School pupils to build career with new foundation apprenticeship

West Lothian picPupils in West Lothian and Highland secondary schools are set to benefit from a new foundation apprenticeship in construction which has been launched at the new Forth crossing.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Skills Development Scotland have been working with local employers, schools and West Lothian and Inverness Colleges to develop the Foundation Apprenticeship in construction.

From August 2015 up to 50 S5 pupils in West Lothian and the Highlands will enrol on the foundation apprenticeship, which is modelled on the existing Modern Apprenticeship in civil engineering and offers pupils the opportunity to complete the first year of a Modern Apprenticeship whilst still in full-time education.

The Foundation Apprenticeship is the first of its kind in construction and will provide young people with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and industry-recognised qualifications alongside Highers and Advanced Highers.

The colleges involved are keen to break down some of the real and perceived barriers to a career in construction. West Lothian College has set a target of securing 50 per cent participation from female pupils.

The Foundation Apprenticeship in construction has already been recognised as a formal route into a professional career by industry bodies including the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Civil Engineers Contractors Association (CECA). Students completing the Foundation Apprenticeship can gain direct entry into the second year of a Modern Apprenticeship, improve their chances of gaining entry to college or university, or go directly into employment.

Phil Ford, strategic partnerships director for CITB Scotland said: “This new Foundation Apprenticeship will help young people make the transition from school into work by giving them a range of vocational skills and knowledge that will make them more employable. Progression routes at the senior phase of school have been a key theme in the Youth Employment Strategy and CITB is delighted to be supporting this innovative new initiative.”

Neville Prentice, senior director of service development & delivery at Skills Development Scotland said: “It is fitting that the launch of the foundation apprenticeship in construction should be launched at the new Forth Crossing – Scotland’s largest infrastructure project. The expansion of foundation apprenticeships will play a major role in tackling youth unemployment and ensuring that young people have the education, skills and work experience they need, and employers want and we have been impressed with the high levels of interest from young people keen to kick-start their career in construction.

“Our ambition is to expand foundation apprenticeships across Scotland, focussing on key growth sectors of the economy. Through strategic partnerships with CITB, West Lothian College, Inverness College, and by working with local schools, employers, pupils and parents we plan to create many more foundation apprentices and build Scotland’s reputation as a global leader in construction.”

Colin Miller, head of essential skills and progression at West Lothian College said: “I am delighted to work with partners on this innovative project. This programme provides us with an alternative option to our standard delivery modes, and at the same time makes a valuable contribution to developing Scotland’s young workforce, for the benefit of all.”

ICE Scotland’s regional director, Sara Thiam added: “As an industry, we are rediscovering the value of the apprenticeship route for attracting, retaining and diversifying talent in our businesses. Young people joining companies from school and being supported through college and university make for excellent engineers and show greater company loyalty.”

Alan Watt, chief executive of CECA Scotland, said: “Civil engineering companies support the introduction of the Foundation Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering as it offers young people practical experience of the sector at school age, whilst also providing the first step to a long and rewarding career as a civil engineer.”

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