To achieve our 2035 vision, Scotland will require an increasingly adaptive and resilient workforce, comprised of individuals who have been equipped with the skills and information they need to achieve their potential.

"The most important thing to remember is that you’re never too old to learn. Your working life is a long time so try and get everything you possibly can out it. I’m so glad to have this opportunity, it’s something I couldn’t possibly have imagined a few years ago.”
Elaine McMillan-Kerr, Civil Engineering Graduate Apprentice

Lifelong learning

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When Elaine McMillan-Kerr left school nearly 30 years ago she dreamed of getting a degree. Now she is getting the opportunity thanks to a Graduate Apprenticeship and is also raising the profile of engineering as a career for young girls. 

As a 16-year-old Elaine’s first job was as a drafter, building on her love for technical drawing. 

Careers stints in Computer Aided Design, the rail industry and construction led to her joining West Lothian Council in 2008. 

She said: “I got the opportunity to go to college to study an HND in civil engineering. Everything was going well until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Your whole world goes on hold when something like that comes up.” 

Nevertheless, Elaine refused to let go of her dream – eventually beating cancer and completing her HND at college. Now, she is part of the first group of civil engineering Graduate Apprentice students at Edinburgh Napier. 

Elaine, who lives in Livingston, said: “Everyone at work and the University has been really supportive. You can tell that they want you to succeed, which is all you can ask for.”

"There are definitely more females involved now than when I first started. Times have changed and the more young girls we can get involved in engineering the better.”

Elaine McMillan-Kerr, Civil Engineering Graduate Apprentice

Apprenticeships are for anyone 

Elaine would thoroughly recommend an apprenticeship to anyone. 

She said: “There are definitely more females involved now than when I first started. Times have changed and the more young girls we can get involved in engineering the better.

"The most important thing to remember is that you’re never too old to learn. Your working life is a long time so try and get everything you possibly can out it. I’m so glad to have this opportunity, it’s something I couldn’t possibly have imagined a few years ago.” 

Employer support

Her manager at West Lothian Council, Kevin Hamilton, said: “Elaine was a clear choice for the Graduate Apprenticeship as she had shown so much commitment during her time studying the HND. 

“As an organisation, we have a real shortage of trained engineers, so being able to upskill our staff through Graduate Apprenticeships is a clear benefit from our perspective.” 

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