Modern Apprenticeship gets Julie-Ann into her field of dreams
Shetlander Julie-Ann Murray went all out to get herself a Modern Apprenticeship on a sheep farm - and ended up running the show.
Julie-Ann, 21, was desperate to stay on the island and work with animals but faced a lack of opportunities and going to college on the mainland is very expensive.
So she persuaded a local farmer to take her on as an apprentice and can now be left in charge - easing her employer's burden while she builds her dream career.
The ex-Brae High School pupil, of North Roe, said: “Doing a full-time course would have meant being off the island for long periods - but we live on a croft and I didn’t want to leave everything for my dad to do. I also have my two dogs and a horse to look after.
“A full-time college course meant paying for accommodation and travel which is very expensive, so it didn’t work for me."
Julie-Ann’s youth and enthusiasm gives everybody a lift and she brings in fresh ideas. I was able to go on holiday for the first time in five years, confident that all the work would be done properly and the animals well looked after, thanks to Julie-Ann. She is a real asset.
Julie-Ann added: “The Modern Apprenticeship allows me to do what I love, gain experience and a qualification, and be more financially independent.
“I heard about Modern Apprenticeships from a Skills Development Scotland careers adviser at school and she put me in touch with the learning provider.”
Julie-Ann attends SRUC Barony Campus in Dumfries for five weeks a year and is progressing to a Level 6 Modern Apprenticeship.
Her jobs on farm include tending around 1,000 sheep, repairing fences and driving tractors. She quickly learned the signs of sickness in the animals and how to treat them – saving some from serious illness - and played a key role working round the clock in lambing season.
Farmer Pat Johnson, of I & P Johnson, said: “Julie-Ann’s youth and enthusiasm gives everybody a lift and she brings in fresh ideas.
“I was able to go on holiday for the first time in five years, confident that all the work would be done properly and the animals well looked after, thanks to Julie-Ann. She is a real asset.”
Designed with employers for employers
UHI Shetland Vocational Training Coordinator Janice Leask said: “Julie-Ann’s confidence has really improved throughout her Modern Apprenticeship and she has gained important life skills.”
After deciding not to leave the island, Julie-Ann explored other qualification routes including Modern Apprenticeships with Skills Development Scotland careers adviser Alison Shearer.
Alison linked Julie-Ann up with the training provider and helped her explore whether the employer she’d identified was the right one for her, as well as helping with her career management and confidence skills through five contacts while at school.
Modern Apprenticeships are jobs open to anyone aged 16 and over who wants to work, learn and earn. Apprentices spend most of their time learning in the workplace while being supported by a local college or specialist training provider to gain an industry recognised qualification.
Over 12,000 employers support Scottish Apprenticeships, which are work-based learning opportunities or jobs with industry-recognised qualifications.
Designed with employers for employers, Scottish Apprenticeships are demand-led and responsive to regional skills needs.
Julie-Ann's achievements led to her winning the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards Modern Apprentice SCQF Level 5 of the Year category, sponsored by Scotland's Apprentice Network, as well as being named Scotland's Apprentice of the Year.