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Scottish businesses back apprenticeships

Employers across Scotland have underlined the importance of apprenticeships to their businesses.

2nd March 2020

A survey of apprenticeship employers showed that work-based learning boosts productivity and morale.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) surveyed more than 2,500 apprentice employers.

Benefits include 83 per cent of Modern Apprentice employers reporting apprenticeships improved productivity and 79 per cent said employing apprentices improved staff morale.

Overall, 96 per cent of employers surveyed said that they would recommend apprentices to their industry.

SDS’s survey of Graduate Apprentice employers also highlighted how apprenticeships are directly addressing their critical skills needs.

Of employers surveyed, 87 per cent said that Graduate Apprenticeships improved workforce sustainability, while 72 per cent highlighted developing skills and filling skills gaps as key benefits.

Chief Executive of SME technology firm Cortex Worldwide, Peter Proud, sees the benefits of work-based learning – particularly Graduate Apprenticeships.

He said: “The Scottish Government’s support for apprenticeships has really benefitted our business and helped us get the skills that we need.

“As a learner, a Graduate Apprenticeship gives you access to great education, leaves you without student debt and gives you an advantage over people who go down the traditional university route.

“I would just urge the Scottish Government to increase its focus on pushing apprenticeships and urge employers to embrace them in their business.”

Employers involved in Foundation Apprenticeships – working with pupils in S5 or S6 – also reported benefits.

From SDS’s survey, 80 per cent said that supporting Foundation Apprenticeships improved the image of their sector with young people; 78 per cent said they allowed them to upskill staff and 74 per cent said Foundation Apprentices brought new knowledge and skills to the business.

And 96 per cent of employers supporting Foundation Apprenticeships said they are a good way to develop the young workforce.

Stephen McNab, Apprentice Instructor at engineering firm GE Caledonian, said: “Foundation Apprenticeships are our main talent pipeline. We get an idea of potential and without doubt it helps us find the right people.

“We have an ageing workforce at GE Caledonian, bringing apprentices into the business means we can grow our own talent for the future.”

SDS Chair Frank Mitchell said: “Demand from employers continues to drive the development and growth of Scottish Apprenticeships.    

“Scottish Apprenticeships create opportunities for everyone no matter their background and for every business no matter its size or sector.     

“Looking towards a future increasingly disrupted by technological and societal changes, work-based learning has never been more relevant for supporting people into highly productive and sustainable jobs. 

“We are facing ever-growing demand for Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships from employers, demonstrating that work-based learning is crucial to meeting critical skills gaps.”   

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