What is a Higher Apprenticeship?

"I definitely think that choosing to become a Higher Apprentice was the best decision I ever made. Even though all of my friends were leaving to go to university, I decided that I was better suited to the Higher Apprenticeship programme, as I was able to progress in a career and gain experience whilst earning money."

Christie Delaney, PwC Consulting Apprentice

IntroductionIntroduction: hear what our apprentices have to say.
KrishaanKrishaan was looking for a career change and started a Higher Apprenticeship
GideonGideon applied to university but decided uni wasn't for him
CharlotteCharlotte started a Higher Apprenticeship after finishing sixth form
AlfieAlfie started his Higher Apprenticeship after completing his A-levels
LukeLuke couldn't turn down the offer of starting a Higher Apprenticeship
Amy explains how she wanted to do something different, so a Higher Apprenticeship seemed right for her
LukeChristie always thought that the only route to professional services was through a graduate scheme
LukeJahingir talks about how he feels part of the team as a higher apprentice
LukeRyan explains how a Higher apprenticeship is helping him kick start his career early

Introduction: hear what our apprentices have to say.


A Higher Apprenticeship really appealed to me because it gave me great experience, great training and it meant I got paid as well.

I decided university wasn’t for me and now I’m able to study toward a professional qualification as well as getting the business skills that I need.

Doing a Higher Apprenticeship really helps you understand the Professional Service industry.

I’ve always wanted to go straight into work – I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with clients and help them out where possible.

There’s a whole load of people from different backgrounds doing this Higher Apprenticeship and it can work for a variety of people.

I’m really proud to work for a company that invests in Apprenticeships.

Doing the Higher Apprenticeship is actually given me the skills I need to make sure that I do my job effectively.

The professional qualification is really great but it is also about the business skills that you get.

I’m able to put into practice what I’ve learnt in the classroom on my project.

I think my team have already realised how much I am able to help with their work.

I really love working in a team and learning from their experiences.

I was being hands on from day one and I really enjoyed a more practical side of the work.

I get to contribute to the company’s success and it’s a really great feeling.

It’s a great opportunity for me but it also benefits my company in the long term.

I’ve surprised myself at how easy it is to settle into the firm and to my team.

It is going to open so many doors for the rest of my career and it gives me a great understanding what’s available in the industry.

This Higher Apprenticeship isn’t just a job, it really gives me the opportunity to kick-start my career in the professional services industry.

Krishaan started his Higher Apprenticeship after completing a degree and having several other jobs, before deciding on a change of career.


Before I became a Higher Apprentice, I studied chemistry and management at university. I then spent a year in industry where I worked as a lab technician for a chemical company. I then decided that I wanted a career change and I spoke to an individual in Hong Kong, in the professional services industry, and he recommended me looking into the sector and finding out what options they had to offer.

I think Higher Apprenticeship programmes are really appealing to everyone out there who is looking to, looking for an alternative to going to university. It gives you experience on the job, it also allows you to get paid at the same time and it helps you work towards a professional qualification.

The advice I would give to other people looking at Higher Apprenticeships would definitely be do your research, make sure it is something that you really want to do, speak to other people and really kind of network out there and try to learn as much as you can about it.

The highlight of the Higher Apprenticeship scheme so far has definitely been meeting other Higher Apprentices. We had a great induction week where we really got to know everyone and we formed a really cohesive bond with, you know, the rest of the team, and also working with my team, within the company, as well, you're exposed to such a diverse group of people and you learn so much within just the first few days.

Once I have finished my Higher Apprenticeship, I would really like to explore the Chartered Tax Adviser qualification as well as explore other opportunities within the firm.

Gideon applied for university, but decided uni wasn’t for him and started a Higher Apprenticeship instead.


So over two years ago I completed my 'A' levels studying history, economics and politics. I then decided to study in Israel for two years - Talmudic law - and as of a few months ago I was going to university like the rest of the country to study a finance degree in a London University. I then decided that university was not for me and I thought, well, why not apply to firms in the professional services. I saw this opportunity and I thought, why not, and here I am.

I think a Higher Apprenticeship programme in general in the professional services is so attractive for so many reasons. You are able to earn a competitive salary, gain, work towards a professional qualification and, more importantly, gain top work experience in one of the leading firms in the professional services.

My greatest piece of advice for budding Higher Apprentices would be don't be afraid to break away from the status quo of going to university. I have so many friends who have got top degrees from top universities who are unable to get on to a graduate scheme or any kind of job on the high street. This is a real opportunity to get on the job ladder quickly and, yeah it is really, give yourself a heads up into the professional services. There are so many opportunities which it provides.

I think it is fair to say that over the last 2½ months it has been quite a roller coaster of emotions. We started off by really a nice induction week in a residential hotel, just for us.- I was one of 20 Higher Apprentices, just to get to know everyone and there is a great opportunity to bond with the team. I think since I started in the office it's quite hectic and as of the third day I think I was already working on tax returns. You are introduced to so many P35s, P45s, P11Ds, I barely knew my ABC, but it was a, you really, it's great, you have to work at it and it's great to come out the other side and it's great just to see the opportunities which it presents itself.

