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During Scottish Apprenticeship Week SDS and Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn launched the Apprentice for the Day Challenge.

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville rose to the challenge, spending the day with Dunfermline-based TechnipFMC. Here, she shares what she learned from her experience.

I am a firm believer that careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) should be open to all – so when Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn nominated me to take part in the Apprentice for the Day challenge, I knew that this was the ideal opportunity for me to find out more about routes into science, technology, engineering and maths.

I was welcomed by oil and gas engineering firm TechnipFMC, a global leader in subsea, onshore, offshore, and surface technologies for the oil and gas industry. Its Dunfermline facility is an engineering, manufacturing and supply chain hub, which designs and manufactures subsea well control products and also houses an engineering design team and new product development centre.

The firm currently employs over 25 apprentices in a range of disciplines here in Scotland, including engineering, computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Apprentices work, learn and earn on the job, working towards industry-standard qualifications with a recognised training provider while earning a wage. It’s a fantastic opportunity, opening doors to a myriad of careers across the country.

Scotland has a rich history in STEM and, as technology further dominates our lives, this is a sector which is only growing. However, there is a skills gap, and some employers are facing difficulties in recruiting the skills they need.

"Scotland has a rich history in STEM and, as technology further dominates our lives, this is a sector which is only growing"

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Apprenticeships offer an innovative solution to this problem, giving employers the chance to train up new talent in the areas which are important to their business.

As an apprentice for the day at TechnipFMC, I had to see behind the scenes at the firm, guided by current Modern Apprentices Harris Ahmed and Natalia Roncone. Harris is nearing the end of the third year of his Machine Shop apprenticeship, while Natalia is in the first year of a Computer Aided Design apprenticeship.

Upon arrival, I was issued with a uniform and watched a safety video and talk. I then had the chance to see Harris and Natalia on the job, shadowing them as they worked with some impressive tools to produce a model Horizontal Composite Valve Block – and showcasing exactly what they’ve learned through the training component of their respective apprenticeships.

The pair then took me on a tour of the facility, where I got to see more of what happens at the plant – and was left thoroughly impressed by these two bright young people, their knowledge, enthusiasm and ambition.

Becoming an apprentice for the day has given me a better understanding of what it is like to be a young person starting your career in an exciting field. It has also let me see that, for employers in STEM, apprenticeships can be a fantastic way to gain access to the skills and talented new staff that they need.

I’d encourage employers and young people to embrace the opportunities that apprenticeships have to offer. Through my time with Natalia and Harris, I’ve seen just how powerful an apprenticeship can be.

Now, I nominate Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay, to take on the Apprentice for the Day challenge – and I hope that he finds it as valuable as I have.

Get involved

Follow the challenge on Twitter through #ApprenticefortheDay18.

For further information about apprenticeships go to 

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