THE hard work and skills of young people will be recognized at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards next month.
There are three finalists in the Foundation Apprenticeship category, which aims to set up school pupils for a big future in some of Scotland’s most exciting and fastest growing industries.
Youngsters can learn about the world of work and gain industry knowledge and experience while still at school, giving them a head-start.
Foundation Apprenticeships offer an industry recognized qualification equivalent to a Higher (SCQF Level 6) combined with work-based learning to pupils in Scotland’s secondary schools.
Foundation Apprenticeships are subject choices taken as part of the school timetable and take place in a variety of settings including college, school-based learning hubs, and workplaces.
Pupils going into S5 and S6 can choose from 12 Foundation Apprenticeship subjects. There is also now a pilot program of Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 for S3-S6 pupils.
The figures speak for themselves – 97 per cent of young people who completed Foundation Apprenticeships are in education, training and employment.
And nine out of 10 said they would recommend it to others as it improved communication, working, organizational and problem-solving skills, as well as boosting their confidence.
The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, now in their 20th year, recognize the resilience and hard work of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices and also shine a spotlight on employers, providers and individuals who champion apprenticeships.
Finalist Lara Henderson
Caring for her younger sister inspired teenager Lara Henderson to choose a Foundation Apprenticeship in social care while still at Kinross High School.
The Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare gave Lara, 18, an excellent grounding to begin a degree in psychology when she left school.
Lara said: “I’d originally wanted to leave school at 16, but I discussed my options with my careers adviser who gave me the idea to do a Foundation Apprenticeship. It meant I could stay at school, while attending Perth College on Fridays for the Foundation Apprenticeship.”
During her Foundation Apprenticeship, Lara attended Perth College and completed her work placement at Loch Leven Health Centre.
After school, Lara went on to Aberdeen University where she is now in her first year studying for a degree in Psychology.
“When I was doing my Foundation Apprenticeship, I learned a lot about values, standards and codes of conduct. I also developed compassion for others as a personal skill,” added Lara.
“I feel really good about being a finalist in the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in the Foundation Apprentice category. I’m enjoying the excitement of it.”
Finalist James Carr
James Carr is set for a career in law or politics after completing a Foundation Apprenticeship in Business Skills.
The first year of his Foundation Apprenticeship was delivered in the school hub at Saint John Ogilvie High in Hamilton, where James learned about business.
In the second year he had a work-placement with South Lanarkshire Council in the run-up to the elections.
James’ team worked on a marketing campaign to encourage 16 to 18-year-olds to vote. The 19-year-old from Hamilton was responsible for creating an Instagram advert, recording voice-overs, creating posters and managing market research.
“My goal was to make sure everyone, including people with learning disabilities, understood how the elections worked and had the opportunity to vote,” said James, who is now studying for an HNC in Legal Studies.
“A Foundation Apprenticeship is a very good subject choice as you’re gaining a highly recognized industry qualification.
“If anyone asks me about an apprenticeship, I say ‘why are you not doing it?’ The Foundation Apprenticeship gives you a picture of what work is like. It was an excellent opportunity.
“I’ve made my mum, all my family and myself proud by getting to the finals.”
Finalist Nathan MacDonald
Nathan MacDonald is now firing on all cylinders working as a mechanic at a karting track.
The 17-year-old from Inverness did a SCQF Level 4 Foundation Apprenticeship, which included studying at college and work experience at Inverness Kart Raceway.
The social enterprise, which is part of youth mentoring charity DAY1, were so impressed by Nathan, they offered him a job.
“I was at school and wanting to learn more about mechanics. I heard about the Foundation Apprenticeship through my guidance teacher and next thing I knew I was at the Kart Raceway doing the course,” said Nathan, who attended Glen Urquhart High School, Inverness.
“Getting a job at the track is one of the best things that has happened to me. During my Foundation Apprenticeship I became more confident working on cars and gained personal skills by speaking to new people.
“A Foundation Apprenticeship is definitely a good choice. It gives you experience and opens up a lot of things for you. If I got asked in the street about the apprenticeship, I would be telling people to get themselves in there. It’s a great opportunity,” Nathan added.
“It feels really good to be a finalist. I’m very happy with that.”
•The winner of the Foundation Apprentice category will be revealed at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, run by Skills Development Scotland, which will take place virtually during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, 7-11 March. To find out more and register for the event visit www.apprenticeships.scot/awards/
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.