Young people have much to offer and Modern Apprenticeships can bring it out

I WAS disappointed to read coverage of a recent survey on apprenticeships by the Prudential (The Scotsman, 29 February).

To suggest that only one in ten prospective apprentices didn’t think it led to a recognised qualification hardly represents a “widespread misconception” when you consider that the flipside to that is that nine out ten know that it does.

That to me is a very positive statistic and in the middle of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016, we should take every opportunity to highlight the benefits of Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) to employers and young people alike.

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In total, since this Government came into office in 2007, more than 190,000 MA starts have been delivered, which is a fantastic achievement. However, we are committed to doing even more to achieve our ambition of having 30,000 by 2020.

We work closely with Skills Development Scotland and other partners to highlight the opportunities available through the different apprenticeships on offer, allowing apprentices to learn the skills they will need in their chosen career, starting from school and going right through to graduate level qualifications. While they are proving increasingly popular, we will continue to promote them to young people and their families.

This week, myself and my ministerial colleagues will undertake a programme of more than 25 visits and events as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week to celebrate and showcase the positive impact apprenticeships have on businesses and industry, and the value they bring to employers and to their own job prospects.

This is evidence of the commitment of this government to the apprentice programme, as is our intention to deliver 26,000 more starts in 2016-17.

Roseanna Cunningham, MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work Skills and Training, Scottish Government

This week marks Scottish Apprenticeship Week. While we are keen to highlight the positive work the Scottish Government has done to get those young people with disabilities and care experience into Modern Apprenticeships, the figures indicate that just 0.41 per cent of starts in 2014-15 had a self-declared disability.

This is in the context of 8.6 per cent of the population in work in Scotland aged 16-24 who have a disability.

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We therefore welcome the government’s pledge to increase the proportion of MA starts for those with self-declared disability to match the percentage of disabled 16- 24-year-olds in the population by 2021, and to increase the number of those with care experience in MAs.

The rewards of getting these young people, many of whom boast excellent skills, into work are well worth it, with higher loyalty and retention rates as well as contributing to achieving sustainable economic growth. Through developing the talents of all our young people we can create a more equal society.

In recent years the Scottish Government has taken a number of positive and significant steps for young people in these categories, through the likes of the Employer Recruitment Incentive, but based on these Modern Apprenticeship figures we clearly need to do more.

We need better buy-in from employers as it is they who can make the vital difference. So, as we mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016 we would urge Scotland’s employers to “look beyond the label” when taking on a Modern Apprentice, or when looking at more general employment opportunities, and take advantage of the excellent skills offered by these young people.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

Tom McGhee,

Managing Director. Spark of Genius

Duncan Dunlop,

Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland

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Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland

Stuart Jacob

Director, Falkland House School

Christine Carlin

Chief Executive, Mindroom

Niall Kelly

Managing Director, Young Foundations

Liz May

National Co-ordinator, Action for Sick Children Scotland