Apprentices are the key to all our futures

Constructing hope for young workers, says Graeme Ogilvy

Our apprenticeship officers take no greater satisfaction than when they introduce someone to their future career. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

CITB Scotland was a proud supporter of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014, organised by Skills Development Scotland to encourage many more employers to take on apprentices.

Our delivery managers, apprenticeship officers, and careers advisers spent last week expertly delivering dozens of construction-focussed events across the country, from Shetland to Stranraer and many cities and towns in between.

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What was very apparent, more than ever this year, was the collaborative, partnership approach, with so many different organisations working together for a common goal.

Construction industry employers, from family-run firms to multi-national organisations, backed the campaign along with training providers, colleges, councils, politicians and schools, making Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014 our most successful yet.

Of almost 160 events across the country, CITB Scotland was leading or involved in around a quarter and we were absolutely delighted with both turnout and feedback, in particular with that received from visiting politicians, from employers, from school pupils, and from apprentices themselves.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week gives us another chance to see that priceless moment when a young person suddenly discovers what it is that he or she wants to do.

With 93 per cent of our new apprentices in the past year aged 16-19, we are doing as much as we can to provide a future generation workforce for the industry as well as having a positive impact on youth employment in Scotland.

I believe it is the true variety of careers within the industry which often takes people by surprise and can shift the level of interest of a prospective apprentice up a notch.

Last week alone, our events promoted the skills and trades involved in bridge building, design, timber framing, traditional skills, technician roles, stonemasonry, plant, scaffolding, plastering and wall and floor tiling to name just a few.

Broad themes such as attracting more women into the Scottish construction industry or promoting the importance of health and safety via workshops also featured prominently at the many events held in conjunction with partners.

Our apprenticeship officers take no greater satisfaction than when they introduce someone to their future career, or see a spark of interest in something and think: “Yep, this could be the career for you.”

Our role last week was to offer help and advice on how to get started with an apprenticeship and to explain the support and funding that’s available.

Young people arriving at events having being encouraged to “get a trade” need to be encouraged and to be shown as wide a range of opportunities as possible.

Someone who arrives knowing only about joinery or roofing might find they’re more interested in being a stonemason, a career they knew nothing about.

That’s why we were so active telling employers and young people how to go about becoming or taking on an apprentice. It’s part of our ongoing effort to show people the fantastic opportunities available to them through a career in construction.

Apprenticeships are the future of construction. The skills shortage we face is well documented so it’s crucial we help employers to attract new talent. Scottish Apprenticeship Week is the ideal time for us to show how CITB Scotland can help.

An apprenticeship is a great start to a career, which is what makes the week of events we have just hosted so valuable. We thank everyone involved who made it such a success.

Young people have discovered many exciting jobs they might never even have heard of. More employers now know what we can offer them in terms of training and funding.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week gave us that perfect opportunity to showcase the many skills, occupations and opportunities available to young people who might now be considering a job in the construction industry.

• Graeme Ogilvy is director of CITB Scotland,