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With over 20 years in the world of work, both north and south of the border, I’ve watched with great interest the development of apprenticeships as a way for employers to nurture their own talent and a route for young people to enter the labour market.

What could be better than the opportunity for an individual to combine training on the job, while gaining a nationally recognised qualification, at the same time as getting paid?

While providing employers with the unique opportunity to grow their own skills base; with learning taking place in context and developing the expertise the business needs now and in the future.

Demand to develop future skills

Future proofing our work-based learning experiences and qualifications has never been more important.

We’re entering a period of disruption - although most would agree we’re already in it - and our skills system needs to be ready to cope with whatever change we face.

Whether it be as a result of artificial intelligence, automation or technology change, there’s an undoubted demand to develop future skills which are resilient and agile to the challenge of a changing workplace and economy.

The continued promotion of apprenticeships as a solution to the skills and labour market challenges of what is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution is welcome.

Attitudinal change needed

There’s no doubt a compelling case for continued investment in the ‘apprenticeship family’, and the focus on Graduate Apprenticeships and a genuine attempt to provide parity of esteem for apprenticeship is an approach CIPD strongly supports.

However, it’s also recognised the signals and incentives which favour university over apprenticeship are deep rooted and systemic.

Long-term change in the attitudes of all key stakeholders within the skills system is key.

Educate parents and carers

Wearing my other hat as a parent of two children approaching an age where key decisions need to be taken on their future paths, there’s also an opportunity to further educate and inform parents and carers of the opportunities apprenticeships offer and shifting some of the historic and out of date perceptions.

Better preparing young people for the world of work by equipping them with the skills, attributes and attitudes to succeed via an apprenticeship route isn’t a difficult message to communicate to anyone interested.

As the makeup of our workforce in Scotland continues to change requiring more of a culture of lifelong learning across the wider workforce, the promise and potential for apprenticeships looks greater than ever before.

More information

Employers can find out more about Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships by visiting

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