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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.

This week will see hundreds of employers and thousands of apprentices celebrate the benefits of work-based learning during Scottish Apprenticeship Week. 

With the strong backing of employers and learning providers across the country, the campaign has grown exponentially over the last decade. 

Starting from just a couple of small events in 2011, Scottish Apprenticeship Week has become an annual fixture for many, raising the profile of apprenticeships across a full range of media. 

Heading into #ScotAppWeek20, my sense is that there’s never been a more important time to profile the benefits of work-based learning.   

With public discourse focused around major societal changes like Brexit, the climate emergency, and the pace of technological change, there’s growing awareness that the education and skills system needs to respond and adapt. 

At SDS we’re incredibly optimistic that Scotland and its people can thrive in this rapidly changing future, one with a focus on productivity and well-being as a combined measure of success. But it should be recognised that we will need to increase our investment in building the adaptive resilience of our businesses and individuals.

In short, we need to create a whole system which is strong because it is mobile, dynamic and agile.

To that end it’s hugely encouraging that a growing consensus is emerging around the need for greater emphasis on the primacy of people - on the unique skills and characteristics that make us human.

These ‘meta-skills’ - problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity and leadership - are the skills we will all need to drive innovation, create adaptability and resilience, encourage entrepreneurial behaviour and ensure our future success.

And the workplace is the right environment to support the development of these skills.

In recent years the Scottish Government has shown genuine leadership in developing the capability of the Scottish skills system through its ambitious expansion of work-based learning.   

As well as backing a significant growth in Modern Apprenticeships, we have seen the rapid expansion of Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships. And the innovation continues with the new Foundation Apprenticeships at Levels 4 and 5

This leadership has already started to receive global recognition as a world-class innovation.   

And with over 96% of apprentice employers recommending them, Scottish Apprenticeships continue to have the backing of business in supporting their critical skills needs.   

This is evidenced in recent uptake in the rapidly expanding and highly productive FinTech sector, where Graduate Apprenticeships are directly addressing critical skills gaps in dynamic areas like cyber security and data analysis. 

To provide a human answer to the challenges facing our economy we all - SDS, Scottish Government, business and education - must continue to expand and strengthen the work-based learning offer to our people. 

The benefits of apprenticeships to employers

The benefits of apprenticeships to employers

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