Firms should give Modern Apprentices a chance


Tony March
Tony March, Business Development Manager, Anglian Water Business

Photo courtesy of Skills Development Scotland

This year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week (6th to 10th March) provides a unique opportunity to draw attention to and recognise the important role Modern Apprentices play in the businesses and other organisations in which they work.

Modern Apprenticeships give people across Scotland the opportunity to combine learning with real business experience, all while earning a living. The Scottish Government’s commitment to having 30,000 Modern Apprenticeship starts by 2020 will ensure that more young people have the opportunity to follow career paths that may not have been open to them previously.

Organised by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Scottish Apprenticeship Week highlights the commitment of businesses, like our own, who have decided to invest in the skills of their workforce. The theme this year is ‘Apprenticeships are Changing’ and during this week hundreds of activities and events take place throughout the country, encouraging more employers to take on apprentices and inspiring countless young people to think about apprenticeships for their future.

There are over 80 different types of Modern Apprenticeships on offer, from traditional industries such as construction and engineering through to marketing and digital media.

Recruiting a Modern Apprentice enables employers to fill the skills gaps that exist within their current workforce as apprentices begin to learn sector specific skills from day one, developing specialist knowledge that will positively affect the bottom line.

In addition to eager, motivated staff who are committed to on the job training and development, industry research has highlighted numerous direct and indirect benefits of Apprenticeships for both recruiting new apprentices and for training the workforce. These include a significant increase in employee retention, the delivery of a more competitive organisation and a more motivated and satisfied workforce, as well as delivering the skilled workers needed for the future. Indeed, according to Skills Development Scotland, 97 per cent of Modern Apprentices would recommend a Modern Apprenticeship to their peers.

As a company we recognise that our Apprentices play a major part in our continued success and aim to provide an environment where their commitment and our high standards offer unique career opportunities.

We currently employ two Modern Apprentices, both based at our Edinburgh office. Nineteen year old Owen, the first Modern Apprentice we took on and a former youth professional footballer, joined us last August to train as a mechanical engineer and splits his time between office-based and on-site activity as well as completing his studies at Fife College. Two months later Jamie Palmer, who is the same age and who had left school unsure of what to do next, joined us to train and work in our customer support team.

Since joining both Owen and Jamie have thrived, demonstrating the value of Modern Apprenticeships, not just to the individual but to us as a company as well. They bring passion, skills, dedication and drive to the workplace and we feel lucky to have them both.

Tackling Scotland’s skills gap is a priority for the current Scottish Government. A Modern Apprenticeship is undeniably a great way for young people to enter the workforce, offering them the chance to develop vital skills while providing them with a paying job, leading to an industry-approved qualification.

While it is encouraging to note that in the previous financial year, Scottish businesses employed a record 25,500 Modern Apprentices, with four out of five apprenticeships taken up by 16 to 24-year-olds, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage more businesses to take on a Modern Apprentice, as we have.

As highlighted already the benefits can be immense, to both the individual and the organisation, leading to improved productivity, morale, staff retention, quality of service, and assistance in meeting specific industry needs. Plus, businesses get help with training, funding and recruitment and apprentices often help to up skill existing staff.

There really is no better time to recognise the valuable job all of Scotland’s Modern Apprentices do and the vital role they play in so many businesses.

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