Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management

The Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management was launched in England by APM in 2012. The aim was to create new pathways into the project management profession, improve the management of projects and embed vital project skills in organisations throughout Wales and Scotland.

APM has been part of a Trailblazer employer collaboration, led by Sellafield Sites Ltd, for a new Apprenticeship Standard at level 4. The standard meets the needs of Associate Project Managers in any industry sector. 

It is designed to replace the Higher Apprenticeship level 4 framework in England.

The APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) meets the requirements of on-programme assessment on the Associate Project Manager standard at IPMA level D

Associate Project Manager apprentices are eligible to join APM as a student member

The Trailblazer group led by Sellafield Sites Ltd is also developing a  Project Manager Degree level Apprenticeship Standard at level 6 and a Project, Programme and Portfolio Manager Standard at level 7.


Richard Bonner, partner, and James Richardson, apprentice project manager, from EC Harris give their views on the Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management scheme developed by the Association for Project Management (APM) and Skills CFA.

For more information contact Stephen Miller: 


Have you ever organised a party, planned an event at school or college, or completed a piece of coursework with a group? If so, it is likely that you have used project management skills. Project management is a growing profession with good career prospects. Every industry employs project managers or uses project management skills. However, the responsibilities of individual project managers vary according to the type of organisation they work for and their position within it.

Project management is a growing profession with good career prospects. Some examples of recent high profile projects include the successful construction of the London 2012 Olympic Park; and the Bloodhound supersonic car.

Success within the profession is recognised every year at the APM Project Management Awards.  This prestigious night has been celebrating project management excellence since 1993. Award winners and finalists attract national publicity for their achievement and involvement. Winning an award provides invaluable recognition to the careers of those who walk away with a trophy.

Stay informed
To be kept up to date with progress of the development of Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards in Project Management or to receive further information, register your interest with APM.

Why become a Higher Apprentice?

The experience and qualification will:
  • allow you to gain a nationally recognised qualification which is equivalent to the first year of university
  • help you develop transferable skills so you can progress in highly skilled careers
  • provide you with the required knowledge and competencies to develop yourself in a highly-skilled role in one of many exciting and diverse sectors
  • enable you to become an Associate member of APM
  • entitle you to an NUS Apprentice Extra Card, providing discounts on a variety of essentials from more than 120 high street and online retail outlets. Visit the NUS website for more information.
  • act as a progression route into other APM Qualifications.

Am I eligible to apply?

Organisations who recruit directly for Apprenticeship vacancies will have their own requirements. However, Project Management Apprentices at level 4 are likely to need Level 3 qualifications (A levels or a vocational equivalent). They should also be able to demonstrate that they are a hardworking, ambitious and talented individual who is keen to develop into a project manager.
Further information on eligibility can be found here. 

Apprenticeships are training programmes that combine practical, on-the-job learning with formal study and are available for anyone aged 16 years and above.

The Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management will allow you to develop skills and knowledge in project management, whilst being employed and earning a salary. The Apprenticeship will take approximately two years to complete.

As an apprentice, your time will be divided between:

  • undertaking your role
  • being taught ‘on-the-job’ (e.g. being trained by a manager)
  • being taught ‘off-the-job’ (e.g. attending a college)
The Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management is made up of several components:
  • Level 4 diploma awarded by EAL (equivalent to the first year of a university degree).
    The following units are included in the qualification:
    • Principles of project management
    • Project stakeholder management
    • Project communications
    • Business case, project structure and progress monitoring
    • Managing project scope
    • Managing project schedules
    • Managing project finances
    • Managing project risks
    • Managing project quality
    • Managing project resources
    • Managing project contracts
    • Provide leadership and direction for own area of responsibility
    • Plan, allocate and monitor work in own area of responsibility
  • Personal learning and thinking skills - which develop key work-based skills, including:
    • Independent enquiry
    • Creative thinking
    • Reflective learning
    • Team working
    • Self management
    • Effective participation
  • Functional skills - Apprentices will be required to demonstrate competency in English, Maths and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
  • Employee Rights and Responsibilities – apprentices are required to record information to show that they are being fully supported in their role and have had a full induction to the employing company and training programme. They will also demonstrate that they are aware of their workplace rights and responsibilities. 


Successful project delivery is at the heart of all businesses and organisations. Having the right people with the right skills helps to achieve this.

Building on the success of the Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management, a Trailblazer employer group led by Sellafield Sites Ltd has developed a new Associate Project Manager Apprenticeship Standard at level 4 to address skill demands in this area. APM have been a partner in this development.

With many young people facing different options to advance their skills due to increases in university tuition fees and with the introduction of funding to encourage Apprenticeships, including the apprenticeship levy, there has never been a better time to take on an Apprentice. 

