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The figures confirm Scotland is on track to meet targets for 30,000 new apprenticeship starts each year by 2020.

The national statistics from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) show that 28,191 people started Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship jobs in 2018/19.

There were 27,270 Modern Apprentice starts, an increase on last year.

It is the first year the statistics take in Graduate Apprenticeships, with 921 starts over the last year. 

Standard Life Assurance part of Phoenix Group Modern Apprentices Aneesah Sher and Harry Pettit with Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn

More opportunities this year

Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn, announced the latest figures during a visit to Standard Life Assurance part of Phoenix Group in Edinburgh.

The organisation employs 37 Modern Apprentices across a number of roles including financial services, management and IT & Telecommunications. Its Modern Apprenticeships are available for new as well as existing employees.

Mr Hepburn said: “These are very encouraging figures. They demonstrate we are continuing to meet our targets and progress towards 30,000 new apprenticeship starts by the end of financial year to 2020. Scotland’s apprenticeship programmes continue to go from strength to strength with 29,000 places available next financial year, meaning even more people can access a wide variety of work-based learning.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for all employers to invest in their workforce and provide the skills the economy needs both now and in the future.”

Building diversity in business

Having recently reviewed its Early Careers Strategy, Standard Life Assurance part of Phoenix Group has recognised that its apprenticeship programmes aren’t just contributing to its talent development, they are often attracting new employees and helping it to build greater diversity and social mobility across its business too.

Group Head of Talent and Operational Development, Phoenix Group, Gaynor Sharp, said: “It’s fantastic that so many people have started a Modern Apprenticeship in Scotland.

“For our business, Modern Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to expand our talent pipeline by offering employees access to training regardless of their experience or background.

“We pride ourselves on always investing in our people and those taking part in our Modern Apprenticeship programmes are supported throughout.

“We’re enabling them to learn on the job, working towards a recognised qualification. At the same time, they’re building the skills to support our customers, now and in the future.”

Gaining the skills on the job

Twenty-one year old, Aneesah Sher from Edinburgh started her Modern Apprenticeship with Standard Life Assurance part of Phoenix Group as an IT Desktop Technician four months ago.

Aneesah decided to progress on to a Modern Apprenticeship after studying computing at college.

She said: “University didn’t appeal to me as I felt it would take a long time to gather the grades I needed to follow a career in IT so I thought a Modern Apprenticeship would help me to gain the skills and knowledge whilst in a job.”

Aneesah’s job involves supporting employees across the business through IT support. She explained: “At the moment I am gaining a wider knowledge of IT systems that people are using across the business and providing them with IT support.

“I love working at the company as the apprenticeship has enabled me to work at my own pace and there is always someone available to provide me with help and support.”

Responding to industry demand

SDS Director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton said: “More and more employers are recognising the benefits of Scottish Apprenticeships to support a sustainable and skilled workforce.

“The continued growth and development of apprenticeships is a response to industry, providing more opportunities for people of all ages to earn while they learn in occupations that are in demand.”

Developed by SDS in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sectors, Graduate Apprenticeships provide work-based learning opportunities up to Postgraduate degree level for sectors that have a need for highly skilled jobs.

Progress in STEM

The number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics apprenticeships has continued to grow.

Four out of ten Modern Apprenticeship starts were in STEM frameworks. The majority of all Graduate Apprenticeships are also in STEM occupations.

Childcare related frameworks increased by almost a fifth, which supports sector demand following Scottish Government’s pledge to increase paid-for nursery places from 600 hours to 1,140 hours for three and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, by August 2020.

The equality statistics show some improvement for particular groups. 

There is clear evidence of the need to continue work with employers, partners and the broader community to challenge ongoing and systemic inequality in the workplace and achieve a shift in long-standing societal perceptions.   


Find the report

Read the 2017/18 Modern Apprenticeship and Employability Fund statistics on the SDS corporate website here

for information on how to take on an apprentice or to find current vacancies visit

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