The new figures have been released by the Scottish Building Apprenticeship &Training Council (SBATC), the body responsible for registering all apprentices from the traditional building trades in Scotland.
The 2014 registration figure is 20% higher than the number of Scottish building apprentices indentured in 2012, when numbers reached a 15-year low of 1,299. But apprentice numbers remain 42% below their historic peak of more than 2,700 apprentices registered in 2007, immediately before the recession.
The apprentice registration figures were released as latest official statistics showed that the Scottish construction industry employed 6,000 fewer workers at the end of 2014 than it had at the end of 2013, taking direct employment within the sector to 177,000. This fall in industry employment was recorded during a year when overall output from the industry actually increased by 16%, taking its overall value to the Scottish economy to more than £12bn.
Commenting on the latest apprentice registration figures, Paul Mitchell, SBATC registrar and head of employment affairs at the Scottish Building Federation, said: “Apprenticeship numbers in the traditional building trades are continuing to improve following six years of decline between 2007 and 2012. We hope and anticipate that this trend will continue over subsequent years as the industry continues to recover.
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A Scottish business support group yesterday published an action plan urging the energy industry to invest in youth and target more women.
It is aimed at making sure the sector, which is in the grip of job and spending cuts after a plunge in oil prices, is ready to grasp new opportunities when they arise.
Training and business group Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is asking companies to take a long-term view of employment in its latest skills investment plan (SIP), which strives to build on an earlier version produced in 2011.
SIP calls for companies to attract female trainees by bringing in more flexible working practices, and for schools to focus more on promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
It also makes the case for the creation of more work experience and apprenticeship opportunities, and for more attention to be given to the professional development of workers.
Work, Skills and Training Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the sector played a vital part in Scotland’s economic growth and needed to get away from its perceived “boy’s club” image.
She was speaking at energy sector supplier Hydrasun’s facility in Aviemore, which recently benefited from a £3million investment and, according to SDS, has a “long track record” of investing in skills and workforce development.
Ms Cunningham said: “Today’s report has been backed by industry, education and enterprise and pulls together a range of actions to ensure we can plan for a prosperous future.
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The UK’s leading producers of fish and seafood have been named Youth Employer of the Month on the one-year anniversary of the Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) Awards.
Dawnfresh received the SDS Award when Youth and Women’s Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing visited the company’s Uddingston headquarters in March. The Awards are given to businesses that show continuous commitment to getting young people into work.
Chairman of SDS, John McClelland CBE, said: “Dawnfresh consistently displays the core values which define our Youth Employer of the Month Award and I congratulate them on receiving the award at this time. The company’s commitment to young people and the importance it has placed on offering valuable employability training and apprenticeship opportunities is to be commended.”
Uddingston-based Dawnfresh recruited Modern Apprentices through the food and drink sector’s Tasty Jobs initiative, which incorporates SDS’s Certificate of Work Readiness employability qualification.
Ms Ewing said: “Since starting the Awards SDS has recognised the tremendous investment shown by companies from Shetland to the Scottish Borders, in sectors such as life sciences and finance and by organisations of all sizes from global companies to micro businesses.
A Scottish family dairy firm plans to build a £20m new facility in Stirling, creating 450 new jobs.
Graham’s The Family Dairy has revealed plans to build a new dairy, research and training facility at Craigforth.
The 150,000 sq ft facility would include production lines for milk, cream, cheese and butter as well as a research centre for developing new products.
The Graham family has been farming in Stirlingshire for five generations.
It currently operates a dairy at Airthrey Kerse in Bridge of Allan, a processing plant in Nairn and depots throughout Scotland.
The firm, which had a turnover of £85m in 2014, hopes to finance the new facility via a development of 600 houses, community amenities and a primary school on their land at Airthrey Kerse, which drew some local opposition and is currently awaiting planning permission from the council.
The new centre would see 400 new jobs across sectors including processing, research, design, logistics, marketing, administration and management, as well as creating 50 apprenticeships locally.
It could produce 350 million litres of milk every year, with the fast-expanding firm already churning out more than 700,000 pints a day. The dairy at Airthrey Kerse would remain open, concentrating on producing butter and ice cream as well as acting as the Grahams’ family home.
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Two new rail franchises have started in Scotland as successors to the FirstGroup contract which was launched more than a decade ago.
The main franchise remains known as ScotRail and is run by Abellio, the international arm of Dutch Railways.
The Caledonian Sleeper services, which have been part of the main ScotRail franchises since 1997, become separate for the first time and are being operated by Serco.
The original ScotRail franchise between 1997 and 2004 was won by National Express Group. First has been granted more than one extension to its contract since it took charge in October 2004, but managing director Steve Montgomery is staying in his post in spite of the change of ownership.
The new franchise is being formally launched at Stirling on Wednesday by Scottish transport minister Derek Mackay, who is promising ‘an exciting special offer available to all passengers’. The new ScotRail will also be offering jobseekers free travel to interviews, plus a full month’s free travel when they secure a job. Other fare offers will include an expansion of the current Club55 concession to anyone aged 50 or more, while advance fares between any two Scottish cities will start from £5.
ScotRail is the biggest contract awarded by the Scottish Government, and is worth just over £6 billion.
Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government was clear that this franchise should be about more than delivering a rail service – it should be an enabler for growth and an important contributor to communities up and down the country.
“Abellio are getting this off to a great start by offering a huge helping hand to those looking for work. More people will now be able to benefit from the ScotRail 55+ concessionary scheme, which will now be available from the age of 50.”
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