History of Apprenticeships in the UK

In celebration of Apprenticeship Week, Get SET Academy have collated a blog to explore the history of apprenticeships covering the growth, progress, and evolution it took within the apprenticeship community to be able to reach the current the modern-day apprenticeship. We are now on the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week.


In the Middle Ages in the UK, it became customary for upper class parents to send their children away to live with host families as apprentices. The system was not yet widely recognised and had not yet been established but this was soon going to change.


In 1563, the first national apprenticeship system was created by the Statue of Artificers. The conditions of this new system were that apprentices were required to work for seven years who would also accommodate them in their household – usually as a servant, they were also granted parental rights over the apprentice.


Apprenticeships began to gain momentum and there were around 340,000 apprentices a year in the early 1900’s. A third of boys were on apprenticeships after the world war and even during the world war this growth stayed linear.


In 1968 the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers Associations concluded that apprenticeships do not provide the same training and therefore do not guarantee a qualification.


The apprenticeship rates raised in the 1960’s only to decline again in the gradually until 1995. This was when the idea of a modern apprenticeship was coined between the years 1993 and 2004.


The modern apprenticeship placed more importance on the qualification as opposed to the time spent on the course, the qualification was an NVQ Level 3 qualification equivalent to an A Level. The modern apprenticeship then developed and became the ‘advanced apprenticeship’, and the level 2 apprenticeship was now known as just an ‘apprenticeship’ – this occurred between the years of 2004 and 2010. These opportunities opened to people over the ages of 25, which was not originally the rules before the modern apprenticeship. The new age regulations meant many more people started to do an apprenticeship, with over half a million people on apprenticeships.


From the Middle Ages to the modern-day apprenticeships in the UK have undergone a vast number of changes to get to what we know as the modern-day apprenticeship system. Get SET Academy is pleased to be a part of this journey as well as being part of the apprenticeship community – as a whole, we are grateful to have the opportunity to provide apprenticeships across the North-West and we hope to continue to do so.

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