FOR SCOTLAND’S senior high school pupils, taking the first steps into the world of work can be a daunting process. The team at South Lanarkshire College understands the pressures facing young people and has expanded its Foundation Apprenticeship programme this year to help young people unlock their full potential.

As a result, many students across a range of disciplines, are a little closer to achieving their dreams.

Myra Sisi, South Lanarkshire College’s Associate Principal for the Faculty of Care and Lead for Developing the Young Workforce, says the Senior Phase and Foundation Apprenticeship portfolio had been developed to offer “different solutions for different pupil needs” and, building on the success of previous years, has now been increased.


“We developed our first FA programme, Children and Young People, in session 2018/19 and it was hugely popular and 
very successful,” she says.

“FAs are qualifications within specific sectors, designed to provide young people with the opportunity to learn about the world of work and gain valuable industry knowledge and skills while at school.

“I felt very passionate about expanding the programme, and the college now delivers frameworks across two faculties – Accountancy; Business Skills; Social Services, Children and Young People; Social Services and Healthcare – and we are currently inducting students for a Pathway Apprenticeship in Construction.

In total, the college has 180 young people on FA programmes – 121 in first year, 59 returning – and Myra hopes those numbers will increase next year.“We have worked closely with parents, too, helping them to understand the value of the qualification their son or daughter is hoping to achieve,” she adds.

Partnership working, with local authorities and employers, is key to the success of Foundation Apprenticeships, says Myra. “We work productively and positively with South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire Councils, helping us to develop and improve our Senior Phase options for young people,” she explains.

“This is about getting it right for every young person and providing a qualification they can embrace as part of their senior school years.”

The Foundation Apprenticeship qualification is a balance between theory and vocational learning which increases the prospects of students progressing into employment. Students gain workplace experience, including generic employability skills which assist with transition into the working environment.

Industry-specific skills are a mandatory element of the course, enabling students to progress and become qualified practitioners, and work experience is a vital element.

“The college has in place strong links and partnership agreements with South Lanarkshire Council and local employers to provide work experience for our students,” says Myra. “This, along with a proven track record in delivering a wide range of vocational courses to school pupils, was an ideal opportunity to deliver a programme of study which would promote work based learning and progression to employment or further study.”

As part of its commitment to the Developing the Young Workforce programme, South Lanarkshire College works in partnership with schools, local authorities, Skills Development Scotland and industry to increase work experience opportunities for senior phase pupils. 

“We recognised, in particular, that there was significant demand for the Foundation Apprenticeship framework in Children and Young People and agreement was reached with South Lanarkshire Council and local employers that workplace experiences would be provided,” she says.

“Within the school provision the curriculum is aligned to key sectors, of which childcare is one. Labour market research highlights that there is a skills gap within this sector and work-ready employees will be required.

“So we are helping to create a much-needed workforce for a sector vitally important to the local economy.”

Foundation Apprenticeships can also provide progression pathways to a Modern Apprenticeship or Higher National Qualification, or contribute to a Higher equivalency at an A, B or C grade depending on University and Degree choices. During the pandemic, South Lanarkshire College has worked hard to ensure teaching and learning continued as effectively as possible, with support from South Lanarkshire Council.

The local authority provided FA pupils with Chromebooks and implemented practice sessions prior to the current lockdown to prepare pupils for remote learning. “Since the second lockdown began in January we have delivered remote learning, working with South Lanarkshire Council to get resources out to pupils working at home,” says Myra.

“That has worked very well and we will continue to develop that support in line with Government guidelines as long as restrictions remain in place.”


‘Foundation Apprenticeship is the best thing I’ve ever done’

GEMMA Bruce was a shy teenager when she joined South Lanarkshire College’s Foundation Apprenticeship scheme.

A few weeks in placement at a local hospice, as part of her one-year FA Healthcare award, changed everything.


Gemma Bruce, right, hopes to progress to university after her HNC in Social Services

“The FA has been the best thing I have ever done,” explained Gemma, a former pupil of Duncanrig Secondary School in East Kilbride.

“My experience of the Kilbryde Hospice placement taught me skills and many important themes and messages. 

“The best part was watching everyone grow and develop their confidence as well as making friends.”

Lecturer Katya Lamb said Gemma ‘barely spoke out’ when she first came to the college, during her sixth year at school.

“After a few weeks in placement, she was more confident within herself and actively engaged within classes,” explains Katya.

“She thoroughly enjoyed her placement and successfully achieved her FA. Gemma has now progressed on to our full-time HNC Social Services course, with a view to further progression onto university.”


This content was brought to you in partnership with South Lanarkshire College as part of The Herald's Future of Education campaign