I think after completing the Higher Apprenticeship there are so many pathways which I can take. Whether that is to complete the Chartered Tax Adviser qualification to become a professional tax adviser. Alternatively, even if I don't and I have just (which I have got now) the Association of Taxation Technicians qualification, it opens so many doors and so many industries and I would love the opportunity, if it presents itself, to take advantage of an overseas secondment and live life in the professional services abroad.

Charlotte started her Higher Apprenticeship straight after school, having finished her A-levels.


Before becoming a Higher Apprentice I finished my 'A' levels. I left straight from school and joined the firm. I studied business studies, maths and further maths and then I decided that I didn't want to go to university so I looked for what was available and joined a firm offering a Higher Apprenticeship. I chose a Higher Apprenticeship programme in professional services because I thought that it would give me the opportunity to get my foot in the door at a company and allow me to study, as well as get experience in a working environment.

The highlights of my experience so far have been working in a team. I found it very beneficial working around others in a professional environment as this has helped me study towards my qualification and be around a working environment.

Once I have finished my Higher Apprenticeship I hope to move around the firm and also maybe travel abroad. I think that by finishing the qualification this will give me the opportunity to move around departments and also move around internationally.

Alfie started his Higher Apprenticeship after completing his A-levels.


Before I became a Higher Apprentice I was studying for my 'A' levels at school. I was studying economics, history and sociology. I was kind of dead set in going into professional services industry so when I saw a Higher Apprentice scheme, that was being offered by my company, I just jumped at it, left school after finishing my 'A' levels before joining uni.

A Higher Apprenticeship programme just appealed to me massively because of the characteristics that I have got. I think when I was in year 12 I realised that what I really wanted to do was leave school and join a job. The university fees rising was one deterrent but I think, that as I said previously, my characteristics just led me towards the job. So when I saw such a scheme that was going to let me leave school and earn money whilst gaining a qualification, I just jumped at it and luckily, I am here now.

One highlight of my experience so far has got to be the people I have met along on the scheme. We were lucky enough to have a residential induction, so we could stay over, and the friends that I have made already have just been amazing. Secondly, through this scheme I have been able to go to the client's site quite a lot. That gives me a view into the things that they do and just being there with my colleagues is, just shows how much thought and effort has gone into the programme, as much as how much that they rely on me to do some of their jobs.

After I have finished my Higher Apprenticeship I really want to further myself and stay with my company and hopefully take up the opportunity of doing a Chartered Tax Adviser qualification. Therefore, in my industry I will be fully qualified.

Luke applied for university to keep his options open, but couldn’t turn down the offer of starting a Higher Apprenticeship.


Before I became a Higher Apprentice, I have actually come straight in from doing my 'A' levels. I did actually apply to university, sort of keeping my options opens, but when the opportunity came around to become a Higher Apprentice I sort of couldn't really turn it down.

For me, the main appeal of a Higher Apprentice, in professional services, was a sort of balance that I would get between actually on the job experience and becoming qualified in a relevant, sort of, relevant area.

For me, the highlight of the experience so far has been the versatility of the day-to-day work that I have been doing. I mean obviously I have been sitting at an office, at my desk doing obviously lots of hard work but then that's mixed with going off -site, meeting people more senior; meeting a whole different diverse group of people. I mean the intake that I was actually on I have been lucky enough to meet some really great people who I am sure I will stay friends with for my whole life and working career.

For me, when I have finished my Higher Apprenticeship I want to, sort of, have a look at the other areas in the company that I could go into, I mean, being such a big company that I am doing my Higher Apprenticeship at, I can sort of go into other areas, but then again I can sort of keep my options open, look into other companies and maybe even other aspects of the financial services area.

Amy explains how she wanted to do something different, so a Higher Apprenticeship seemed right for her



Christie always thought that the only route to professional services was through a graduate scheme



Jahingir talks about how he feels part of the team as a higher apprentice



Ryan explains how a Higher apprenticeship is helping him kick start his career early



An Apprenticeship is a mix of real work and learning. Apprentices earn a wage and get experience whilst working towards a number of qualifications. Apprenticeships are available at Intermediate, Advanced and Higher levels. Higher Apprenticeships are designed to meet employers’ needs at level 4 or above, and include qualifications at a level equivalent to Higher Education.

What is an Apprenticeship framework?

There are a number of elements to each Apprenticeship and this is called the framework. Each Apprenticeship framework has three main strands:

  • Competence based element
  • Technical element
  • Skills element

The three strands are sometimes accompanied by additional qualifications to give the most relevant skills and knowledge required for the job.

Why choose a Higher Apprenticeship?

Choosing a Higher Apprenticeship will give you:

  • An alternative route to high-skills roles in exciting organisations and sectors
  • A nationally recognised qualification equivalent to the first stages of higher education
  • Work experience where you get paid at the same time as studying
  • A strong foundation on which you can build, through Higher Education and studying towards professionally qualified status
  • Transferable skills, which help you progress to high-skilled careers in the professions