Innovation at the heart of Scottish Apprenticeship Week

Scottish Apprenticeship Week celebrates the benefits Modern Apprenticeships bring to businesses, young people, and the economy. Construction is a vital contributor to Scotland’s economy generating £10bn in 2012. The Construction Skills Network Report forecasts a sector output growth of 1.1% from 2015-19.

Apprenticeships are a great way of attracting and retaining staff into the engineering industry
Apprenticeships are a great way of attracting and retaining staff into the engineering industry

As an industry we are rediscovering the value of the apprenticeship route for attracting, retaining and diversifying talent in our businesses. Learning by doing just works better for some people.

Young people joining companies from school and being supported through college and university make for excellent engineers and show greater company loyalty. Unsurprisingly university students who have come through the apprentice route tend to outperform their peers who have no practical site experience.

A Scottish modern apprenticeship includes

  • a relevant Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ 2/3)
  • core skills and industry specific training.

Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy aims to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021. It emerged in response to recommendations designed to improve young people’s transition into sustainable employment.

The creation of clear and effective pathways from school into work, training, further education and higher education will require much closer joint working at all stages and proactive involvement of employers. Parity of esteem with university qualifications is also at the heart of the strategy.

This approach is a vital part of the solution to addressing skills shortages in Scotland and creating a talent pool but the industry is also taking direct action to ‘grow its own’ in the face of unprecedented skills shortages.

The construction industry in Scotland is suffering a ‘pinch’ at both ends of the career spectrum. Add to this the need to recruit replacement for losses suffered during the economic downturn and Scotland faces a significant skills and knowledge gap.

How to grow new and upskill the existing talent pool rapidly enough to ensure the availability of numbers and skills to underpin infrastructure development in Scotland?

Skills Development Scotland’s Skills Investment Plan sets out a statement of the construction sector’s skills needs and highlights priorities to be addressed including attracting future talent and building on pathways into and through the sector.

ICE Scotland volunteers provide a range of activities designed to inspire the next generation into the profession which needs to be complemented by high quality careers information. Clear messaging about the attractiveness of the profession and the importance of STEM subjects is another part of the jigsaw. Using channels like My World of Work to feature positive industry role models and reaching careers professionals, teachers and parents through partnership working will be key to changing attitudes.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Civil Engineers Contractors Association (CECA) are piloting Foundation Courses in Civil Engineering to be launched this week. West Lothian & Inverness Colleges are working in partnership with their respective local high schools to deliver a two year course that is aimed at S4-S6 students where one day a week will be spent in college.

The apprenticeship provides pupils with access to workplace learning giving them increased confidence in their skills for the workplace and helping them make informed choices about the next stage providing a clear pathway between school, further and higher education, and work.