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I want to start by quoting Andreas Schleichler, who said, “Your education today is your economy tomorrow.”

I am an educationalist.  But I am most interested in jobs.  Therefore I am interested in how jobs are created.  And I am interested in talent pipelines.  And because I am interested in talent pipelines and in creating a twenty first century workforce for employers, I am most interested in providing quality learning experiences for young people.

For me Foundation Apprenticeships can do both of these things: create high quality learning experiences.  And potentially jobs.

I know of an ICT based company in Fife that had outsourced high quality jobs to Malaysia in the past three years.  In addition, in our workforce modelling for Fife, we know that the Digital Sector is a key sector for us.  This sounds like quite a lot of demand that our education sector needs to address.

Part of the recipe for success in Fife has been a push on attainment.   Our young people are more qualified and more employable.  But we still have anecdotes from employers about unsatisfactory recruitment processes.  And about a skills gap.

But we are just getting started.  And we have needed to be strategic.  Our DYW strategy is simple.  It has three elements:

  1. To create a culture of enterprise in every classroom in Fife
  2. To build a programme of work-based learning for the senior phase for all pupils
  3. To provide mentoring support for the young people most at risk of labour market marginalisation 

Foundation Apprenticeships fits into this well.  It is a high class framework for young people.  Two years of study, building skills, knowledge and competence.  It includes work experience tailored to the programme.  It is also a great framework for employers, who are interested in building their talent pipeline.

In Fife, we have built the Opportunities Fife Work Based Learning Consortium: a consortium of schools and training providers and businesses.  It is a ground breaking approach.  We are pulling on all available talents.

We are providing three ICT frameworks in Fife: in ICT Software; ICT Hardware; and Creative and Digital Media.

The opportunity for you is to support our young people in these frameworks.  To build a talent development approach that prepares people over a period before they are employed by your company.  For me, that is not just about CSR, but a proper business proposition.

There is no better marketing for a company than to be associated with a school.  Schools have great values.  They are impregnable from a marketing point of view.  Your logo, their smiling faces.  Your company is forging the future.  From a brand point of view, you can’t lose.

Lastly, the coolest thing about Foundation Apprenticeship is the industry challenge element.  Two years ago the Engineering Pathfinder in Fife saw the pupils from Lochgelly and  Kirkland High Schools undertaking an industry challenge, working alongside the apprentices from Babcock in Rosyth.  They worked for a week solving a group engineering challenge set by the company.

It filled the gap between school and work in very special way.  A quality experience, determined by business, which resulted in learning.  You might call it a business proposition.  I might call it learning.  It doesn’t really matter what we call it.  It was innovation.  Two worlds aligning, industry and education.  It looked like a future we can build together. 

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