Foundation Apprenticeships

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th September 2017.

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Photo of Gail Ross Gail Ross Scottish National Party

7. To ask the Scottish Government how many foundation apprenticeships there are. (S5O-01291)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

We are committed to providing up to 5,000 foundation apprenticeship places by 2019. This year, we are already expanding the availability of foundation apprenticeships, and we are ensuring that they are available in all local authority areas.

Foundation apprenticeships are an additional choice for every pupil who sees the value in work-based learning. They are a new way for young people to learn, with the chance to get a head start in a career by gaining industry-recognised qualifications, working on real projects and gaining real experience that employers look for. The programme is designed to provide a challenging vocational learning experience with a focus on developing skills that employers and learners need.

For 2016-18, a total of 354 foundation apprenticeship starts were registered by the end of September 2016. In the coming weeks, we will be in a position to confirm the number of requested starts for 2017-19 foundation apprenticeships.

Photo of Gail Ross Gail Ross Scottish National Party

The developing the young workforce initiative and the foundation apprenticeship scheme are bringing together schools, colleges and the business sector to give young people more opportunities when they are at school and when they leave it. Are there any barriers to accessing foundation apprenticeships? Are there any plans to introduce them in other sectors?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

Gail Ross mentioned the developing the young workforce initiative. That is, of course, a critical element in ensuring that pupils come out of school better prepared for the world of work, and does indeed involve close engagement with employers. Ms Ross was quite right to talk about the business sector, but the initiative is, of course, across all sectors—the public, private and third sectors. It brings close engagement between employers and the educational environment.

I have been very fortunate and privileged to have gone to the Highlands and Islands to see some of the great work that is being done there. I was not in Ms Ross’s specific area, but if she would like me to visit there, I would be very happy to do so.

Foundation apprenticeships are a critical element of our developing the young workforce offer. About 400 foundation apprenticeship places are being provided in the Highlands and Islands this year. That offer is increasingly important. We are determined to grow not only the number of foundation apprenticeships, but the number of opportunities. Currently, 10 frameworks are in place, and there will shortly be 12: from 2018, there will be two new frameworks in accountancy and in food and drink operations. That demonstrates our commitment to the scheme and our determination to further embed it as an important part of the school experience.

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

It was interesting to hear the minister’s reply to the question. Unlike with modern apprenticeships, no statistics or numbers are published on a regular quarterly or even annual basis for foundation apprenticeships or, indeed, for graduate apprenticeships. Will the minister undertake to ensure that that information is made available, as the programme develops?

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

I am glad that the minister mentioned the Highlands and Islands. Unlike in the two pilot projects, in which there were seven choices, there are only two subject choices for young people in Kirkwall, Lerwick, Stornoway and Thurso, and young people in Elgin currently have only three. Can the minister assure me that the Scottish Government is committed to increasing the subject choices that are available for young people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities?

The Presiding Officer:

That was admirably brief.