Share this page


Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn visited BSW Timber’s Dalbeattie mill to complete the first ‘Apprentice for the Day’ challenge.

The Apprentice for the Day challenge is co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and was launched by Mr Hepburn as part of this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

The MSP-backed initiative aims to raise further awareness of the contribution apprentices make to the Scottish economy.

Across Scotland, MSPs are getting involved by visiting employers from a range of sectors and working alongside some of the country’s talented apprentices to gain an insight into their experience and the value they bring to business.

MSPs taking on the challenge will nominate others to participate, to keep driving the initiative forward.

MSPs from all parties have committed to becoming Apprentices for the Day and visits are being arranged over the coming months.

Hands on experience

Starting the day with a safety briefing and hard hat in situ, Mr Hepburn took a tour of BSW’s timber manufacturing mill facilities before spending some time in the engineering saw shop.

Mr Hepburn worked alongside trainee first-year apprentice Sawdoctor Katie Martin, age 19 from Dumfries, completing a series of challenges including a technical maintenance shut-down which allowed him to change the cutting machinery in the mill.

Tony Lockey, BSW group learning and development manager, said: “We were thrilled to be involved with the Apprentice for the Day promotional activity with Mr Hepburn.

“Katie is one of the leading lights in our apprentice network. Her training over the last year was epitomised by how she was able to instruct Mr Hepburn to help her with some really complex and vital daily operational tasks. Katie is the only female saw doctor in the UK and one of only three in Europe.

“BSW is active in promoting STEM opportunities through apprentice programmes across the UK, giving young people the chance to come and work at our manufacturing sites.”

BSW works closely with local schools, colleges and agencies to promote apprenticeships through Skills Development Scotland and Developing the Young Workforce.

Showcasing work-based learning

On completing his challenge at BSW Timber, Mr Hepburn nominated Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Sommerville, who is planning to shadow an Apprentice later this month (May).

Katie Hutton, SDS Director of National Training Programmes, said: “The Apprentice for the Day challenge showcases how work-based learning is supporting employers, individuals and the Scottish economy by producing a pipeline of talent with the skills businesses need.

“For individuals and employers, there has never been a better time to get involved in apprenticeships.”


Economic value of Apprenticeships

Minister for Employability and Skills Jamie Hepburn said: “I was delighted to launch the Apprentice for the Day challenge at BSW Timber. It was great to work alongside first year saw doctor apprentice Katie Martin, one of only three female saw doctors in Europe, who put me through my paces.

“Scotland’s rural economy benefits greatly from work based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. The future of industries such as construction, forestry, agriculture and food and drink are dependent on having continued access to a skilled workforce to help drive forward economic growth. Apprenticeships play a vital role in delivering these ambitions. Not only do they provide young people with the opportunity to work and earn while achieving an industry recognised qualification to support their future career ambitions, they enable employers like BSW Timber to develop their workforce and contribute to business and economic growth.  

“I encourage all those interested in promoting the benefits of Work Based Learning to get behind the #ApprenticeForTheDay18 challenge and I hope Shirley-Anne Sommerville enjoys her experience as much as I did.”

Follow the challenge on Twitter through #ApprenticefortheDay18.

For further information about apprenticeships go to 

Back to News

Latest news and events