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More young people across Scotland will get the opportunity to gain work-based learning qualifications at school through the expansion of a pilot programme of Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4 and 5.

Skills Development Scotland and SQA are working with selected learning providers across the country who will be offering S3 to S6 pupils in partner schools the chance to gain both personal development and accredited skills in a work-based context.

Skills Development Scotland currently delivers Foundation Apprenticeships in schools across all 32 local authorities at SCQF Level 6.

One of the ways identified by the Scottish Government to improve Scotland’s productivity and meet future skills challenges is by extending work-based learning to all levels (SCQF levels 4-11) through apprenticeships.

In its work to address this, SDS looked at a vocational offer in schools that created closer links with employers. 

Developing meta-skills

The pilot programme of SCQF Level 4 and 5 Foundation Apprenticeships enables young people to achieve a work-based learning qualification at an earlier stage in their learning.

The pilot is part of the development to extend the reach of the Foundation Apprenticeship offer of the future.

Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 aim to enable individuals to identify and develop meta-skills such as communication, creativity and self-management that can contribute to work readiness and create high performing employees.

The programme is also enabling employers to make a structured contribution to school learning by providing real life work-based situations that add value to learning and provides a pathway that articulates to other work-based qualifications available in the Senior Phase and beyond, such as Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships.

Innovative model

A pilot model, due to commence from this month, will be resourced in partnership with schools, employers and learning providers to provide expertise, knowledge and work-based learning.

Learning providers will deliver opportunities across Automotive Skills, Hospitality and Construction in either an existing Skills for Work or a National Progression Award.

An innovative aspect of this pilot model is the inclusion of a Work-based Challenge Unit, with pupils working in teams with a local employer to design, develop and deliver a project whereby learners identify and deploy their meta-skills alongside the technical skills required by the project.

More access to work-based learning

SDS Director of Critical Skills and Occupations, Diane Greenlees said: "Foundation Apprenticeships are creating more confident young people with the critical skills and relevant qualifications for the workplace.

“SDS is committed to working with SQA and partners to widen opportunities for more young people to benefit from Work-based Learning and bring education and employers closer together.

“The pilot programme offering Work-based Learning in schools at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 focuses on developing meta-skills that are both personal and practical and contribute to work readiness and our ambition is to create a final model that will be embedded into the Scottish school curriculum.”

SQA Director of Qualifications Development, Dr Gill Stewart said “SQA welcomes the opportunity to undertake this partnership work with SDS to pilot meta-skills in Foundation Apprenticeships.

“This type of collaboration is at the core of our future qualifications development which will involve a greater emphasis on meta-skills and opportunities for work-based learning. This will enable us to support young people prepare for their career and provide career development opportunities for those already in employment.”


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