The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (ASCLA 2009) and subordinate legislation made under the Act make provision for the structure and requirements for apprenticeships in Wales. Although this is an Act of the UK Parliament it, for the most part, makes separate provision for England and Wales and most of the subordinate legislation under the Act that relates to Wales has been made by the Welsh Ministers.
Apprenticeships are a combination of work and training that allow people to gain experience in a particular skill, trade or occupation whilst also completing relevant off-the-job training. Anyone over the age of 16 who is living in Wales and is not in full-time education may apply for a Welsh apprenticeship.
When a person satisfactorily completes a Welsh apprenticeship they will be awarded an apprenticeship certificate by the appropriate issuing authority (see sections 7 and 8 of ASCLA 2009). The issuing authority designated by the Welsh Ministers under the Apprenticeships (Designation of Welsh Certifying Authority) Order 2013 (SI 2013/1191) is currently the Alliance of Sector Skills Council.
A person 'completes' a Welsh apprenticeship if they meet the conditions set out in section 2 of ASCLA 2009, which include a requirement that they have entered into an apprenticeship agreement and have met the requirements set out in the relevant recognised apprenticeship framework.
Apprenticeship agreements are agreements between an apprentice and employer that must be in the prescribed form set out in section 32 of ASCLA 2009 and in the Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/844), which apply to both Wales and England. The agreement should set out the training that will be delivered both on and off-the-job and the level of supervision the apprentice will receive. The agreement should also specify what job role the apprentice will be qualified to hold upon completion of the apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship agreements are to be made in connection with a 'recognised Welsh framework'; an apprenticeship framework that sets out the particular requirements an apprentice has to meet to successfully complete the apprenticeship and be awarded an apprenticeship certificate. This is specific to the particular level of apprenticeship concerned and the skill, trade or occupation the apprentice is to be trained in (see section 12 of ASCLA 2009). For an apprentice to be eligible to receive a Welsh apprenticeship certificate the apprenticeship framework must be 'recognised'.
For a framework to be recognised it must meet the requirements set out in the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for Wales (SASW) published by the Welsh Ministers on 13 May 2013 in the Apprenticeship (Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for Wales) Order 2013 (SI 2013/1192).
The SASW sets out the requirements to be met by recognised Welsh frameworks, including different requirements for different levels of framework. In accordance with the SASW all frameworks must specify, amongst other things, the amount of learning required by an apprentice, the accredited qualification that should be achieved and the total number of on-the-job and off-the-job learning hours that an apprentice must complete. The framework should not be so narrow that it is only relevant to the particular workplace where the apprenticeship takes place.