Share this page


Employers backed apprenticeships last year with more than 29,000 new starts supporting the economy. 

A total of 29,035 people started a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship in the past financial year. 

Four out of ten apprenticeship starts were in science, technology, engineering or maths related job roles. 

And three quarters were in higher level apprenticeships. The number of women taking up apprenticeship jobs also increased. 

Apprenticeships essential in COVID-19 recovery

Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “These are encouraging figures, and I’m pleased that more than 29,000 people started apprenticeships last year, enabling them to access high-quality training while employed. 

“However, the figures only cover the very start of the lockdown measures and don’t capture the huge uncertainty and anxiety that many people including apprentices will be feeling as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.  

“We firmly believe that apprenticeships are an essential way to help people begin or progress their careers, while enabling employers to invest in their workforce and provide the skills that we need both now and in the future.  

“They will be even more important as we enter the recovery phase and supporting Scotland’s apprenticeship family through the pandemic is one of my key priorities.” 

Focus on supporting apprentices

The figures were published by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) who administer funds for apprenticeships.  

SDS Chair, Frank Mitchell, said: “While Scottish employers continued to support the growth in apprenticeship opportunities over the past year, we are of course facing into a very different economic landscape due to COVID-19. 

“Throughout the pandemic SDS has worked with Scottish Government, training providers, employers and other partners to understand the impact on apprenticeships and provide support measures. 

“We can’t overstate the scale of the challenge faced by business and employers across Scotland. Any employer of an apprentice who needs help or guidance can contact SDS on 0800 783 6000. 

“SDS continues to work with Scottish Government and the Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board with a focus on supporting apprenticeships during these unprecedented times.  

“As we move towards economic recovery, reskilling, retaining and lifelong learning through work-based learning and apprenticeships will have a crucial role to play.” 

New skills

Supply Chain Graduate Apprentice, Jordan Fairlamb has been based in the office almost every day since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

The 19-year-old from Irvine has been helping his Uddingston-based food manufacturer and supplier, Dawnfresh Seafoods Limited. 

Jordan said: “I’ve definitely learnt new skills from working through the pandemic. I am checking and investigating any issues that arise on site, making sure that I am always keeping in touch with my team online. I’m making decisions and gaining confidence.” 


As a Waste Water Treatment Modern Apprentice at Scottish Water, Ailish Lavelle feels proud to be helping to keep the water running for Scotland during the pandemic. 

The 23-year-old has continued to work at Scottish Water’s Erskine waste water treatment plant throughout the lockdown. 

Ailish, from Giffnock, said: “It has been good to be able to keep working on site. Scottish Water has introduced new measures with strict social distancing rules, policies to limit contact and use of PPE, face masks and hand sanitisers. It’s become the ‘new normal’.” 

The annual statistics covering Employability Fund and Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships are published on the Publications area of the SDS website

Find out more about apprenticeships at 

Back to News & Events

Related news

News 13 May 2020

Vital extra support for workers and learners

Services boosted to offer help people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

Read more

News 27 April 2020

Online Learning Portal

People who have been furloughed or made redundant are being encouraged to develop their skills with the help of a new online resource.

Read more

News 8 April 2020

New Scottish hub provides vital links to jobs during pandemic

People seeking work can find out about jobs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic using a new online service.

Read more

News 7 April 2020

Businesses back Graduate Apprenticeships

Employers believe apprentices help meet critical skills gaps

Read more

Related news - Modern Apprenticeships

News 31 March 2020

Employer-led group set to approve all Scottish Apprenticeships

The new Apprenticeship Approvals Group will formally take over the approval of all Scottish Apprenticeships from tomorrow, 1 April.

Read more

News 10 March 2020

Apprentices speak on skills at Scottish Parliament

The Cross Party Group for Skills met at the Scottish Parliament to hear from a group of apprentices during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Read more

News 8 March 2020

The Gender Commission: media influence and how it can affect career decisions

Read more about Natalie Buxton's experience of hosting the first Gender Commission meeting of 2020 on ‘Media influence and how it can affect career decisions’.

Read more

News 6 March 2020

#ScotAppWeek20 blog: Toni and Sarah, NHS24

As part of a series of contributed blogs to support Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020, NHS24 Modern Apprentices Toni and Sarah share their journey from the perspective of two care experienced individuals in the world of work.

Read more

News 6 March 2020

Lantra ALBA Awards 2020

The achievements of the country’s top land-based and aquaculture trainees were celebrated at the ALBAS

Read more

News 6 March 2020

Apprentices win national award for work in tribute of WW1 soldiers

Talented apprentices from Ayrshire have won national recognition for their work to support the community.

Read more

News 5 March 2020

Apprenticeships celebrated at Scottish Parliament

Apprentices from across Scotland promoted the benefits of work-based learning at the Scottish Parliament.

