To avoid a ‘lost generation’, the new Young Person’s Guarantee aims to ensure all young Scots get the chance to succeed through an apprenticeship, training, further education or volunteering, writes Sandy Begbie, CEO at Scottish Financial Enterprise

HAVING the opportunity to fulfil your potential as you grow up and enter adulthood is something that can easily be taken for granted.
The ability to develop new skills, learn from your experiences, and to have a choice about the path you want to follow is something that should be available to everybody.
And yet, one of the consequences of the pandemic is that those opportunities are being reduced for today’s generation of young people.

This is evident in a myriad of ways, from pupils facing time away from the classroom to students being absent from college and university campuses. 
Many of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, from retail to hospitality, employ a large number of young people, with the amount of opportunities, including apprenticeships, severely affected.

The history of previous economic downturns tells us that this can have a scarring effect on young people which remains evident throughout their working lives, and if we are to avoid creating a lost generation we must take steps now to help them overcome the barriers they now face.
This is why I have been proud to lead on the development of the Young Person’s Guarantee. I grew up on a council estate in Musselburgh and know how important it is to have the right support in your formative years.

I benefited a great deal from the role models who gave me opportunities and it’s important we equip our young people with the skills our economy will need for the next five to 10 years as we recover from this crisis.
The Young Person’s Guarantee sets out to ensure today’s generation have similar opportunities, aiming within two years to give all young people, aged 16-24 in Scotland the chance to succeed through the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, education, training or volunteering. It’s delivered in partnership by Scottish Government, local authorities, colleges and universities, Skills Development Scotland, Fair Start Scotland, the third sector, and Developing the Young Workforce. 

These services will also link with other local provision and UK-wide interventions through DWP, such as Kickstart. 
Since it was launched in November we have already travelled a great distance, we have developed 18,000 new opportunities for young people through £60 million of investment in 2020/21.
There is, however, a great deal that remains to be done. 

Next week’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week offers a key moment at which to recognise the value that apprenticeships offer to young people and the support that is now available to employers looking to take on an apprentice.
This includes the Apprentice Employer Grant which provides up to £5000 of funding for employing an apprentice and an enhanced Adopt an Apprentice offer for employers who take on an apprentice who has previously been made redundant. 

This is in addition to the support with training costs which are central to Scottish apprenticeships.
Such support underlines the fundamentally important role Scotland’s businesses play in apprenticeships and in the Young Person’s Guarantee. I would encourage every employer to consider how taking on an apprentice could benefit their business as well as offering someone a valuable opportunity. 

The theme for Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2021 is Business Backing Talent, and over the past year I’ve heard from many businesses who have not only quickly evolved to meet shifting demands, but have adopted innovative approaches to ensure their apprentices could continue learning and make an essential contribution to the business. 

I am keen that more employers take inspiration from these stories and 
recognise that the pandemic need not be a barrier to investing in youth.
Apprenticeships are just one way of getting involved in supporting Scotland’s young people through Young Person’s Guarantee. Other ways involve engaging with education, creating work experience opportunities, or developing more jobs, training and upskilling opportunities. All of this will be in the spotlight during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

The Young Person’s Guarantee offers employers the opportunity to develop a future pipeline of skills and experience with young people at the heart of the workforce. 
Now is the time for all of us to commit to supporting Scotland’s young people and ensure their future is also a bright one.

To find out more about Scottish Apprenticeship Week, visit

To find out more about the Young Person’s Guarantee and how to get involved, visit

THE Scottish Apprenticeship Awards has moved to a virtual event taking place on Thursday, March 4th. 
Now in its 19th year, the awards recognise employers, learning providers and individuals across Scotland, who have championed the value of apprenticeships, highlighting the importance of Scottish businesses backing talent.  
The event has taken on a TV studio-style format this year, with presenters Amy Irons from BBC Scotland’s The Nine and Jonny Campbell, who has presented shows on Clyde and West FM. 

Jonny himself is a former apprentice and previous winner at the awards. 
He won the Apprentice Ambassador Award in 2015 and really sees the value in promoting work-based learning career paths. 
He said: “I completed my digital apprenticeship and then studied radio broadcast before working as a radio presenter. 
“I know the value apprenticeships can bring young people and businesses, so it’s great to be part of the show.” 

The individual categories include awards for Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices – with one of them then named Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year. 
Foundation Apprenticeships are subject choices for pupils, while Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships are jobs. 

There are also categories for apprentices who have promoted work-based learning pathways, apprentice instructors, innovative learning providers, and employers. 
Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP said: “It’s never been more important to recognise the success of our dedicated apprentices, the commitment of their employers and innovation shown by learning providers.
“Across Scotland, apprenticeships are delivering the critical skills and talent that will support our continued economic recovery and growth as we work to rebuild from coronavirus (COVID-19).”   

Skills Development Scotland Chair Frank Mitchell said: “Throughout 
the pandemic there have been extraordinary efforts from employers to support their apprentices through incredibly difficult circumstances.   
“Apprentices across Scotland have shown huge commitment, fortitude and dedication to developing their skills.   It’s also important this year to recognise the innovation demonstrated by learning providers to make sure apprentices continued to learn and progress.  

“Supporting youth employment and skills through apprenticeships is at the heart of economic recovery.   
“The awards are a platform to make sure inspirational apprenticeships, employers and learning providers gain the national recognition and thanks they deserve.” 
Sponsors for the awards include Balfour Beatty, the College Development Network, JP Morgan, Scotland’s Apprentice Network, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, the Scottish Training Federation, and the Young Person’s Guarantee. 
The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards take place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week on Thursday 4 March at 7pm. 

Find out about all the finalists and watch the show by registering for free at 


Article in association with Skills Development Scotland