What is an Intermediate Apprenticeship?

  • Last updated 09 Jan 2020


Intermediate apprenticeships are the first level of apprenticeships, a Level 2 qualification – equivalent to five good GCSE passes. Intermediate Apprenticeships are designed to equip apprentices with the skills to thrive in the world of employment. As a guide, Intermediate Apprenticeships generally last around 12-18 months, although they can be longer or shorter. It’s the most popular level of apprenticeship, with around 298,300 people starting an Intermediate Apprenticeship in 2014/15.

On these programmes, apprentices spend most of the time working for an employer and learning on-the-job, but they will also spend some time at a training institution or local college. They will study towards vocational qualifications that are relevant to their job, such as an NVQ Level 2. An Intermediate Apprenticeship will improve basic skills too – if apprentices don’t have GCSEs in English and maths they will usually be required to take a basic numeracy and literacy test. If they don’t quite meet the entry requirements, the National Apprenticeship Service runs an Access to Apprenticeship pathway.

In practice, this might mean apprentices spend two days a week at college and three days in the office or workplace. Alternatively, they might only go to college once a fortnight (or maybe even less). Some employers use a ‘block training’ approach, concentrating the required off-the-job training into weekly or fortnightly slots across the year.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are offered in all sorts of areas and industries with all types of companies, from construction and engineering, to tourism, publishing and IT.

Intermediate Apprenticeships are perfect for people who want to move on to the next level – an Advanced Apprenticeship – as they are a prerequisite for those schemes, but they are also useful for those wanting to stay in education and training (all those born on or after September 1997 must now remain in some form of education or training until at least their 18th birthday) but who do not want to follow the standard A-levels route.

Intermediate Apprenticeships qualifications & training

Intermediate apprentices work towards nationally recognised vocational qualifications at Level 2, equivalent to five GCSEs (grades A*-C), including a Competence qualification, a Functional Skills qualification and, in some cases, a relevant knowledge- based qualification.

Here are some of the qualifications that Intermediate Apprenticeships offer:

Functional Skills Level 1 or 2. Functional Skills are practical skills in English, maths and ICT, providing an individual with essential knowledge, skills and understanding that will enable them to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work.

NVQ Level 2. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work-based awards achieved through assessment and training, proving that candidates must prove that they have the ability (competence) to carry out their job to the required standard.

BTEC award, certificate and diploma Level 2. BTECs are specialist work-related qualifications. They combine practical learning with subject and theory content.

Intermediate Apprenticeships typical entry requirements

Usually applicants are required to have two or more GCSEs (grades A*-C) or equivalent.  Alternatively, applicants might have to sit a numeracy and literacy test.

Intermediate Apprenticeships career progression

From an Intermediate Apprenticeship, apprentices can go on to do an Advanced Apprenticeship or secure a related job.

Intermediate Apprenticeships  pay

The Apprentice National Minimum Wage is £3.90 an hour, but many employers pay their apprentices more than that. The Apprentice National Minimum Wage applies to all 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged 19 and over in the first year of their apprenticeship; after the first year of the apprenticeship, people who are aged 19 and over must get paid the full National Minimum Wage for their age group.


Image courtesy of Craig Garner

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