been very inspiring when thinking about my further education and career choices.” Emma HamiltonFoundation Apprentice, Business Skills 

“I was able to work with like-minded people and experts to build on my video production skills. For one task, I worked on a video project from start to finish. This involved me creating storyboards, filming, clipping and editing the video piece.  The final video was then used on social media and is still on the website, a pretty cool feeling.”  Nat AndersonFoundation Apprentice, Creative and Digital Media 
Choose a Foundation Apprenticeship/Nat Anderson

What have you experienced that you weren't expecting?

“When the day came to begin the work part of my FA, to say I was anxious is an understatement. But, after walking in then getting settled, I started to feel more comfortable. The workplace was not as ominous as I was expecting. This surprised me as what I had pictured in my head was quite different to reality. It wasn’t as stressful and formal as I expected. I guess I’ve been watching too many animated shows!” Xinyi CaoFoundation Apprentice, Business Skills 

Did the Foundation Apprenticeship you chose match your expectations?

“I'm doing a Business Skills FA. At the start, I was unsure what to expect. I knew it'd be a big change from the way I'm used to learning and studying at school. Having completed my first year, I'd say it has exceeded my expectations!  I've developed a better understanding of business from a theory and practical standpoint. I'm gaining exposure to the work environment and building my skills in my second year.” Yaxuan WangFoundation Apprentice, Business Skills 

What’s next?

There are lots of different organisations taking on Foundation Apprentices!

Check out Lara’s story – she's now studying for a Psychology Degree after starting out as a Foundation Apprentice with NHS Scotland. 

Emma's Foundation Apprenticeship with BAM Construction opened the door to her dream job! After her FA, she's now working towards a degree qualification through a Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship.

Find out how Fraser's FA with GE Aerospace Caledonian led him to be crowned Scotland's Apprentice of the Year in 2018.

Ready to write your own Foundation Apprenticeship success story?