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Teenager Alana McFarlane has gone from shy schoolgirl to aspiring engineer, thanks to a Foundation Apprenticeship. 

The Kirkintilloch High pupil has chosen an engineering Foundation Apprenticeship alongside her other fifth year subjects. 

She said: “I was really excited when I got accepted onto the Foundation Apprenticeship. I was nervous too, though, because I’m not used to being around new people.  

The Foundation Apprenticeship has helped boost my confidence with people. I’m a really shy, quiet person. Working with new people, and getting to do stuff on my own has really helped me.” 

Foundation Apprenticeships are open to pupils in S5 and S6 at secondary school, and combine college-style learning with a significant work placement.

Pupils can opt to take the apprenticeship as one of their subject choices, resulting in a qualification at the same level as a Higher at the end of two years. 

Sixteen-year-old Alana travels from Kirkintilloch two afternoons a week to attend classes at City of Glasgow College’s state of the art Riverside campus. She’s gaining lots of hands-on experience in the college’s workshop, learning how to read technical drawings, cut metal and operate industry-standard machinery. She’ll be going out on placement with an employer next year. 

Currently in fifth year, Alana decided to apply for the Foundation Apprenticeship when a Skills Development Scotland careers adviser in her school did a talk on the new qualification. Her family were so proud of her when she got onto the mechanical engineering course that her mum threw her a party to celebrate – and it seems that engineering has become a family trade. 

Alana said: “You get more experience with a Foundation Apprenticeship than other school subjects. When you get your placement in the second year, you get a taste of what a job in engineering would be like.” 

“My uncle has a degree in two different types of engineering – mechanical and civil,” she explained. “For the last couple of years, he’s been showing me the things he does – I find it really interesting. That’s inspired me to go down the same route. 

”Once I’ve finished the Foundation Apprenticeship, I’d like to go on to do a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship in engineering.” 

Alana loves the hands-on nature of the engineering course, and says that the decision to apply for the qualification has completely changed her life – and she’d encourage other school pupils to do the same.

The Foundation Apprenticeship gives young people like Alana a taste of college life, a chance to experience a real workplace, and really develops their skills and confidence too. 

John Sweeney, Curriculum Head of Engineering and Energy at City of Glasgow College, said: “We can see a massive difference in the students since they started. Most of them would tell you themselves that they were pretty insecure, they didn’t know what they were coming into. But you can see in the five to six months since they started, they’ve got that self-confidence now.” 

Want to know more?

Visit for information on becoming an apprentice and taking on an apprentice.

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