In a time of uncertainty, a helpline offering advice and help – plus a new school careers programme – have been launched by Skills Development Scotland

As the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic touches every aspect of our lives, learning how to cope with sudden changes has become important.

For many people, the changes to their working lives have left them uncertain about what lies ahead and what their future career might look like.

Recognising there’s never been a more crucial time for people to consider their career options, national skills agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has boosted its support for people whose jobs, learning or future choices have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week, the agency also launched an eight-week careers education programme, with a focus on STEM and cyber skills. 

Its aimed at primary pupils transitioning to secondary school - through all phases - to senior pupils deciding on their next steps. 

Working in partnership with local authorities and other local and national partners, SDS is able to offer expanded services to support people in a range of circumstances, including furloughed workers and those looking for or facing difficulties with employment.

Services include a helpline offering direct access to career support from expert advisers.
And career information and advice is available through Scotland’s online service, My World of Work, including a range of online learning courses and immediately available jobs. 

There’s also support with developing your CV, applying for jobs and links to national and local support services. School pupils and their parents and carers can also access the helpline and online support as they consider their options, whether staying on or preparing to leave school.

This enhanced support was welcomed by Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn. 

He said: “In these challenging times it is more important than ever that people in need of careers support can access the services they need. 

“I’m pleased that Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with local authorities, is providing this additional expert advice, enabling people to access support safely during the lockdown.” 

SDS’s expert careers advisers help customers to identify their skills, find out more about the labour market, and make informed decisions about their next steps to gain some control of what the future might hold for them. 

Free and impartial support from careers advisers is usually available in SDS’s centres across Scotland, and in every state secondary school but currently can be accessed online and through the helpline. 

James Russell, Director of Career Information, Advice and Guidance Operations at SDS, said: “The aim is to ensure that people can get the right support, at the right time and from the right person or organisation to help them progress and succeed.” 
James acknowledged that teachers, parents and carers are working through these unprecedented times and facing a wide variety of new challenges in the delivery of learning to young people across Scotland.  


James Russell, Director of Career Information, Advice and Guidance Operations at SDS


He said: “That’s why our services continue to adapt and evolve, why we’ve created our enhanced offer and the careers education programme to ensure we meet the changing needs of our customers through all the channels that are available to us.” 

In SDS’s careers education programme, the activities come with a lesson plan for teachers and learning resources for pupils that they can work on independently. These are a mixture of hands-on and online activities with worksheets. 

It includes offline and online career education and career management resources, content and workshops to support pupils and teachers.  

These include career education activities, Meet the Expert videos, webinars for school leavers, cyber skills activities and sessions about the My World of Work website. 
Dumbarton-based careers adviser Erin Bartley believes the careers education programme will provide solid and welcome support for pupils, teachers and parents who are home-schooling. 

She said: “We’re hoping lots of people will access these sessions, as it’s another channel where we can provide support to young people, their parents and teachers in primary and secondary schools. It’s another way for us to highlight the career paths available now and in the future.” 



More employers are taking on Graduate Apprentices in order to strengthen highly skilled teams

A GRADUATE Apprentice is at the forefront of efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19, ensuring hospitals and other frontline businesses around the UK have access to clean water.

Lukasz Wojcik works as a Field-Service Technician for water purification specialists Scotmas, and is based in Kelso in the Scottish Borders.

Since the lockdown came into force, Lukasz and his colleagues have been working to maintain water distribution systems at health facilities around the country, including Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

The 36-year-old, who is studying at Heriot-Watt University, credits his Graduate Apprenticeship with giving him the skills to play a role in projects including the rapid design and installation of temporary water treatment for several NHS Nightingale hospitals.


Lukasz, who is due to graduate from his course later this year, said: “My Graduate Apprenticeship has been a fantastic way for me to develop and learn new skills whilst remaining in paid employment.  “This has allowed me to be part of the team that has been maintaining water disinfection systems at hospitals around the UK, ensuring they are safe from dangerous bacteria that could cause further illness in vulnerable patients, including those with Covid-19. 

“It’s been a hugely rewarding experience professionally and an opportunity for me to help NHS staff and patients.” For the last four years, Lukasz has been combining his full-time job with a Mechanical Engineering course at Heriot-Watt University.

Graduate Apprenticeships are for anyone aged over 16, who live and work in Scotland, with no course fees to pay for apprentices or employers.

Those on the courses spend around 80 per cent of their time in work and 20 per cent in university, and can qualify for entry based on both academic and relevant work experience. This enables employers to upskill their workforce in order to meet the growing demands of modern business environment, while employees remain in paid employment as they earn new qualifications. 

Businesses who have signed-up to the Graduate Apprenticeship programme are already witnessing the benefits in their workplace, with closer partnership working between employers, employees and universities across a range of key areas.

Alistair Cameron, Managing Director at Scotmas said: “The Graduate Apprenticeship programme that Lukasz is now completing has proven to be a hugely worthwhile addition to our training portfolio.” 

Whilst all Graduate Apprenticeships stay in paid employment whilst completing their degree, it also means there is no student loan to repay with a wide range of courses available.

Sandy Murray, Director of Graduate Apprenticeship at Heriot-Watt University, said: “We take great pride in how graduate apprentices like Lukasz have been able to apply their learning in the fight against COVID-19. 

“It’s a great demonstration of one of the main benefits of the graduate apprenticeships programme – studying for a degree and being able to apply that knowledge and make a difference in the workplace.”

To find out more about Graduate Apprenticeships, visit


  • This article was brought to you in association with Skills Development Scotland as part of our STEM campaign