What are the different Levels of apprenticeships?

Paul Thomas-Weston
October 21, 2022

Apprenticeship levels – what are they and what are the equivalent qualifications?

Employers often have questions about the different apprenticeship levels, the traditional qualifications they are equivalent to, and what the entry requirements are for each level. Let’s explore the different levels and the benefits of offering an apprenticeship programme in your business.

What are the different apprenticeship levels?

Understanding the different levels can help inform your apprenticeship programme. Completing a programme can take anywhere from one to five years, depending on the level pursued.

Apprenticeships range from level 2 to level 7 and they fit within four levels of apprenticeship: intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree.

Here’s a quick rundown of what each level means, what you need to qualify, and the qualification equivalent:

Level 2 – Intermediate Apprenticeships

Intermediate apprenticeships are level 2 qualifications and are equivalent to five good GCSE passes (A*-C or 9-4).

This is the lowest level of apprenticeship available and therefore, the entry requirements for an intermediate apprenticeship are minimal. Potential apprentices will need to be at least 16 years old and demonstrate the ability and motivation to complete the course.

Level 3 – Advanced Apprenticeships

Level 3 apprenticeships are advanced apprenticeships and are equivalent to two A level passes.

Level 3 apprenticeships are the logical next step for those who have completed a level 2 qualification. So, if an employee has already achieved an intermediate apprenticeship and wants to navigate through the apprenticeship route, encourage them to pursue a level 3 qualification.

There will be potential level 3 apprenticeship candidates with no formal qualifications, and this shouldn’t put them off applying. They will need to have experience working in the industry of their choice to be considered for the programme.

Level 4 and 5 – Higher Apprenticeships

A level 4 qualification is a higher apprenticeship, and is equivalent to a foundation degree, a Higher National Certificate (HNC), or the first year of an undergraduate degree.

Requirements for a level 4 apprenticeship are higher than for a level 3 qualification and will typically include one or more of the below:

      • Completion of an advanced apprenticeship
      • Hold a level 3 NVQ/SVQ qualification
      • Have a BTEC National qualification
      • Two passes at A-Level
      • Employers can opt to require 5 passes at GCSE at grade A-C (or 9-4 on the new scale).

Level 5 apprenticeships are also classified as higher apprenticeships, but they are actually the equivalent of a full degree. The requirements for a level 5 apprenticeship won’t usually be too different from level 4. If a certain knowledge or skill set in a particular area is beneficial for your industry, you can always ask for your desired minimum requirement in your recruitment posting.

As with all levels, what each company requires for its apprenticeship programme, on top of the entry criteria, will be different because every business’ needs are unique. The requirements you set will help to ensure you’re attracting the best candidates to your business.

Looking for level 3, 4 or 5 apprenticeship accredited training courses?

The Education and Skills Partnership offers a range of apprenticeships and accredited courses designed to meet the development of your workforce needs, ranging from level 3 to level 5. Check out the courses available now.

Level 6 and 7 – Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships are new courses offered by universities. This enables apprentices to earn a university degree while they work. At the end of a level 6 apprenticeship, your employee will have earned a bachelor’s degree, and on completion of a level 7 apprenticeship, they will have a master’s degree.

A degree apprenticeship is a big undertaking. Not only will apprentices still have their job in your business, but they’ll also have to keep up with a demanding course load. It’s not uncommon for employers to set strict requirements for their employees with this type of programme. Prior qualifications will be required and will also need to be transferable to the apprenticeship.

What are the benefits of apprenticeships?

You can develop and upskill your existing employees or attract new talent to your company. The whole system is overseen and regulated by the government, and the official national framework for apprenticeships has established the equivalent qualifications of the various levels.

They’re great for employees too because it’s a chance to gain a qualification while earning at the same time. An apprentice is required to dedicate a minimum of 6 hours per week of their contracted time undertaking off-the-job training.

If you choose to take on an apprentice full time once they finish their qualification, you benefit from the skills and knowledge they’ve earned from the programme. Either way, the apprentice has gained both experience and a qualification, so they’ll be well-equipped to enter the job market.

Support for employers

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, when working through an apprenticeship programme it helps to have a little bit of help. At The Education and Skills Partnership, we take the time to understand your business goals and through a combination of high level occupational experience and excellent coaching skills, we have the expertise to deliver a high quality, bespoke training solution for you.

We believe that placing learning at the heart of a talent attraction and retention strategy is the best way to meet your goals. Whether you’re looking to upskill your workforce, need support delivering your curriculum, or are struggling to embed internal learning, The Education and Skills Partnership will tailor the solution with your goals in mind

To develop your talent pipeline, bridge skill gaps, and benefit from the hands-on nature of apprenticeship training, get in touch with The Education and Skills Partnership.

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