The early learning and childcare (ELC) graduate apprenticeship is designed to widen access to ELC careers at degree level. The Scottish Government’s commitment to increasing graduate level entry routes is outlined in the document a Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland, Quality Action Plan 2017-18.

What is a graduate apprentice in early learning and childcare?

This graduate apprenticeship (GA) in ELC is part of the broader family of apprenticeships and provide work-based learning opportunities. The GA provides individuals with the opportunity to access employment while gaining the required knowledge, skills and values to work as a practitioner in ELC. Individuals who take part in the GA can access the same learning opportunities as those who take the traditional route of direct entry into college or university.

The GA in ELC is at SCQF level 9. Content of this GA is based on the newly developed Standard for Early Learning and Childcare and includes meta skills. These are the skills everyone needs as a learner and a practitioner.

Does this mean that all early years practitioners will need a graduate qualification?

No, there are no plans to replace the current accepted qualifications for practitioners in a day care of children service. These can found in our Help with Register parts, fees and qualifications tool.

Will you get rid of SVQs and HNCs in childhood practice?

The GA will not replace the current benchmark practitioner requirement of SVQ and HNC at SCQF level 7. These qualifications will remain in place and continue to be recognised as accepted qualifications for practitioners in a day care for children service. See information on Careers and education on the SSSC website.

Will the qualification be recognised by the SSSC?

The GA delivered by identified learning providers will be accepted for registration with the SSSC at Practitioner level in Day Care of Children Services.

Can I do this GA instead of doing a BA or PDA in childhood practice?

No, because this is not a management and leadership qualification. You may be able to use the credits gained from the GA towards a BA or PDA childhood practice. This may be achieved through the established process of gaining 60 SCQF credits at SCQF level 9 to register as manager/lead practitioner.

How long does it take to do this GA qualification?

It will take three years to complete.

What qualifications do I need to be accepted?

Individuals interested in applying for the GA should discuss entry requirements and recognition of prior learning from previous studies and experience with the learning provider.

What learning providers are offering this graduate apprenticeship?

Providers of the GA are currently:

  • University of the West of Scotland
  • University of the Highlands and Islands.

The expectation is that only those universities currently delivering the BA in Childhood Practice (for managers) or universities entering into partnership with a college that is delivering the PDA (level) 9 in Childhood Practice (for managers) will be in a position to deliver this GA in ELC (for practitioners).

For a list of these providers please click here. If you are a university that would like to deliver this framework please contact

How do I apply for this GA ELC apprenticeship?

Please visit for more information.