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24 May 2022

Employers develop a new future for Scotland’s engineering sector

Work-based learning Employers Apprenticeships STEM
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Scotland’s major engineering and manufacturing sector has developed a new apprenticeship providing skills in emerging technologies that it can adopt and leverage to thrive.

The Apprenticeship in Engineering and Digital Manufacturing has been created to ensure that Scotland and its employers have the skills necessary to prosper in a digital manufacturing environment. The apprenticeship is the first of its kind to incorporate training in Artificial Intelligence, 3D modelling and data science.

Responds to sector need

The apprenticeship signifies an important step in developing the Scottish Manufacturing industry, which accounts for more than 169,000 jobs, over half of Scotland’s international exports and 47% of businesses expenditure on research and development*.

Employers across the sector including Mitsubishi, Baker Hughes, Leonardo, Aggreko and Volvo were involved in the development of the apprenticeship, which was co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and supported by the sector skills body Enginuity, Unite the Union and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

This apprenticeship has been designed for an emerging role that needs skills for using the latest technology and has sustainability at its core as manufacturers develop a net zero roadmap.

Billy Scott

Sector Manager for Climate and High Value Manufacturing, Skills Development Scotland

Designed for an emerging role

The creation of the new apprenticeship came in response to calls from University of Strathclyde operated NMIS and employers from across the sector, who need both existing and new staff to be trained in key, emerging technologies.

Its development supports Scottish Government strategies to drive the economy including the Future skills: action plan and Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transition.

The process to develop the apprenticeship itself incorporated innovative data science techniques and research, by gathering intelligence from examples of international best practice, world-wide job adverts and skills taxonomies.

SDS Sector Manager for Climate and High Value Manufacturing, Billy Scott said: “Scotland’s engineering and advanced manufacturing sector has been identified as key for securing a strong economy. It’s crucial to safeguard and support the current wealth of existing and new talent in the sector by giving them the skills to ensure businesses can continue to innovate and compete on a global scale now and in the future.

“This apprenticeship has been designed for an emerging role that needs skills for using the latest technology and has sustainability at its core as manufacturers develop a net zero roadmap.”

The content within this Apprenticeship qualification ensures the future proofing of our business and fulfils our forward needs.

Jim Duffy

Apprentice and Skills Manager, Aggreko

Supports existing skills and new recruits

The new apprenticeship has been designed to be flexible. It enables individuals employed in the engineering and manufacturing sectors to build on their existing skills and experience, provides upskilling and career progression opportunities for those who have previously completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering (SCQF Level 6) and also provides cutting edge skills for entry level and school leaver recruits.

In addition, SDS and NMIS will work to explore how the capabilities identified in the apprenticeship can be used by employers for wider workforce development - further helping to future proof a vital part of Scotland’s economy.

Each year, around 1600 individuals start a Modern Apprenticeships in Engineering.Employers and industry experts involved in the development of the apprenticeship have indicated demand for uptake to be high.

Jim Duffy, Apprentice and Skills Manager at Aggreko said: “Aggreko is looking to bring emerging technologies and trends together, to help generate the benefits of reshaping how people interact with the ever-changing world around them.

“The content within this Apprenticeship qualification ensures the future proofing of our business and fulfils our forward needs.

“Apprenticeships are key to developing the skills, Technical and Meta, that will drive the significant structural change for the Energy Transition to net zero, whilst remaining competitive.”

Skills Development Scotland is now due to identify learning providers across the country who will implement the training of the SCQF Level 8 qualification alongside the in-work experience apprentices will receive from their employers.

Addressing net-zero ambitions

Robin Ashton, Vice Principal of Glasgow Kelvin College said "Glasgow Kelvin College recognises the impact of digital technologies on the work of the engineering and manufacturing employers we support. We are keen to offer our students training opportunities which best respond to these emerging needs. We therefore welcome the introduction of this new apprenticeship which develops the skills required in this fast-paced environment."

NMIS, in partnership with SDS, is hosting a free webinar about the new apprenticeship for employers, apprentices and learning providers on Tuesday, 31 May.

Stewart McKinlay, Skills Director, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland said: “The skills landscape is changing at a rate never before experienced, in particular in relation to digital technology advances and the need to move towards net-zero. If the manufacturing sector in Scotland is to realise its full potential, we need to have the right people in with the right skills at the right time.

“This new apprenticeship was developed to provide a new pathway for learners to train in the skills needed for the future, based on the in-depth consultation with industry and leading researchers. NMIS fully understands the importance in engaging industry at the earliest opportunity for effective training development and it’s great to have this approach embedded within the new apprenticeship frameworks.”

The creation of the Apprenticeship in Engineering and Digital Manufacturing is part of a renewal of all Scottish Apprenticeships taking place over the next three to five years.

The development programme changes the existing system of apprenticeship development and delivery, so that employers can take ownership of the design and construction of apprenticeships to ensure they are relevant, adaptable and create the skills they need. 

Information about the redevelopment of Scottish Apprenticeships and the new Engineering and Digital Manufacturing Technical Apprenticeship is available on

To register attendance to the one hour NMIS webinar at 11am on Tuesday, 31 May visit the Eventbrite page.

Technical Apprenticeship in Engineering and Digital Manufacturing

  • Four year apprenticeship for new recruits

  • Those who have achieved the Engineering Modern Apprenticeship SCQF Level 6 can complete in up to two years

  • Employees with relevant skills and experience also able to take the apprenticeship

  • Supports progression to graduate level study, particularly, the Graduate Apprenticeship in Engineering: Design and Manufacture

Visit for information about the Technical Apprenticeship in Engineering and Digital Manufacturing.

Employers interested in getting involved in the redevelopment of Scottish Apprenticeships can find out more information and the online form to register interest on the employer area of