Apprenticeships in Scotland
Produced in partnership with Russell Bradley of Ampersand
Apprenticeships in Scotland

The following Employment practice note produced in partnership with Russell Bradley of Ampersand provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Apprenticeships in Scotland
  • Introduction to apprenticeships in Scotland
  • Legal framework for common law apprenticeships
  • Capacity to enter a contract of apprenticeship and age
  • Duration of a common law apprenticeship
  • The relevance of the label on the contract
  • Statutory intervention and protection
  • Discrimination: Equality Act 2010
  • National Minimum Wage
  • Working time
  • More...

This Practice Note examines the legal issues that arise when engaging an apprentice in Scotland.

For information on the Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding for six month job placements provided to those aged 16–24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment, see Practice Note: Kickstart Scheme.

Introduction to apprenticeships in Scotland

The contract of apprenticeship has its origin in Scotland in the middle ages where its purpose was to monopolise the art or business practised in certain trades. As long ago as the early 19th century, courts were being asked to distinguish between contracts of apprenticeship and other contracts, usually of employment. That question has continued to be asked.

The Scottish Modern Apprenticeship regime is very different and widespread. It is in large part state assisted as part of an effort to match skills with the needs of business and industry. Modern Apprentices learn both ‘on the job’ and from colleges and universities. The apprenticeship is overseen by training providers. Modern contracts are often tripartite involving employer, apprentice and trainer.

Legal framework for common law apprenticeships

A contract of apprenticeship, while it may include a contract to work for hire, is primarily a contract to teach and to learn a certain trade or handicraft.

It has been recognized that it is often difficult to distinguish apprenticeship from other similar contracts. But the distinguishing features are the

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