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Foundation Apprenticeship put Nathan on road to success

Apprenticeships Work-based learning Foundation apprenticeships

Highland teenager Nathan MacDonald is on track for a career in mechanics thanks to a successful apprenticeship he took at school that led to a job with Inverness Kart Raceway.

On course for career

Seventeen-year old care-experienced Nathan, from Inverness, started his SCQF Level 4 Foundation Apprenticeship in mechanics in August 2020 as a subject choice at Glen Urquhart High School.

As part of his apprenticeship Nathan gained experience with the social enterprise karting track, which is part of youth mentoring charity, DAY1.

Nathan finished the apprenticeship in June 2021 and is now firing on all cylinders having got a job with the track, while studying mechanics at college.

Nathan says: “I was at school and wanting to learn more about mechanics. I heard about the Foundation Apprenticeship through my guidance teacher and next thing I knew I was at the Kart Raceway doing the course.

Foundation Apprentice Of The Year Nathan Macdonald 067

Opened doors

“The Foundation Apprenticeship was a great opportunity and opened up so much more for me. Getting a job at the track is one of the best things for me. During my Foundation Apprenticeship I definitely got more confident working on cars. I gained personal skills by speaking to new people.”

Foundation Apprenticeships are subject choices that provide pupils with the skills employers need with a work-based learning qualification up to the same level as a Higher.

A pilot programme of Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4 and 5 are for S3-S6 pupils.

Nathan added: “A Foundation Apprenticeship is definitely a good choice. It gives you experience and opens up a lot of things for you. If I got asked in the street about the apprenticeship I would be telling people to get themselves in there. It's a great opportunity.”

Nathan's achievements have seen him recognised as Foundation Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by the Scottish Funding Council, at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards. 

Growth in confidence

Corrin Henderson, chief executive of the DAY1 mentoring charity that works with vulnerable young people, says: “Nathan showed a genuine spark of interest when he came to us. He had a good attitude and we nurtured that as a charity, employer and trainer. He matured and grew in confidence during his Foundation Apprenticeship. He's more resilient now with very firm ideas about his future.”

Peter Doherty, general manager at Inverness Kart Raceway says that the go-kart business provides the majority of DAY1's funding.

Peter says: “To give back I decided to put the course together at the track and it gained attention from schools, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, who certified it, and funding from Skills Development Scotland.

“The Foundation Apprenticeship does a lot for children. It can provide a pathway into college, employment or some may decide to stay at school.”

First step of career

Foundation Apprentices also provide a pipeline of young talent for Inverness Kart Raceway.

Peter says: “We've taken on a few of the children from the Foundation Apprenticeship. When they come into the class they're predominately a bit shy at first. But they bring a good amount of energy to the track when they start firing on all cylinders. And it's good to see them collaborating and getting onto the first rung of the employment ladder.”

In its first year the Inverness Kart Raceway apprenticeship had more than 60 young people and this has increased to 80 in its second year. The business has around 20 employees, with six of them full-time.

Corrin added: "I would say the main benefits of Foundation Apprenticeships are the meta skills, or soft skills, that young people are learning from being in a class environment that is practical, nurturing and fun, such as communication, self-management and team working. These work-based skills are a big part of a Foundation Apprenticeship.”

Scottish Apprenticeship Awards

View the full list of Scottish Apprenticeship Awards winners here.