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Higher Level Apprenticeship

What is a Higher Level Apprenticeship?

A Higher Level Apprenticeship is a nationally accredited work-based programme similar to traditional apprenticeships but at a higher level (Level 4 or 5). It is designed to meet the needs of employers for higher skill levels and leads to qualifications equivalent to university.

What Higher Level Apprenticeships are available?

Higher Level Apprenticeships are currently available in a range of occupational areas such as Accountancy, Computing, Construction, Construction Engineering with SurveyingEngineering and Supply Chain & Logistics (Subject to Approval)

What qualifications do Higher Level Apprenticeships offer?

Higher Level Apprenticeships we currently offer include qualifications from Level 4 up to Level 5. 

How Can Your Career Benefit from a Higher Level Apprenticeship?

Employability

You will be employed for 2 years working with a construction or civil engineering company. One day per week will be spent at Northern Regional College studying for your academic qualification. The College will have a close relationship with your employer in mentoring you throughout your employment period.
You will gain valuable knowledge, practical skills and work experience as well as an internationally recognised qualification – just the combination that can help increase your future employability, boost your CV, and help you progress into new career opportunities.

Recognised Qualification

You will gain an internationally recognised qualification – Level 4 Higher National Certificate or Level 5 Foundation Degree.

A Stepping Stone to University

Upon successful completion of your Higher Level Apprenticeship, you can continue your studies by working towards a Level 5 qualification.

Earn While You Learn

You will gain valuable work experience within your chosen area from your employer as well as gaining a recognised professional qualification and earning a regular salary (at least the national minimum wage).

Debt-free

The Higher Level Apprenticeship programme will allow you to start your highly-skilled career without the student debt that your university peers will have accumulated during their degree course – providing a real alternative to university.

How To Become a Higher Apprentice

You must be at least 18 years on or before 1 July in the year you start your course and must satisfy the general entry requirements. 

As minimum you need to:

  • be a new employee in, or about to take up a permanent remunerative employment offer, or an existing employee moving to a new job role that requires a substantial amount of learning and skills development commensurate to the apprenticeship pathway. An exception may be made if an individual is already on an apprenticeship pathway at a lower level, with the HLA providing a progression route without the need to move to a new job role. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure this criteria is met.
  • be employed by a company with a permanent base in Northern Ireland, have a contract of employment in place, be contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week (which includes day release/off-the-job directed training) with one employer, and in receipt of the appropriate wage.
  • have achieved all necessary entry qualifications determined by the relevant sector.
  • pass any entry tests specified by the relevant sector.
  • be the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland.

NOTE: you may start your employment up to a maximum of 6 months prior to the commencement of your off-the-job training.  The College will require a copy of your contract of employment and a wage slip to provide evidence that you are employed.

Third country nationals, including European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss Nationals and their family members, are eligible to undertake a HLA provided they have a right to live and work in the UK. For example, through:

  • Having secured settled status in the UK with the appropriate visa/permit.
  • Having indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK.
  • Having been recognised as a refugee by the UK Government, or the spouse or civil partner or child of a refugee, or having been granted Humanitarian Protection, or having EU Temporary Protection with evidence/permit to show their status and eligibility to work in the UK.
  • Relying on their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement during the “grace period” (1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021) or until their application under the EU Settlement Scheme is complete.
  • Having secured pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme; or
  • Acquiring the right to live and work under the UK’s new immigration system effective from 1 January 2021.

Legal responsibility for establishing that the apprentice has a right to live and work in the UK rests with the employer.

Under the Common Travel Area arrangements, Republic of Ireland (RoI) nationals (including those who continue to reside in the RoI) are eligible to undertake a HLA subject to satisfying all other eligibility criteria.

All entry requirements are outlined within the specific course page.

Getting an Employer

Employers advertise and recruit directly for these positions. It will be competitive and there are likely to be a number of people applying for each Higher Level Apprenticeship vacancy, so you will need to sell yourself and convince the employer that you are the right person for the role.


Information for Employers

Expected Salary

The Department expects employers to pay a salary commensurate with the job role. Employers, as a minimum, must adhere to the current Northern Ireland National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage Regulations, ensuring that the participant is NOT paid the Apprenticeship rate, as this is not applicable for Higher Level Apprenticeships 

Higher level apprentices can :

  • be a new employee in, or about to take up a permanent remunerative employment offer, or an existing employee moving to a new job role that requires a substantial amount of learning and skills development commensurate to the apprenticeship pathway. An exception may be made if an individual is already on an apprenticeship pathway at a lower level, with the HLA providing a progression route without the need to move to a new job role. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure this criteria is met.
  • be employed by a company with a permanent base in Northern Ireland, have a contract of employment in place, be contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week (which includes day release/off-the-job directed training) with one employer, and in receipt of the appropriate wage.
  • have achieved all necessary entry qualifications determined by the relevant sector.
  • pass any entry tests specified by the relevant sector.
  • be the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland.

NOTE: A Higher Level Apprentice may start employment up to a maximum of 6 months prior to the commencement of  off-the-job training.  The College will require a copy of your contract of employment and a wage slip to provide evidence of employmentthat you are employed.

Support for Employers

The Department for the Economy (DfE) Apprenticeship Recovery Package for Northern Ireland has been extended until 31 March 2022.  This package channels financial support to local businesses to help the apprenticeship system respond to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Find out more about the financial incentives available and the many benefits businesses can gain from employing an apprentice by visiting our employer section.


Document Downloads

Employer Details Form (HLA) 


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