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by Frank Mitchell
15 March 2022
Associate Feature: Scottish Apprenticeships work for employers and young people

Associate Feature: Scottish Apprenticeships work for employers and young people

Two years of uncertainty and disruption have impacted every aspect of society, the economy and education.

The tragic events unfolding in Ukraine and actions taken to rightly isolate Russia will also add further uncertainty to post-pandemic recovery plans.

What has remained certain throughout is that skills will be crucial to Scotland’s recovery and long-term prosperity.

Skills for the future
The right skills will enable Scotland to emerge from the pandemic to meet Scottish Government’s ambitions for a fairer, greener economy. When it comes to supporting sustainable skills through workforce development or providing opportunities for young people, we know that apprenticeships work. Apprenticeships work for employers to develop the critical skills they need now and in the future. Apprenticeships work by providing a tried and tested way for people to work, learn and earn – no matter their background. And apprenticeships work to support productivity and economic renewal. While businesses continue to feel the effects of economic lockdowns, labour shortages, increasing wage costs and supply issues, there are reasons to be optimistic.

Attracting and retaining talent
Statistics show that apprenticeship uptake among employers is moving tentatively but steadily towards pre-pandemic levels. The third quarter of the year saw apprenticeship starts with employers at around 88 per cent of the same period in 2019. Scottish Apprenticeships are supporting employers to attract, train and retain the critical skills they need for their business and for economic recovery.  Developed in partnership with employers, apprenticeships continue to adapt to respond to industry needs. Employers see the benefits in apprenticeships with 83 per cent reporting improved productivity; 79 per cent citing improved staff morale and 73 per cent highlighting greater staff retention.

Creating vital opportunities
 Working with employers, learning providers and partners across the Developing the Young Workforce network, we will continue to support the Young Person’s Guarantee to maximise the number of apprenticeship opportunities available. The Guarantee – a response to the impact of the pandemic – ensures opportunities for every 16 to 24-year-old in Scotland. The national mission to fulfil the Guarantee also supports the wider commitment to apprenticeships. This includes building back to 30,000 Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship starts each year, and to see how much further they can go.

Work-based learning
At the same time Scottish Government is also committed to embedding work-based learning in the education system through Foundation Apprenticeships for pupils and enhancing opportunities to work, learn and earn to Master’s degree level with Graduate Apprenticeships.
Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland have worked together to ensure both Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships were maintained, and learners were supported through the challenges of the past two years.

More than 15,000 senior phase pupils across Scotland have now completed Foundation Apprenticeships getting qualifications backed by business, preparing them for a big future in industries with growing opportunities.

A survey of employers showed that 97 per cent would support Foundation Apprenticeships again in the future and 96 per cent said they are a good way to develop the future workforce.
The drive to embed both Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships in the education system will ensure people and businesses in Scotland continue to benefit from world-class work-based learning for decades to come.

Economic recovery and growth
Independent research body the Edge Foundation recently published findings which showed employers want to see more work-based learning opportunities, and particularly Graduate Apprenticeships, playing a key role in supporting their post-pandemic recovery.

A survey of Graduate Apprentice employers showed that 100 per cent see Graduate Apprentices as part of their long-term strategy, with 87 per cent saying they improved workforce stability and 72 per saying they filled critical skills gaps.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, working with employers and university partners, Scotland is on course to see the highest ever number of Graduate Apprentices this year, providing critical skills in areas of economic growth and opportunity. The research was commissioned by the Scottish Apprenticeships Advisory Board, which continues to provide a strong voice for work-based learning in Scotland.

Employer voice
Made up of leading employers and organisations, Board members have a shared interest in the success of apprenticeships and a collective commitment to supporting young people.
As Scotland moves to a transition through a new long-term economic strategy, the voice of employers shaping the development of apprenticeships will be more crucial than ever.
This combination of commitment from employers and the backing of Scottish Government will ensure apprenticeships work for everyone, making a significant contributor to Scotland’s recovery and productivity growth.

This article is sponsored by Skills Development Scotland.

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