Ms Sturgeon visited Lothian Buses this morning to launch Scottish Apprentice Week. As well as meeting with apprentices at the company, Ms Sturgeon posed for photos with Charmaine Laurie, who rose to fame after the bus driver averted potential disaster by swerving her double-decked vehicle out of harms way in the snow. Charmaine’s daring escape from danger was caught on camera and she grabbed headlines across the globe.
Posting on social media, Ms Sturgeon labelled the bus driver a “local hero”.
Ms Sturgeon also said that the Scottish Government’s target to deliver 27,000 new modern apprenticeship opportunities in 2017/18 is on track.
New figures show that by the end of December more than 18,700 apprentices had started their training across Scotland.
The target will be increased to 28,000 in 2018/19 and for the first time will include graduate apprenticeships. The move will mean people can study for university-level qualifications while in paid full-time employment.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Skills investment is a key contributor to our economic growth.
“That is why we have increased Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) funding by 7 per cent to £193 million next year.
“We recognise the vital role skills can play in helping individuals realise their potential allowing our businesses to maximise growth opportunities both now and in future.
“Skills Development Scotland exists to create the conditions for businesses to increase productivity and growth, thereby helping deliver the skills that our people and economy need.”
Ms Sturgeon has also confirmed that the skills body is planning a national apprenticeship conference.
SDS chief executive Damien Yeates said: “The Year of Young People is the ideal time to hold Scotland’s first apprenticeship conference by apprentices for young people.
“The event will be Scotland’s biggest celebration of apprentices, showcasing the talent and achievements of young people who choose to work, learn and earn.”
Jim Armstrong, Lothian Buses Engineering Director said: “Our approach to apprentice training focuses on the key objective of future proofing our business and industry. We understand the importance and real value of helping develop technical and life skills amongst our young people to ensure that they go on to have successful lives and careers.
“Working with Skills Development Scotland and GTG Training, we have also invested at our own cost by taking on mature apprentices. We’ve had significant success in this and are the only bus company in Scotland to be doing this.
“Over the last twelve years, Lothian has trained over eighty apprentices and retained over thirty-one young apprentices and twenty four mature apprentices. Of them, I’m delighted to say, five have progressed their careers and are now in supervisory roles within our engineering department. We are totally committed to the ongoing development and success of our Apprenticeship Programme and look forward to a bright future.”
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