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08 March 2024

Butcher Marc is a cut above as he’s named Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year

#ScotAppWeek24 Apprenticeships Modern apprenticeships

A craft butcher from Falkirk who credits his apprenticeship with changing his life has been named as Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year.

Marc Ingram picked up the Modern Apprentice of the Year SCQF Level 5 gong sponosored by SQA at the ceremony at the P&J Live in Aberdeen on Friday (8 March), before going on to win the overall prize.

Picking up the trophy, Marc said: “Winning this award is one of the best achievements of my life, from where I was a few years ago to where I am now, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. If you had told me this I would never have believed you. I feel like the most happiest person in the world right now and I’m going to take this with me for the rest of my life.

“My apprenticeship has been more valuable to me than anybody in this world will ever know; from where I was, a shy, 15 year old boy and not knowing if I’d ever have a stable job to ever move out the house, to be ready to buy my own house and have a car. It’s shown me that apprenticeships have done so much for me and I love it.”

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Marc, 18, worried about his career options when he left Falkirk High at 15 with few qualifications because of his dyslexia and ADHD.

The teenager applied for a Modern Apprenticeship in Food and Drink Operations (Butchery) through a school initiative and hasn’t looked back.

Working with a team of butchers at Blair Drummond Smiddy, Stirlingshire, helped him gain skills and competence in many aspects of the trade and inspired him to want his own shop one day.

He quickly became a key member of the team, completing his apprenticeship and playing a significant role in the 24% growth the business has achieved.

Marc said: “I used to feel so ashamed that I couldn’t read or write properly but doing the Modern Apprenticeship has totally changed my life.

“Being able to go into a workplace, earn money and learn at the same time was the best feeling ever. When I was younger, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to work or move out of home – I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

“I want other young people to know there are still great career pathways such as apprenticeships, even if school wasn’t for them.”

Marc Ingram Blair Drummond Smiddy 80

Marc passed his driving test, bought his own car and a motorbike and is now saving up to move into his own home.

He regularly receives glowing customer feedback, was invited by Quality Meat Scotland to share his journey on a webinar they hosted and has visited his old school to inspire other pupils to apply for apprenticeships.

Marc also applied the same dedication and determination in his personal life – successfully losing eight stone in a year.

The awards celebrate outstanding apprentices, their employers, instructors and mentors from across Scotland.

Blair Drummond Smiddy Farm Shop Fresh Counter Manager Fraser Sivewright said: “What Marc has done is just awe-inspiring – he really is the model butcher and I now lean on him as a senior colleague.

“I am immensely proud of Marc, his values and everything he brings to his work and the tremendous personal growth he has already achieved.”

Minister for Energy, Just Transition and Fair Work Gillian Martin, who presented Marc with his award, said: “Apprenticeships are a vital part of Scotland’s skills system, and key to supporting our young people into rewarding careers, while helping others upskill, reskill and progress in their chosen careers.

“The Scottish Government’s priority is to ensure that our apprenticeships are of high quality and lead to sustainable employment opportunities with fair work principles at the core.

“I congratulate Marc and all of the award finalists and winners. They are an inspiration and I wish them well in their future careers.”

Stand-out apprentices, employers, instructors and mentors from across Scotland were finalists across nine categories.

The awards are co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Chair of SDS, Frank Mitchell said: “Scottish Apprenticeships generate vital skills aligned to economic need, while supporting employers to develop new talent.

“The awards highlight the impact of apprentices across sectors, spotlighting the inspiring organisations and individuals who champion work-based learning.

“Apprenticeships also provide Scotland with a great social return by giving opportunities of enduring careers for many young people from Scotland’s most deprived areas.

“Congratulations to Marc, all the inspirational category award winners and finalists.”

SDS administers Modern Apprenticeship funding on behalf of the Scottish Government.

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Scottish Apprenticeship Award winners:

• SME Employer of the Year – sponsored by Well-Safe Solutions – RI Cruden

• Large Employer of the Year – sponsored by Anderson Strathern – Score Group

• Apprentice Instructor of the Year – William Andrew, South Ayrshire Council

• Supporting Net Zero Apprentice of the Year – Mandeep Singh, FES Group

• Apprentice Ambassador of the Year – sponsored by Arnold Clark – Missy-Anne Spence, Lloyds Banking Group

• Foundation Apprentice of the Year – sponsored by BAE Systems – Jennifer Emmanuel, Caimhill Primary School nursery

• Modern Apprentice of the Year SCQF L5 – sponsored by SQA – Marc ingram, Blair Drummond Smiddy butchers

• Modern Apprentice of the Year SCQF L6+ - Iona McGhee, Diageo