A national drive to recruit 27,000 new apprentices across Scotland by the end of the year is on track, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon said the young workers will play a vital role in boosting the economy as she visited Lothian Buses headquarters. New figures show that by the end of December more than 18,700 apprentices had started their training across Scotland. The statistics were highlighted to mark the launch of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.
“Skills investment is a key contributor to our economic growth,” Ms Sturgeon said. 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.”
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.
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 of young people who choose to work, learn and earn.”
Lothian Buses has trained more than 80 apprentices and retained more than 31 young apprentices and 24 mature apprentices.
Engineering director Jim Armstrong said: “I’m delighted to say, five have progressed their careers and are now in supervisory roles within our engineering department. We are committed to the ongoing development and success of our apprenticeship programme and look forward to a bright future. 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 SDS 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.”
The number of people starting a modern apprenticeship has increased by more than 500 since the same period last year. When compared with the end of Quarter 3 last year, there are now 529 more people enrolled in modern apprenticeships, a total of 18,774. Latest statistics also show there are over 500 more disabled people and 500 more people from BAME backgrounds.