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Karen Watt, Chief Executive, Scottish Funding Council

Scotland is leading the way in developing innovative and progressive pathways through education and into the workplace.

It makes sense that the more choices we give people, the more likely they are to reach their full potential – with all the benefits this has for them as individuals, for society and for Scotland’s future economy.

Graduate Apprenticeships are a welcome addition to the choice we are now able to offer learners and it is encouraging to see it being taken up in growing numbers by universities, businesses and individuals.

Graduate Apprenticeships are increasingly recognised as a way to gain academic and industry accreditation.

Skills alignment for Scotland's economy

This is due, at least in part, to the strong partnerships that support them and close collaboration between the Scottish Government’s skills and enterprise agencies, with guidance from the Strategic Board.

One of the early results of closer working between the agencies is the skills alignment project being taken forward by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Skills Development Scotland.

Essentially, this is about assessing the current and future skills needs of the country and ensuring that all our programmes and activities are better aligned to equip Scotland’s people and businesses to succeed.

A joint governance structure is now in place to develop and implement a new model for skills planning and provision.

This includes an integrated process for co-ordinated outcome agreements with Scotland’s colleges and universities; something that will help to embed Graduate Apprenticeships into higher education.

Vision for work-based learning

So, what should our vision be for the kind of work-based learning for which Graduate Apprenticeships are providing the vanguard?

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, in his capacity as the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland, has said this is about: establishing the value of work-based learning in the Scottish education and training system, recognising the need to champion its contribution to skills, productivity and inclusive economic growth. Ensuring that work-based learning is widely valued, must be central to our ambition.

This will be helped by the growing body of academic research which is providing the evidence for work-based learning programmes to be integrated at all levels of the learner journey.

It is a collective endeavour.

It will need focus from policy makers, universities, colleges, employers, funders and learners.

Integrated approach

SFC and SDS are committed to working together to make sure that the Apprenticeship Family and our funding models provide an integrated approach to shaping future talent and supporting upskilling and future skilling within our current workforce.

Our universities and colleges are world-leading, our innovation centres are providing fresh impetus to Scotland’s ability to do things differently and the Scotland CAN DO initiative is helping to supercharge entrepreneurship.

I am confident that with co-ordinated effort, work-based learning can be built into the core offer of universities and make a real difference to Scotland’s economic future.

Read the report

The Early Activity and Progress Report on Graduate Apprenticeships can be found on the Skills Development Scotland publications pages here.

For more information on Graduate Apprenticeships visit

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