Apprentice school – inspiring the next workforce
As well as attempts to link school careers advice and industry, more practical ways to inspire future generations are being explored.
Part of the Government’s new £3.8m funding for modern apprentices will be used to expand foundation apprenticeships, or ‘pathfinders’, which see pupils opt to do an apprenticeship instead of one of their Highers. The idea has been piloted in two local authorities this year, and it will be rolled out to a further 17 councils in the next academic year.
Skills Development Scotland chief executive Damien Yeates believes the academic learning in a foundation apprenticeship will prove to be “greater than a Higher”, but it will take time to convince parents. In the pilot schemes it has been sold as ‘added value’ for the time being.
“Imagine if you can say, ‘tell you what, I’ll drop the Higher in origami I was going to do, and I’ll do the first year in an apprenticeship in coding’, because you can do a software apprenticeship, and get an academic tariff as good as a Higher,” he says.
The number of foundation apprentices is expected to increase from 72 to 400 during the rollout, focusing on six priority sectors: engineering, construction, energy, social services and healthcare, financial services, and children and young people. Thirteen college partners will also be involved.
Communication between education and industry is also a primary function of Scotland’s innovation centres, but interestingly, only around half of them have skills programmes.
One sector which has traditionally looked for high-level graduates rather than training up its own specialists is life sciences, and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) held its own skills conference recently to find out what support they could give industry at all levels of the education pathway to get the workforce the industry needs.
IBioIC skills programme manager Dr Judith Huggan says the challenge is broad-ranging because Industrial Biotechnology (IB) is a broad sector, encompassing chemistry, life sciences and engineering. “We are spanning the educational pipeline with our skills programme, so we’re going at it from STEM, modern apprenticeships, HND through to Masters and PhD level. We’re trying to be as broad as possible,” she says.
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