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Get a foundation in the future with Skills Development Scotland

Get a foundation in the future with Skills Development Scotland


Foundation Apprenticeships offer a path for young people to gain a foothold in their STEM career choice

In our rapidly changing technological work environment, more than ever, businesses need young people to come to their careers with relevant skills for the workplace of today – and tomorrow.

Skills in STEM subjects are a fundamental part of that – but if more young people are to take up these subjects, they need a firm idea of what careers they can lead to.

Foundation Apprenticeships offer a new way for young people to get that head start on their career. Open to pupils in S5 and S6 to take up as one of their senior phase subject choices, a Foundation Apprenticeship provides a qualification at the same level as a Higher and is accepted by all of Scotland’s universities and colleges, as well as providing a direct pathway to Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships.

There are 12 types of Foundation Apprenticeships, and because they are all based on the demand for skills from employers and jobs for the future, the majority focus is on STEM industries.

The year ahead will see Skills Development Scotland (SDS) provide more than 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities across Scotland for young people at school, delivering on a key Scottish Government commitment to work-based learning.

SDS Chair, Frank Mitchell, believes work-based learning and apprenticeships are vital for Scotland’s future prosperity. He said:

“At a time of unprecedented change in the economy, apprenticeships offer employers in Scotland a unique opportunity to invest in and secure the skills their business needs for the future.

“Meeting Scottish Government’s ambitions to offer 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities over the next year means more chances than ever before for pupils to benefit from work-based learning.

“SDS is committed to working with local and national partners in education, skills and industry to ensure that young people have access to and benefit from these opportunities.”

Of the pupils who have taken Foundation Apprenticeships 94 per cent reported improved communication, 90 per cent had gained confidence, 87 per cent reported improved team-working skills and 76 per cent had improved problem solving.

SDS has set up a critical skills and occupations team to support the offer of work-based relevant qualifications to supply the talent pipeline for the growth of the Scottish economy. Regional Manager (North East Scotland), Elaine Walls said, “Foundation Apprentices are bright, ambitious young people who see the potential for careers in some of our most exciting and forward-thinking sectors. In addition to acquiring the skills and knowledge that provides a solid foundation to their careers, they develop the essential skills – communication, teamwork, action and creative thinking that is essential to every job.”

The North East of Scotland have experienced an increase in Foundation Apprentice numbers and with two local delivery partners NESCOL and Aberdeenshire Council, local energy employers are in an excellent position to benefit from the increasing pupil interest.  

SDS have been working closely with the energy sector in the North East of Scotland to support local employers explore the benefits Foundation Apprenticeships could bring to their existing talent management programmes.  

Amongst the employers to benefit from Foundation Apprenticeships is Sparrows Group.

Ewen Kerr, Chief Technical Officer at Sparrows Group said: “Inspiring the next generation of engineers is crucial to the future of the energy industry and supporting foundation apprenticeships is a way of ensuring we are doing our part in achieving this. It allows us to promote STEM careers to young people and it’s a chance to identify and nurture future talent for our business.”

In June, SDS hosted the first of in a series of Foundation Apprenticeship Employer events specifically aimed at the sector providing an overview of the apprenticeship and case study examples.  Due to the interest expressed by energy employers, SDS shall be holding their next event in September.  

To register your interest in September’s Energy Apprenticeship event please email Sector Development and Skills Planning Manager (Oil & Gas), Jenny MacDonald jenny.macdonald@sds.co.uk


Frameworks currently being accessed by the energy sector:


ACCOUNTANCY: This could lead to jobs like: actuary, management accountant, insurance broker or economist,

BUSINESS SKILLS: This could lead to jobs like: administrative assistant, purchasing manager, management consultant, company secretary, or human resources officer.

ENGINEERING: Companies are projected to need 182,000 people with engineering skills each year to 2022 in the UK. Young people taking this FA could become an aerospace engineer, chemical engineer, electrical engineer or mechanical engineer.

HARDWARE AND SYSTEM SUPPORT: Over 90,000 people work in digital technology roles in Scotland. Jobs include cyber security analyst, IT support technician, security administrator and network manager.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT: Gaming, virtual reality, cyber security, data management and programming – the digital world is changing fast.

For more info on Foundation Apprenticeships and full details of the 12 frameworks on offer  visit www.apprenticeship.scot


Published: 25-07-2019

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