Businesses are now able to benefit from the Scottish Government’s Apprenticeship Employer Grant, which Charandeep Singh of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce believes will help drive prosperity by investing in the talents of young people

SECURING the future of work-based learning is an important feature of how businesses in Scotland are being supported through the Covid-19 pandemic.
With employers of all sizes dealing with fundamental shifts across working practices and customer demand, maintaining a focus on learning in the workplace is an important challenge.

Now employers who take on an apprentice can access increased financial support thanks to a new initiative announced by the Scottish Government.
The Apprenticeship Employer Grant provides additional support to employers who take on a Modern or Graduate Apprentice within their business

Administered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) as part of the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Employer grant aims to encourage more employers to take on an apprentice or upskill an existing staff member through an apprenticeship.  

The funding offers £5,000 for employers taking on or upskilling a 16-to-24-year-old through an apprenticeship, and for those aged up to 29 years who have a disability, are care experienced or are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

It also offers £3,500 for employers taking on or upskilling an individual aged 25 and over through an apprenticeship.

The announcement of the grant was welcomed by Charandeep Singh, Deputy Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce and a member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB).

SAAB acts as the voice of industry on apprenticeships in Scotland, with members playing a key role in helping shape of the details of the grant so it could act as a real incentive in encouraging more employers to take on apprentices.

Charandeep said: “The grant should make a difference to many of the Scottish businesses – large and small – out there who are committed to the long-term benefits of nurturing talent and growing their own through apprenticeships.

“Representing our Chambers members from across all sectors in Scotland, I know that this will be especially pertinent to SMEs who may feel recruitment and upskilling has had to be a downgraded priority due to the pandemic and restrictions. At the Chambers, we are committed to helping members by providing the right information to keep them informed of support available and to continue their investments in apprenticeships where possible.

“This is why I will be closely working with the Chamber Network across Scotland to champion this grant support and how to apply. There is £15million available which must be put to use and I expect that applications will come thick and fast. Apprenticeships are important, especially at this time. 

“They are key to any organisation’s legacy and talent pipeline and are at the heart of how businesses will rebuild and invest in our future. They act as a way of ensuring that employers can get the skills they need, future-proofing their industry and workforce. I would urge any employer out there who wants to continue investing in apprenticeships to take advantage of this opportunity and make the application today. This is done through a training provider who will complete the online form, and the money is paid directly to the employer. 

“Looking ahead to meet the challenges we all face, we will need more apprenticeships being funded and more flexibility from learning providers to help deliver the skills needed by employers and apprentices alike to ensure that apprenticeships are fit-for-purpose.

“But in the immediate future, this direct funding support is significant and can’t come too soon for Scottish businesses. Key initiatives like this can create real change and have a lasting and a positive impact on our businesses and the Scottish economy.”


Graduate Apprentice Mark McPhillips of Celestia UK who is among those benefiting from work-based learning

The grant is one of a series of measures aimed at maintaining access to apprenticeships as the route to a new career. Pathway Apprenticeships is an offer for school-leavers up to 18-years-old who might be facing more limited options due to the economic impact from Covid-19.

Around 1,200 opportunities will be available to young people in the first phase of the initiative, offering training for unemployed or economically inactive young people for up to 26 weeks, with a £100 weekly allowance.
Pathway Apprenticeships are being made available in areas including construction, business skills, software and hardware IT, engineering and early years.

  • To find out more about the Apprenticeship Employer Grant or about Pathway Apprenticeships, visit


SDS advice service takes good care of business ambitions

FACING up to the challenges posed by the pandemic has been an essential task for Dundee-based Balgillo Nurseries.

With four sites around the city, directors Pamela Gail and Kim Lee had to quickly adjust how they operate whilst also responding to the regular issues faced by any business.

To get the support they need they turned to Skills for Growth – a fully funded service from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with consultants Remarkable – to help them adapt to the changes and understand their skills needs.


Pamela Gail, co-director of Balgillo Nurseries adapted to the challenges of the pandemic with SDS’ Skills for Growth service

Pamela said: “The last 12 months have been tough with lots of changes to practice and guidance which has undoubtedly  been challenging. 

“We also had three members of the team leave at the same time, so we had to recruit additional team members.

“We also needed to find way for the teams to be less reliant on Kim and myself day to day – and we were keen to understand if there was a reason for the staff turnover.”

Having previously benefited from support from Business Gateway, Pamela and Kim were open to a fresh source of advice.

Pamela added: “We are nursery practitioners by trade and needed to develop new skills to support staff and manage the business. 

“Helping our staff access the right training is important, whether at Modern Apprenticeship level, or established team members looking to undertake a degree.”

As part of Skills for Growth, employers have their own specialist SDS adviser and a dedicated consultant who make the best use of their existing management skills and also assess the strengths of the team and recommend a range of solutions, for example training opportunities and appropriate funding initiatives.         

SDS adviser Kathryn Hill, who supported Balgillo, has kept in touch with the business since Skills for Growth was completed. She recognised that the service came at just the right time for them.

She said: “Pam and Kim have been very open to the support available, and keen to do what they could to grow their business and keep customers and staff at the heart of what they do.

“Although the first lockdown halted their plans, they have shown great resilience by getting back up and running quickly to offer care for children of key workers amongst others. 

“The recruitment of four new apprentices is testament to how much Balgillo is invested in helping the employment prospects of young people in the area – and in doing so, supporting the growth of the business.”

According to Pamela, Balgillo is now better placed to adapt to change and make decisions on its training needs, thanks to Skills for Growth’s tailored approach.
She said: “We have had four modern apprentices start in 2020 and have all four managers start their degrees too. 

“This helps to better support the teams and overall leadership. Knowing that that there are additional members of the team with the knowledge, skills and experience now is a huge benefit.” 

  • For further information about Skills for Growth, visit