Investing in work-based learning in Scotland could contribute to a £3.4billion boost to the economy.
Leading experts from Germany’s Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) backed the claim as they helped launch the Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland.
The Centre is a partnership between Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Strathclyde University, Robert Gordon University and Heriot-Watt University.
The Centre aims to establish the value of work-based learning in the education and training system as well as championing the contribution it can make to increasing productivity and supporting inclusive economic growth.
It will also promote work-based learning, influence policy development and develop best practice.
Professor Stefan Fünfgeld, Vice-Dean and Benjamin Schiller, Head of Central Services at DHBW’s School of Business met representatives of the Centre for Work-based Learning at Leonardo in Edinburgh on Thursday (9 March) for the launch, during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.
Experts from DHBW will be international partners to the Centre as it develops.
DHBW is based in nine locations in Germany, and is the first higher education institution in Germany to integrate academic learning and on-the-job experience for 34,000 students a year.
DHBW has extensive links with industry, working with 9,000 businesses and social enterprises including Adidas, Daimler, Aldi, Porsche and Siemens.
Professor Fünfgeld said: “Setting up the Centre for Work-based Learning shows Scotland has the vision to find new ways to support young people into the world of work.
“The integrated approach to work based learning we’ve adopted, combining theory with practice, is one of the reasons we have some of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe.
“Recent research shows the economic benefit of work-based learning in Scotland could be up to £3.4billion.
“We are delighted to be working with partners in Scotland to deliver work-based learning.”
Damien Yeates, Chief Executive of SDS said: “The Centre will help to bring about a quiet revolution in the way skills are developed through a work-based learning system that delivers for the people and businesses of Scotland.
“Work-based learning widens access to higher education, increases adult participation and develops the capabilities and skills sets of organisations and individuals.
“The continued development of Graduate Level Apprenticeships will be a vital to the work of the Centre. They open up another option for professionals to access high-quality education and develop skills relevant for them and for business without pausing their careers.”
“Setting up the Centre for Work-based Learning shows Scotland has the vision to find new ways to support young people into the world of work."
Professor Stefan Fünfgeld, Vice-Dean, DHBW
Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn, said: “I am delighted to open the new Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland to promote in-work education and help refine best practice in the area.
“We want to ensure maximum value is gained by both apprentices and employers from all apprentice programmes. This new facility will make sure we build on the good work we are already doing, by further developing good practice and new approaches to learning, and ensuring these are widely disseminated and integrated.
“The Scottish Government recognises that Modern Apprenticeships are an important support for people looking to access rewarding careers and high quality jobs and we are committed to support 30,000 new MA opportunities annually by 2020."
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Chair of the Centre for Work-based Learning Advisory Board and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland will drive cultural change and create demand for new approaches to learning.
“Work-based learning is important to help our businesses succeed, to bridge the gap between education and industry, and to prepare our young people for work.
“The Centre’s strategic goal is to influence policy and practice, and to enhance awareness of work-based learning methods and to encourage industry to engage in innovative training and development of skilled workers. Its work will be built on a wide ranging and robust evidence base; it also reflects our mission at Strathclyde of close partnerships with business, industry and the public sector.”
“The Centre will help to bring about a quiet revolution in the way skills are developed through a work-based learning system that delivers for the people and businesses of Scotland."
Damien Yeates, Chief Executive, SDS
Dr Allan Colquhoun from Leonardo said: “We employ a large number of engineering and business apprentices across the company and we know the value and impact they bring. Many of our senior leaders began their careers in work based learning.
“We are proud to host the launch of the Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland and look forward to working with the Centre.”
The Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland will be distributed across the partners with a hub located within Strathclyde University’s International Public Policy Institute.
You can find out more at centreforworkbasedlearning.co.uk