Read more

News 5 March 2020

Apprentices learn how to ‘future proof skills’

Apprentices from across Scotland gathered in Glasgow to hear from TEDx Youth speaker, Natalie Loh, at a breakfast event hosted by Scotland’s Apprentice Network, as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Read more

News 4 March 2020

Apprenticeships, upskilling & reskilling in the construction sector

The second of a series of articles looking at the work resulting from the Skills Investment Plan for Scotland's construction sector.

Read more

News 2 March 2020

#ScotAppWeek20 blog: Jamie Rutherford, ENABLE Scotland

#ScotAppWeek blog: Jamie Rutherford, ENABLE Scotland

Read more

News 2 March 2020

Scottish businesses back apprenticeships

A survey of 2,500 apprenticeship employers showed that work-based learning boosts productivity and morale.

Read more

News 2 March 2020

People benefiting from apprenticeships

More than 130,000 people have benefited from apprenticeships in the past five years.

Read more

News 2 March 2020

Blog: Talent Without Limits

To mark the launch of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020, SDS Chief Executive Damien Yeates explains why it's never been more important to highlight the value of work-based learning.

Read more

News 2 March 2020

Finance Minister meets cyber apprentices at start of Scottish Apprenticeship week

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes visited Capgemini in Inverness to help launch Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020.

Read more

News 1 March 2020

#ScotAppWeek20 blog: Joe Pacitti, Managing Director, Centre for Engineering Education & Development Scotland

As part of a series of contributed blogs to support Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020, Managing Director of the Centre for Engineering Education & Development Scotland (CeeD), Joe Pacitti outlines the benefits of embracing diversity in the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Read more

News 1 March 2020

#ScotAppWeek20 blog: Ruby Lawrence, Who Cares? Scotland

As part of a series of contributed blogs to support Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020, Manager of Lifelong Learning at Who Cares? Scotland, Ruby Lawrence explains why voices of experience give employers confidence to recruit Care Experienced apprentices.

Read more

News 26 February 2020

Teachers: book an apprentice to talk to your pupils about work-based learning

Help your pupils find out about the skills needed by employers today and in the future - from successful and enthusiastic apprentices

Read more

News 25 February 2020

Transparency and employer leadership ‘at the heart’ of Scottish apprenticeships

Hear from Ruth Jennings, Group Apprenticeship Qualifications Manager for Sainsbury’s and Chair of the Apprenticeship Approvals Group - a new independent body, aimed at ensuring Scottish Apprenticeships meet the needs of employers.

Read more

News 17 February 2020

Blog: Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP on Foundation Apprenticeships

The Deputy First Minister outlines the importance of Foundation Apprenticeships for our future leaders

Read more

News 28 January 2020

Blog: Foundation Apprenticeships creating crucial skills pathways

Blog: Foundation Apprenticeships creating crucial skills pathways

Read more

News 24 January 2020

Research reveals Foundation Apprentices gaining vital skills to build workforce of the future

Latest research shows that young people are gaining the vital skills they need to equip them for the working world through Foundation Apprenticeships.

Read more

News 16 January 2020

Blog: Demand grows for Graduate Apprenticeships as more employers back work-based learning

SDS Chief Executive Damien Yeates explains why more and more employers are using Graduate Apprenticeships to develop and retain their talent.

Read more

News 13 January 2020

UK admissions service rates work-based learning a key factor in Foundation Apprenticeships

Work-based learning through Foundation Apprenticeships has been given further recognition through the UK’s education admissions service, UCAS.

Read more

News 13 December 2019

OECD begins study of the Scottish Work-based Learning system

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) began their SDS-commissioned research on the Scottish work-based learning system with a four-day trip to Scotland from 25-28 November.

Read more

News 12 December 2019

Blog: Heather Earnshaw on progress in challenging career choice bias

Heather Earnshaw, who leads Education Scotland’s Improving Gender Balance and Equalities programme, blogs on progress in Scotland in challenging career choice bias in younger children.

Read more

News 12 December 2019

Employers at the forefront of new Apprenticeship Approval Group

The new independent group aimed at ensuring Scottish Apprenticeships meet the needs of employers has been established.

Read more

News 4 December 2019

Blog: Chief Executive, Early Years Scotland on SAAB's newly formed Gender Commission

Jean Carwood Edwards, Chief Exec of Early Years Scotland, talks about her role as a member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board’s newly formed Gender Commission, which seeks to tackle gender imbalance in the workplace through apprenticeships

Read more

News 12 November 2019

Foundation Apprentices take centre stage at Scottish Apprenticeship Awards

The benefits of work-based learning while at school through Foundation Apprenticeships were showcased at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards 2019.

Read more

News 8 November 2019

Seafood star Jordan reels in Scotland's Apprentice of the Year title

A talented Irvine teenager has netted the title of Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year 2019 after saving hundreds of thousands of pounds for his seafood manufacturer employer.

Read more

News 30 October 2019

University of Glasgow introduces Graduate Apprenticeship in IT: Software Development

University of Glasgow is welcoming its first cohort on the IT: Software Development Graduate Apprenticeship.

Read more