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Thousands of young people will benefit from work-based learning thanks to a boost in Foundation Apprenticeship numbers.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced that up to 5,000 young people will start Foundation Apprenticeships by the end of 2019, up from 351 during 2016-17.

Skills Development Scotland, Chief Executive, Damien Yeates said: “Foundation Apprenticeships are a new and innovative way to equip young people with industry recognised qualifications and practical experience which meet industry demand and regional skills needs, both now and in the future.”

Foundation Apprenticeships were introduced in 2014/15 and provide work-based learning opportunities for secondary school pupils in S4-S6, helping them to successfully transition from education to the world of work.

With a Foundation Apprenticeship, pupils can complete elements of a Modern Apprenticeship alongside their Highers or Advanced Highers. 

A Foundation Apprenticeship takes two years to complete and during this time pupils spend part of the week out of school, getting hands-on experience at college and with a local employer in their chosen industry.

With a Foundation Apprenticeship under their belt they leave school with an industry-recognised qualification - which is set at SCQF level 6 - which they can use to gain accelerated entry onto a related Modern Apprenticeship. 

Foundation Apprenticeships offer work experience and a qualification in the following areas: business skills, civil engineering, engineering, creative and digital media, financial services, technology hardware, scientific technologies, social services and software development.

In August 2016 351 young people started a Foundation Apprenticeship and from August 2017 the number of places available will increase to 1,900. By the end of 2019, 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship places will be available for young people.  

Mr Swinney said: “Foundation apprenticeships are undertaken at school, with work-based learning, alongside academic exams. They are the chance to get a head start on a career by gaining industry-recognised qualifications, working on real projects and gaining the experience every employer looks for.

“So far, this innovative approach has been small scale while this ground breaking programme was developed. 350 Foundation Apprenticeships were started in 2016.

“We will now massively expand that number. By the end of 2019, 5,000 new start Foundation Apprenticeships will be available in Scotland’s schools, raising the attainment bar in vocational education and giving all our young people equal chances and choices to succeed at school and to succeed in life.”

Foundation Apprenticeships are developed and delivered by Skills Development Scotland with support from the European Social Fund. The programme sees pupils complete the qualification over two years, usually beginning in fifth year of school alongside studying for Highers and National 5 qualifications.

Find out more about Foundation Apprenticeships at

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