Scottish Apprenticeship Week
March 2, 2020 by Jamie Hepburn MSP | Category Business, Employment
When I visited Arnold Clark’s training facility in Glasgow recently I couldn’t help but be impressed.
Yes, the facilities are great and the investment in staff is clearly a priority. But what impressed me the most was the enthusiastic group of young female automotive apprentices I met, and the support they were getting both from their employer and each other.
Recognising the automotive industry needs to diversify its workforce, the firm runs the innovative Girls with Skills Modern Apprenticeship programme. Initially launched as a pilot in 2018, it encourages young women to ‘be the game changer’, introducing them to the industry and the benefits of work-based learning.
Already, 13 women have been offered an apprenticeship through the initiative across a range of disciplines including Light Vehicle Technician, Body Shop and Parts and Administration.
The success of Girls with Skills demonstrates what can be achieved when government agencies work in partnership with employers to address long-standing societal challenges.
Fantastic initiatives like Girls with Skills take place up and down the country, helping to address long-standing stereotypes and outdated ideas about work. I would like to see more employers step up to the plate.
It is vital that we challenge stereotypes and work hard to attract people into sectors where they are underrepresented. For businesses and society there is a clear economic imperative, but more importantly there is also a social and moral imperative for inclusion and diversity in the workforce.
Having a diverse workforce leads to greater creativity, innovation and productivity. Diverse organisations are also better able to adapt to changes, with a diversity of perspectives leading to better problem solving. Being more inclusive also builds an employer’s reputation, attracting new staff and customers. Employers really miss out by not tapping into as wide a talent pool as possible.
The Scottish apprenticeship family, which consists of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, provides accessible work-based learning opportunities for everyone, whatever their background. Apprenticeships demonstrate and promote the benefits work-based learning brings to businesses, individuals and the Scottish economy as a whole.
The theme for Scottish Apprenticeship Week this year is ‘Talent without Limits’, celebrating and raising awareness of diversity. This week – from Shetland to the Borders – apprentices, employers, training providers and everyone with a shared interest in the success of apprenticeships are getting involved.
Right now, there are tens of thousands of apprentices working, learning and earning across Scotland in a huge range of sectors from digital and finance to engineering and early years care. I am pleased to say we are on track to meet our target of 30,000 apprenticeships starts by 2020-21.
Skills Development Scotland and Developing Young Workforce Regional Groups are working hand-in-hand with employers to ensure our apprenticeship system is ideally placed to respond to industry demand, by identifying and addressing critical skills gaps, both now and in the future. The continued growth and development of apprenticeships provides more opportunities for people of all ages to undertake work-based learning in occupations that are vital to the Scottish economy.
Although our Modern Apprenticeships have been delivered successfully for a number of years it is increasingly important to ensure that young people also have the opportunity to benefit from work-based learning while they are still at school.
Evidence shows that countries with well-developed apprenticeship systems and with close links to employers and education, have high levels of productivity, low levels of youth unemployment and resilient economies.
The recent launch of Foundation Apprenticeships helps to further strengthen the link between schools and business, meeting the main objective of the Scottish Government’s strategy to bring education and employers closer together.
Foundation Apprenticeships are now available to senior-phase secondary school pupils, providing them with the experience and skills employers demand whilst providing the opportunity to gain qualifications that are recognised by all Scottish colleges and universities. In particular, pupils have reported that Foundation Apprenticeships have helped them build what are known as soft or ‘meta’ skills such as communication and teamwork. These skills are invaluable, whatever career path they choose to follow on leaving school.
Graduate Apprenticeships are extending work-based learning pathways even further. Developed by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sectors, Graduate Apprenticeships provide a new way to study up to Masters level for people who are currently employed, or who want to go straight into work.
Graduate Apprenticeships by their very nature mean that universities and employers are working even more closely together and employers are increasingly seeing Graduate Apprenticeships as an innovative way to upskill and reskill new and existing staff.
By continuing to widen access to work-based learning and apprenticeships, we are meeting evolving skills demands from businesses, supporting employers to contribute to a fair and inclusive economy and providing pathways for people to fulfil their potential.
With a Scottish apprenticeship there really is no limit to where talent can take you.