Various separate sector skills council assessment and cluster reports identified project management as an area of skill shortage. The Higher Apprenticeship will provide the foundation of a career in project management and progression routes for those wishing to enter the profession to further their career in other disciplines using project management skills.

Not only does the Higher Apprenticeship support APM’s vision that all projects succeed, but Higher Apprenticeships are also a key component of the Government’s skills agenda.

The Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management is a qualification designed to increase knowledge and competence in project management and meet business needs.

It is different from existing project management qualifications, for example APMP and PRINCE2. The Apprenticeship assesses knowledge and competence, is registered on the Qualifications and Credit Framework and is expected to take approximately two years to complete. The Diploma in Project Management is 120 credits at QCF level 4 and is equivalent to the first year of a degree course or HNC.

Trailblazer scheme consultation: share your views

APM is working as a partner in a Trailblazer group led by with Sellafield Sites Ltd to develop new Level  Degree level 6 apprenticeship and level 7 Masters’ degree apprenticeship standard. The Trailblazer is now available and we will keep you informed of progress.

The Associate Project Manager Apprenticeship at level 4 will assist your business clients in developing a skilled and competent project management workforce. There is no upper age limit for Apprenticeships, so the scheme can be used to develop new and existing staff.

There are numerous benefits that Apprentices can bring to your business. These include increased productivity, improved competitiveness, filling skills gaps, and developing a committed and competent workforce.

To help quantify these benefits in more detail research, conducted in February 2008 by Populus on behalf of the LSC, revealed:

  • 77% of employers believe Apprenticeships make them more competitive;
  • 76% say that Apprenticeships provide higher overall productivity;
  • 80% feel that Apprenticeships reduce staff turnover;
  • 83% of employers rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future;
  • Two-thirds of respondents believe that their Apprenticeship programme helps them fill vacancies more quickly, whilst
  • 88% believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce;
  • 59% report that training apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff, with 59% believing that Apprenticeships lead to lower overall training costs and 53% feeling that they reduce recruitment costs;
  • In terms of the return on investment linked to Apprenticeships, 41% say that their apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business during their training period, while a further third (33%) report that apprentices add value within their first few weeks (or even from Day One);
  • 57% report a high proportion of their apprentices going on to management positions within the company;
  • Over three-quarters of respondents expect apprenticeships to play a bigger part in their recruitment policy in the future.

Visit the National Apprenticeship Service website for more information on business benefits.

Watch this video about the business benefits of project management apprenticeships.

Develop your staff

Apprentices are employees and should usually be employed for at least 30 hours per week. As the employer, you would be responsible for paying their wages and providing training. Off-the-job training would usually be delivered by the employer or by an Apprenticeship training provider registered on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). A Project Management qualification (e.g. APM PMQ) could be provided by an APM accredited Training Organisation. For further information, please see the National Apprenticeship Service website.

Find out what the funding would be for your organisation.

When can I start employing apprentices?

You can hire an Apprentice at any time of the year as the programme runs on a rolling basis. There are no set times for exams and these can be booked when the Apprentices are ready to take them. 

To be kept up to date with progress of the development of Trailblazer Apprenticeships in Project Management or to receive further information, register your interest with APM.

Training providers

Successful project delivery is at the heart of all businesses and organisations. Having the right people with the right skills helps to achieve this. Building on the success of the Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management, an Employer Development group, led by Sellafield Sites Ltd have developed a new Trailblazer Level 4 Apprenticeship standard to address skill demands in this area.

The APM is a partner in the Trailblazer employer group which includes major corporates including BAE systems, Costain, Balfour Beatty, Lloyds bank, Rolls Royce and public sector organisations such as the Cabinet Office and the Nuclear decommissioning authority (NDA).

What is a Trailblazer Apprenticeship in Project Management?


To find out if you are eligible to deliver a Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management please contact us.

To register to deliver a Trailblazer in Project Management, Level 4, please register on the the Skills Funding agency (SFA) Register of Apprenticeship Training providers (RoATP).

Listed below are the EAL approved centres who can deliver the training and assessment for the entire Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management framework. The Level 4 Diploma in Project Management, which forms part of the Higher Apprenticeship, will be awarded by EAL and is accredited by OfQual (the regulatory body of qualifications and examinations).

Training providers who are interested in becoming an approved centre for the Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management are asked to contact EAL

To find out if you are eligible to deliver a Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management please contact us. 

Barking & Dagenham College 

Blackpool & The Fylde College

Gen II Engineering & Technology

Hemsley Fraser Group Limited

Milton Keynes College

Newcastle Under Lyme College

PDS (a division of Global Knowledge)

Performance Through People


SR Education

The Oldham College

Tyne Metropolitan College

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