Highways Maintenance Skilled Operative

Occupation overview

The occupation covered by this standard deals with reactive and planned highway maintenance/repairs of the highway. Essential is the skill to keep the traffic flowing and safe by competently setting out temporary traffic management. Apprentices will work outside in all weathers and may be required to work at all times of the day and night at various locations. Working on highways maintenance can be dangerous so apprentices need plenty of common sense and a high level of safety awareness together with a disciplined and responsible approach whilst working with others. Understanding health and safety and environmental control will be essential. All work must meet nationally recognised specifications and quality expectations.


  • Apprentices will need to able to excavate and reinstate a variety of surfaces and ancillary equipment in different applications whilst complying with legislation and control and operating hand/power tools.
  • The individual must be able to maintain the highway including clearing hedgerows, cutting grass, removing rubbish and disposing of dead animals whilst complying with current legislation.
  • Apprentices must be able to erect and dismantle temporary traffic management in line with Sector Scheme requirements.


  • As an option apprentices must be able to clear the highway of ice and snow in order to maintain traffic flow whilst complying with legislation.


  • Understand the structure of the highway, civil engineering methods, construction technology and provide solutions to problems and improve working practices. Gain knowledge of different road categories and types, construction materials and working methods. Know how to work in accordance with the National Highway Sector Schemes, industry Codes of Practice, the New Roads & Street Works Act and all other guidance relevant to the occupation.
  • Understand the employer’s health, safety and environmental requirements and apply these to your own work. To understand how to identify/reduce hazards and risks in line with legislation and safe systems of work, to avoid injury to you, the public and work colleagues. Report any potential hazards and risk.
  • To be able to read drawings, plans and specifications in order to identify what works are required. Be able to operate hand / power tools and direct plant, knowing their limitations so they can be safely operated. Know how to identify, locate and excavate around underground services to avoid strikes and the loss of services. Adapt working methods to reflect changes in working environments. Carry out works using tried and tested methods under the guidance of an experienced craft person to the required standards of workmanship
  • Understand the employer’s requirements, and how to communicate effectively. Be courteous and polite to get on with others, and maintain effective working relationships. Communicate verbally or in writing effectively. Have a good understanding of information technology
  • Understand and apply internal and external quality control systems to avoid increased costs and carrying out works on more than one occasion due to defective workmanship
  • Know the importance of systems which record and measure costs; be aware of how costs are incurred and the impact of any changes on the progress of the works. Gain knowledge of the principles of measurement and how to apply them
  • As the actual work carried out varies depending on the seasons of the year apprentices will need to fully understand how to clear hedgerows, cut grass, and remove all types of rubbish from the highway including the disposal of dead animals knocked down by vehicles.


  • In the autumn/winter months apprentices could be asked to assist in the removal of snow and ice control and will therefore need to understand the various winter service operations and products such as the use of salt to prevent frost forming on road surfaces


  • Demonstrate safety conscious behaviours and promote a positive health, safety and environmental culture by personal example. Work safely, identify and avoid risks. Report any unsafe practices and hazards which could endanger you and your colleagues and always work in a safe efficient manner.
  • Be able to work with others in a collaborative and non-confrontational way and listen to instruction
  • Be able to work on their own initiative to solve problems, seek out critical information to plan and organise work activities. Apprentices need to be flexible in their approach and know when to seek advice.

Entry Requirements

Apprentices without Level 1 in English and maths will need to achieve this level and take the test for level 2 English and maths prior to taking the end-point assessment.

For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3 and British Sign Language qualification are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.


Employers will set their own entry requirements when selecting candidates, but the typical duration is 24 months.

Professional Qualifications / Recognition

This is a Level 2 Apprenticeship.

Apprentices will be expected to attain Level 1 Skills in Maths and English as part of this Apprenticeship. In addition, Apprentices will be required to work towards level 2 and sit the examination for English & Maths. Completion of the Apprenticeship will result in attainment of a Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Highway Maintenance

Currently there is no professional recognition at this level but this will be looked at in the future. However upon the successful completion of this apprenticeship Apprentices should consider the Highways Maintenance Supervisor Level 3 Apprenticeship which may well in the future provide them with progression towards membership as an apprentice with the Institute of Highways Engineer. 


Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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