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A Foundation Apprenticeship plus a love of figures is adding up to a dream start to a career in civil engineering for maths whizz Tafara Gopoza.

The sixth-year pupil at St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School is eager to start a career that fuels his passion for maths.

When the 17-year-old from Ruchill found out about the Civil Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship offered by Glasgow Kelvin College he quickly calculated the benefits.

Tafara said: “I was told about Foundation Apprenticeships at school.

“I loved the fact that I could get the work experience, knowledge and qualification in engineering with Foundation Apprenticeships. Engineering is definitely the career I’d like to get into.

“When I told my mum about the Foundation Apprenticeship, she said I should go for it.”

Available in all Scotland’s local authorities, Foundation Apprenticeships offer senior school pupils the chance to get out of the classroom for work-based learning in growth sectors.

Completion leads to a qualification at the same level as a Higher, providing the opportunity to progress into work, like a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship as well as being recognised for entry into colleges and universities across Scotland.

Tafara chose his two-year Foundation Apprenticeship when he made his subject choices for fifth year, taking it alongside Highers in Maths, Chemistry, English and Physics.

In the first year, he attended college two half days a week.

Now in the second year of his Foundation Apprenticeship, Tafara is gaining work experience on site with social housing developer, McTaggart Construction, one day of his school week. He’s also taking Advanced Higher Maths.

“I loved going to college through my Foundation Apprenticehip because I got to meet new people and it’s a different environment to school,” explained Tafara. “I really like going to McTaggart because I’m getting knowledge about engineering that I wouldn’t get in class.”

Ross Hammell, Sustainable Communities Programme Manager at McTaggart Construction:

“McTaggart Construction sees FA’s as a key element of our talent pipeline mix, alongside other traditional academic and vocational routes. The construction industry needs many more confident, hardworking young people across all disciplines to address the current skills shortage we face. The world of work can be a shock to a lot of school leavers, therefore FA’s offer the opportunity to gain a true understanding of a potential career path before they’ve even left school.

“Tafara has really benefited from applying his studies to real life examples and had to use problem-solving skills beyond classroom teaching.”

Tafara moved to Glasgow from Manchester three years ago and says there was nothing like Foundation Apprenticeships on offer at his last school.

He said: “I’m so glad I got to try out Civil Engineering through the Foundation Apprenticeship. In Manchester, there’s work-based learning opportunities in college, so this was an ideal way to get an idea of the industry as soon as possible.

“I really like the idea of work-based learning, so I’d like to go on to do a Modern Apprenticeship because you get to earn while you learn.”

I really like the idea of work-based learning, so I’d like to go on to do a Modern Apprenticeship because you get to earn while you learn

Tafara Gopoza, Foundation Apprentice

Peter Brown, Senior Curriculum Manager from Glasgow Kelvin College said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship programme provides a range of benefits to our learners, chief among these being the opportunity to undertake a long-term work placement with an employer.  

“During this time learners are given an invaluable insight into the world of work and a hands-on experience which inspires and shapes their future career paths whilst also preparing and equipping them with skills that are valued by industry.

"Furthermore, the Foundation Apprenticeship offers them the opportunity to learn in a programme and environment that has been solely designed with employment in mind.   Subjects they are currently studying at school e.g. Maths, Physics or IT are given real-world value through contextualisation and simulation of industry.  As a result, many learners better engage at school as abstract concepts now have real meaning and importance to their future career aspirations."

Foundation Apprenticeships are developed by Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with employers and funded by the European Social Fund.

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