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She may only be 16, but Auchenharvie Academy pupil Jodie McPherson is already in the process of engineering a bright future for herself, with the help of a Foundation Apprenticeship.

Foundation Apprenticeships let pupils in S5 and S6 study classes at a local college alongside a significant work placement, while still working on qualifications like National 5s and Highers at school. They take two years to complete and pupils get an industry-recognised qualification similar to a Higher on completion.

The Stevenston teen says that, after taking part in some engineering courses with the Sea Cadets, she knew it was the career for her.

Jodie said: “Because I had another subject to take, I started looking into the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship. I’d previously been on a few engineering courses with the Sea Cadets and I’d really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give it a go.”

Two afternoons a week, Jodie goes to Ayrshire College where she’s one of 17 pupils working towards the engineering Foundation Apprenticeship. The course combines a mixture of theory and practical, giving pupils the chance to see what they’re learning about in action. 

“I feel like I learn a lot from doing the practical side with the Foundation Apprenticeship, seeing it being done,” she said. “I like the classroom as well, but I feel like the theory goes in more if you see it first-hand. It helps me understand it more.”

I’d definitely encourage more girls to get into engineering, it’s really good. I really enjoy it. I don’t feel like I’m held back any because I’m a girl. We’re all equal.

Jodie McPherson, engineering foundation apprentice

As one of three girls in the class, Jodie is ready to challenge gender stereotypes and feels that the Foundation Apprenticeship is preparing her to make her mark on a male-dominated industry. 

“I’d definitely encourage more girls to get into engineering, it’s really good,” she said. “I really enjoy it. I don’t feel like I’m held back any because I’m a girl. We’re all equal.” 

Later in the year, Jodie and her classmates will go out on placement with local employers, where she’ll get the chance to see some of what she’s been learning in action in the workplace. 

She said: I’m really excited for it. To go out and experience the real work environment. I’m in fifth year, so I obviously need to know what I’m going to do when I leave school. I think it’s good to have a taste of everything.”

As well as fuelling her passion for engineering she’s keen to pursue a career in either electrical or mechanical engineering. Jodie says she’s developed other skills which will boost her job prospects. 

“I’d say I’m more confident since doing the Foundation Apprenticeship and more willing to go for new opportunities,” she said. “I don’t have anything holding me back now.” 

According to Kirsty Taylor, Foundation Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement Lead at Ayrshire College, it’s not just young people on the Foundation Apprenticeship programme like Jodie who are benefiting.  

Kirsty said: “The businesses that are offering placements are benefiting from the Foundation Apprenticeship too. This is a potential recruitment pipeline for them. They’re able to spot talent from an early age and able to use that to mould that young person into their way of working within their organisation.” 

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

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