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WE’RE on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, an era in which smart technology revolutionises the workplace and changes the way we live and relate to one another. Jobs will disappear as promptly as new ones emerge and it’s difficult to predict the impact this will have on the future workforce.

It’s vital that young people are ready to tackle these challenges head on and this means acquiring a range of skills, including the need to be adaptable, flexible and resilient. The education and training sector has a role to play in helping students develop these skills; it should be a shared responsibility between educators, employers and industry.

The OECD has revealed the key role work-based learning plays in Europe’s top performing economies and how important it is to keep up with the pace of change. A collective effort to pre-empt the skills required in the workforce of the future and provide work-based learning opportunities is essential. Employers have a key role to play if the economy is to respond positively.

Work-based learning crucial to skills pipeline

There are multiple routes into employment with a range of apprenticeships available, from Foundation to Modern to Graduate programmes. Modern Apprenticeships are the best-known, with about 28,000 new starts each year. More recently the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has been working with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and employers to develop Foundation Apprenticeships for use in the senior phase of school and to provide a pathway into Modern Apprenticeships. Additionally, a small number of Graduate level apprenticeships have been developed in response to economic needs.

It’s crucial that these work-based learning routes grow to help build the skills pipeline. More employers must be engaged to take part in apprenticeship schemes. Communication plays a central role in promoting work-based learning, alongside other more traditional learning pathways to students, their families and employers. Many young people enjoy the challenges and applied approach work-based learning offers.

Collaboration is key

Educators, employers and industry need to work together on access to programmes providing high-quality work-based learning with the security of a traditional learning environment, where students can build confidence, increase experience and secure a broad portfolio of qualifications to help them transfer into work, training or further education.

Foundation Apprenticeships are available in 12 key sectors in every local authority, completed over one or two years. They involve time in school, at college and in a work placement with a local employer. Young people undertake qualifications related to the sector and put their learning into practice through the placement. Foundation Apprenticeships help candidates develop a good understanding of industry, alongside building communication, team working, organisational and problem-solving skills.

Shining a light on impact of apprenticeships

Work-based learning schemes benefit young people and employers alike, with businesses gaining from new ideas and a fresh pair of eyes from a different age group. Collaboration between educators and industry should be encouraged.

At SQA, we work with SDS, employers, education and training providers to highlight the benefits work-based learning through apprenticeships bring and we want to shine a light on their impact. If we can build the skills and confidence of students through learning today, we can be more confident they’ll be ready for the jobs of tomorrow.

More information

Visit the SQA website here

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