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Glasgow Science Centre has successfully piloted the offering of a work-based learning qualification to school pupils through a virtual work experience, with more Foundation Apprenticeships created than first planned.

One of Scotland’s most successful visitor attractions has taken on 15 senior phase secondary pupils from across Glasgow to support them with gaining their SCQF Level 6 Foundation Apprenticeship.

Chosen as a subject in S5 or S6, Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Level 6 provide school pupils with both industry insight and experience of the world of work to gain a qualification at the same level as a Scottish Higher. 

Delivered by learning providers in partnership with employers, knowledge gained through a Foundation Apprenticeship is supported through a series of practical activities including industry projects and work placements undertaken virtually and in person.

This was the first academic year that Glasgow Science Centre has offered Foundation Apprenticeships, working with learning provider Glasgow Kelvin College to develop a virtual programme that met the qualification standards.

The online delivery model meant that the Centre was able to increase its number of places from three to 15.

Since September 2020, the Glasgow Science Centre has been delivering Foundation Apprenticeships across Creative and Digital Media, Engineering, Business Administration and Scientific Technologies.

Shakira Hastings, a Creative and Digital Media apprentice from Shawlands Academy, found out about Foundation Apprenticeships when she was considering subject options.

Explained Shakira: “My career advisor recommended it to me as I was interested in creating content and animation. She said the Foundation Apprenticeship is for you, and now I’m here at Glasgow Science Centre and things are just working well, everything is just great.

“You get treated as an adult more and get the experience to work with people who have the same interests as you; everyone is so easy to get along with.  

“The Foundation Apprenticeship is different from school as we are doing it because we enjoy it, we are more motivated to do the work because we are passionate about what we are doing.” 

Another Creative and Digital Media apprentice, Rahma Abdel Bari also found out about the Foundation Apprenticeship from her school careers advisor.

Shawlands Academy pupil Rhama said: “I had originally wanted to be an architect as I am good at maths and drawing, but after studying graphics at school I found out I didn’t like the technical drawing side of things, so I went to the careers advisor to get advice.  That’s when she told me about the Creative and Digital Media Foundation Apprenticeship. It’s good as I wanted to draw and be creative without restrictions and the apprenticeship allows me to do this via animation.”

In order to give the apprentices as much real-world experience as possible and to increase their involvement, they all had to prepare a job application and underwent a job interview process with the Centre.

Rahma said: “For everyone it was our first formal interview, I was so nervous for this, I thought the interview was going to be so strict, but the team at the centre were so friendly. This will help us in going for interviews in the future.”

The apprentices involved have been really impressed with the real-life tasks they have been given as part of their apprenticeship, with their work also contributing to the output of the Centre.

Rahma added: “I now know how to animate better. At the start I didn’t know how to do that at all, but the lecturer was really great. The Foundation Apprenticeship made me really like animation and I have found a thing I really like doing, and I can use these skills on the content we are creating at Glasgow Science Centre.”

Gaining practical experience was the main reason Williamwood High School pupil, Ewan McCall took the Business Administration Foundation Apprenticeship. He explained: “I liked the sound of it when I heard that it wasn’t all academic based, that you actually got to do work and have a real experience of work. 

“At the start I was mainly administrative and now I’m working more with the creative and digital team to work together and get better results.  I enjoy working with the rest of the team to create content. My role is organising things, it has been much more enjoyable working with other young people my age on these projects. “

Ashley Byars from Glasgow Science Centre said: “It’s been great to be able to create a virtual model of our Foundation Apprenticeships to enable young people to gain experience of working and help them gain vital skills for the future.”

“We have greatly benefited from the ideas and perspectives of the Foundation Apprentices.”

“Getting involved in Foundation Apprenticeships has led to a higher awareness of how younger people view and experience the Centre and what messages and platforms might be particularly effective in targeting some audiences.”

Ashley Byars, Glasgow Science Centre

“GSC staff involved have really enjoyed getting to know the young students and watch their skills and confidence grow. It has also contributed to their professional development and leadership skills.”
 
Foundation Apprenticeships have been developed by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with industry and are funded by the European Social Fund.
 
Tony Minchella Skills Development Scotland said: “The partnership between Glasgow Kelvin College and Glasgow Science Centre has enabled young people to gain industry knowledge and experience and understand the different skills that can support one business.  
 
“The virtual delivery model gives pupils an authentic experience of the current and future workplace and opens up more opportunities for individuals to access a work-based learning qualification.”
 
Lisa Smith, Foundation Apprenticeship Project Manager from Glasgow Kelvin College said: “Glasgow Science Centre have been a fantastic partner and employer to work with over the past few years.
 
“This year has been particularly challenging for our employers and our students but with forward thinking and a new way of working the Glasgow Science Centre were able to provide the Foundation Apprenticeship students with a fantastic, real life work based experience across several different frameworks.
 
“This has played a vital role in supporting our senior phase pupils through their Foundation Apprenticeship journey and for that we cannot thank them enough and look forward to working with them again next year.”
 
To find out more information about taking on a Foundation Apprentice or to be one yourself visit apprenticeships.scot
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