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Since it started delivering Foundation Apprenticeships in 2019, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has continued to grow its opportunities and enrolled 78 pupils at the start of this academic year.

The authority works closely with local education providers and has developed a customised Foundation Apprenticeship timetable with all four Western Isles secondary schools.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar also works closely with local employers to ensure that all Foundation Apprentices gain quality work experience and a positive classroom experience.

Last month, the Creative and Digital Media Foundation Apprenticeship class commenced their work experience placement at An Lanntair arts centre. This was a significant moment for the authority following more than a year of virtual placement.

Putting young people first

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) Director for Education, Uilleam Macdonald said: “Last month, the Creative and Digital Media Foundation Apprenticeship class commenced their work experience placement at An Lanntair arts centre. This was a significant moment for the authority following more than a year of virtual placements.

“During this difficult time the success of the programme has relied on the creativity, dedication and support of the authority’s training officers.

“This young person-centred approach complies with the 10-year corporate vocational education strategy, based on the principles of equity, personalisation and choice and labour market intelligence. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has achieved the highest outcomes in terms of vocational educational attainment rate of 32 local authorities for each of the seven years of the Developing the Young Workforce’s (DYW) national Young Employment Strategy.”

Mairi MacMillan

Currently, the council delivers eight Foundation Apprenticeship frameworks and, during a visit to the Western Isles in August, Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, met with pupils taking the Creative and Digital Media and Childcare frameworks.

Following the completion of her Social Services Children and Young People Foundation Apprenticeship, Mairi Macmillan of Benbecula (pictured) has taken up a position as a Modern Apprentice with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

The former Sgoil Lionacleit pupil is now working at Balivanich Nursery. Mairi said: “I have always wanted a career in childcare and when I saw the option to study a Foundation Apprenticeship I jumped at the chance. Putting the skills and knowledge I have learnt in class into practice within a work placement has helped me so much.”

Amy Emmott completed the Gaelic Creative and Digital Media Foundation Apprenticeship course and is now a Digital Assistant Modern Apprentice with Dundee City Council.

I have always wanted a career in childcare and when I saw the option to study a Foundation Apprenticeship I jumped at the chance. Putting the skills and knowledge I have learnt in class into practice within a work placement has helped me so much.

Mairi MacMillan, Social Services Children and Young People Foundation Apprentice

Amy said: “I’ve had the chance to work with and interview experts in the field while learning how to use the Adobe suite and operate professional cameras.

“This course helped me find something that I’m passionate about and really enjoy.”

The Gaelic delivery of the course allowed Amy to develop her ability to communicate effectively in the language.

Championing employability

While in the Western Isles, Jamie Hepburn MSP took time to officially open the Western Isles Employability Hub.

Situated in Stornoway Town Hall, the hub plays host to the training, education, and development of young people of the Western Isles.

The Employability Hub and DYW-Live, operated nationally by CnES, provide equity of provision throughout Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra and beyond.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Chair of Education, Skills and Children Services, Councillor Paul Steele said: “All Foundation Apprentices sit within the Western Isles Employability Hub.

“Through Developing the Young Workforce Outer Hebrides they have a link to employers across the Western Isles; through SDS they are offered career support and guidance; through the No One Left Behind and Young Person’s Guarantee teams they can access training, funding, information, and support.”

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