What is a Higher Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are an excellent way to gain practical skills and knowledge while earning a wage. However, you may wonder, “What is a higher apprenticeship?

This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of what a higher apprenticeship is, how it works, its benefits, and its significance in the modern job market.

What is a Higher Apprenticeship

Understanding Higher Apprenticeships

A higher apprenticeship is a Level 4 to 7 specialised education and training program that combines work-based learning with formal education. It is designed to allow individuals to earn a wage while acquiring practical skills, industry-specific knowledge, and recognised qualifications. Higher apprenticeships are available in various sectors, including business, engineering, healthcare, and information technology.

How Higher Apprenticeships Work

Higher apprenticeships typically last between 1 to 5 years, depending on the level and field of study. These apprenticeships are available at Levels 4 to 7, equivalent to a foundation degree up to a master’s degree. A company employs individuals who spend most of their time on real tasks and projects within their chosen industry. Additionally, they dedicate a portion of their time to formal education through attending college or university part-time or online courses.

Benefits of Higher Apprenticeships

  1. Earn While You Learn: One of the primary advantages of a higher apprenticeship is the ability to earn a salary while gaining practical experience. This helps individuals cover their living expenses and reduces the financial burden of pursuing higher education.
  2. Industry-Relevant Skills: Higher apprenticeships focus on equipping individuals with skills directly applicable to their chosen industry. This hands-on experience enhances employability and prepares apprentices for the demands of the job market.
  3. Recognised Qualifications: Completing a higher apprenticeship leads to earning nationally recognised qualifications, which employers highly value. These qualifications validate the skills and knowledge gained during the apprenticeship.
  4. Career Progression: Many higher apprenticeships offer opportunities for career progression within the company or industry. Apprentices often have the chance to secure permanent positions after completing their apprenticeship.
  5. Minimal Student Debt: Unlike traditional university education, higher apprenticeships minimise the accumulation of student debt. Apprentices do not need to pay tuition fees, and the government and the employer financially support their learning.

Significance in the Job Market

Higher apprenticeships are crucial in addressing the skills gap in various industries. They bridge the divide between academic knowledge and practical expertise, producing well-prepared, job-ready individuals to contribute effectively to the workforce. As industries continue to evolve, higher apprenticeships ensure a pipeline of skilled workers who can adapt to changing technologies and trends.

Educational Requirements

The specific educational requirements for higher apprenticeships can vary depending on the program and the employer. Generally, you will need a set of qualifications, which typically include:

  • GCSEs: These are your basic qualifications. To start a higher apprenticeship, you will typically need at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4) or equivalent. These should include English and Maths, as they are often mandatory.
  • A Levels or Equivalent: Some higher apprenticeships may require A levels or their equivalent. The specific subjects and grades needed will vary based on the apprenticeship program. It’s best to check the requirements for the apprenticeship you’re interested in.

Application Process

The application process for higher apprenticeships involves researching available opportunities, preparing a CV, and completing application forms. Some employers may require candidates to undergo interviews or assessments to gauge their suitability for the role.


Higher apprenticeships offer a unique pathway for individuals to achieve their career aspirations while gaining essential skills and qualifications. By providing a blend of hands-on experience and formal education, higher apprenticeships empower individuals to excel in their chosen industries. This educational model benefits apprentices and contributes significantly to the growth and sustainability of the nation’s workforce and economy.

Updated on September 2, 2023

Was this helpful?

Related content