Apprenticeships in Scotland


BINDT has successfully worked with a number of UK employers to develop three NDT Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards, which are currently in use in England, as can be seen in Table 1.

There are also existing NDT apprenticeships within Scotland, which are also summarised in Table 1.

Apprenticeship name Who can deliver it?How long is it?
Mandatory output qualification
NDT Operator
An English government-approved Lead Provider
1.5 years
An NDT Level 2
NDT Technician
An English government-approved Lead Provider
3 years
Three NDT Level 2s (other qualifications optional, for example HNC, HND, etc)
NDT Engineer
An English government-approved Lead Provider
4 years
One NDT Level 3, BSc/BEng degree in NDT
Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering: Technical Support Technician
Scottish government-approved Lead Provider, Sector Skills Council, EAL (part of SEMTA)
3-4 years
Core skills SVQs, HNC (degree optional, but add on at least one extra year)
Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering: Construction
Scottish government-approved Lead Provider, Sector Skills Council, ECITB
3-4 years
Core skills SVQs, HNC (degree optional, but add on at least one extra year)


Within England, the employers were empowered to write what they wanted into the standards, hence the mandatory outputs of the NDT apprenticeships are aligned with EN 4179 and ISO 9712-compliant PCN NDT certification. The key advantage of the apprenticeships is empowering employers to develop the skills and behaviours they want in an NDT apprentice, rather than the conventional college-based approach, which requires significant amounts of over-checking by assessors, who in themselves are not necessarily NDT qualified. There are funds available from the government to cover the cost of the apprenticeships, with the employer having a significant input in which courses are attended and which training providers are used. These apprenticeships can be used to train new staff or upskill existing staff of all ages. There are minimum English and mathematics levels required, but these can be achieved during the apprenticeship and 16-year-old apprentices or those from disadvantaged backgrounds can receive extra funding from the government. The employers also worked with a university to ensure there was an option for Monday to Friday face-to-face ‘block release’ training, in addition to distance learning.

In Scotland, the apprenticeships on offer contain mandatory core teaching elements taught at local colleges. These subjects may be of little interest to the employers. The NDT training school costs are not currently reimbursable. For UK-based employers such as Rolls-Royce, their Scottish apprentices take an extra year to obtain a qualification that is equivalent to the NDT Engineer that is available in England. These apprentices are also ‘lost’ to the local colleges in Scotland for up to two years, rather than spending time in the company learning how to carry out NDT. At BINDT’s Scottish Branch meeting held in January 2019, it was agreed that we would work with the EAL and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) to modify the current apprenticeships to align more closely with those in England. In Scotland, employers cannot write their own standards for apprenticeships. Instead, they must work with a Sector Skills Council, such as the ECITB or the EAL, which are authorised by the Scottish government to offer apprenticeships.

If you are a Scottish-based employer of NDT personnel, we would like your feedback on the current system you work with. Are you happy with the status quo or would you welcome change? To that end, we are looking for Scottish employers to tell us how many apprentices they are looking to recruit in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and if they want Level 2 or Level 3 NDT staff. This will help us to determine whether or not there is a need for change and if there is an appetite from the employers to make this happen.

A meeting has been scheduled for 26 June in the Wellington Suite at the Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow. Lunch will be provided at 12.30 pm, followed by a 1.00 pm start for the discussions. Representatives from the Scottish education system will be present, from the ECITB and EAL, both of which offer NDT apprenticeships in Scotland. This will be a great opportunity to gain feedback on opportunities for improvement and hear about any limitations and aspects that cannot change due to the Scottish government’s education policies.

If you would like to attend, have a view or any comments to make, please email John Moody, at: