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

Four apprentices, who are members of Scotland’s Apprentice Network, spoke about their role in sharing their apprentice success story with school pupils, teacher and parents.

Benefits of work-based learning

The Cross Party Group for Skills is chaired by Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP and other members include Deputy Convenor Beatrice Wishart, Robert Girven of the Construction Industry Training Board, Stuart McKenna of the Scottish Training Federation and Stephen Young of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.

During the meeting, the apprentices delivered a presentation, each outlining their pathway, their current role and the benefits that they have felt by choosing work-based learning as their chosen career pathway.

Inclusive membership

Scotland’s Apprentice Network is open to current and former apprentices who want to encourage young people to follow in their footsteps, with every school in Scotland to be linked with an apprentice from the network.

The Network is facilitated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

SDS is ensuring the inclusive recruitment of network members, from across the whole of Scotland, different sectors, industries and disciplines.

Network members will use their own first-hand experiences to communicate the benefits of Foundation, Modern and Graduate apprenticeships to young people, employers, parents, schools and other stakeholders at a local level, ensuring employers and schools can benefit from the national network.

“I’m now doing a Graduate Apprenticeship in Business Management and I want to tell other people making their career choices to think outside the box – think about an apprenticeship."

Jordan Fairlamb, Scotland's Apprentice Network member

Skills for the future

At the meeting, the apprentices were asked by the Cross Party Group what could be done to improve perception of apprenticeships, and to encourage others to see the opportunities that were on offer.

The topic of skills for the future and the influence of technology on jobs was also discussed, with apprentices explaining that through work-based learning, they gain exposure to the latest industry technologies and innovations, and therefore are able to keep their skillset current.

Apprenticeship shaping knowledge

Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year and Dawnfresh Seafoods Graduate Apprentice, Jordan Fairlamb spoke at the meeting.

Jordan said: “I knew I wanted to go into work straight away. For me, it was about earning a wage while learning and being involved in real projects from the start.

“I’m now doing a Graduate Apprenticeship in Business Management and I want to tell other people making their career choices to think outside the box – think about and apprenticeship.

“This is why I go out to schools as a member of Scotland’s Apprentice Network, to talk to pupils and be an example of what can be achieved.”

Another attendee, Rebecca Steel, is a vehicle technician Modern Apprentice at Arnold Clark. Rebecca said: “I gain exposure to the latest technology, every day as part of my apprenticeship.

“With advances in car technology, I am now learning about maintaining and fixing electric cars - a skill which will only be needed increasingly more in my industry, as electric vehicles take over.

“A lot of my older colleagues with years under their belt haven’t had exposure to this yet so I can actually help share my knowledge with some of my experienced colleagues.”

Industry experience

Another of the apprentices in attendance, Bethany Welsh, is a civil engineering Graduate Apprentice at Balfour Beatty.

Bethany said: “I really enjoyed speaking at the Scottish Parliament today and explaining why apprenticeships are just as important as further education.

“My friend, who is the same age, has just started working with me at Balfour Beatty, also doing civil engineering. We both now have degrees in the same discipline, but the difference is that I also have five years industry experience on top of my degree, because I chose a Graduate Apprenticeship over just going to university.”

Also in attendance and presenting was Melissa Jeffrey, qualified Business Administration Modern Apprentice at the Scottish Government.

A drop in session took place following the Cross Party meeting, to allow other MSPs to talk directly to the apprentices and better understand their choices, their pathway and the benefits that each of them have felt in their respective sectors.

Session attendees included Bill Bowman, MSP for the North East (pictured above).

More information

Current and former apprentices are being encouraged to sign up and join the network.

For more information and to become a member visit: apprenticeships.scot/network 

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