As a new report highlights the value that Graduate Apprenticeships offer to businesses, Paul Campbell of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board discusses the role they can play in Scotland’s post-Covid economic recovery


THE features of Graduate Apprenticeships make them a win-win choice not only for employers, but learners as well.  

A graduate apprentice is an employee, meaning they earn professional accreditation, while earning a salary from day one, and they can reduce recruitment costs for the employer.

Graduate Apprenticeships are built on industry and professional standards, meaning that the apprentice becomes productive much sooner than through academic study alone.

They are also open to all employers and their full-time employees, offering flexible entry and exit points to suit different learning styles, helping with upskilling and reskilling of employees, resulting in a more flexible, productive and innovative workforce.  

The publication of the report, Graduate Apprenticeships: Developing Scotland’s Future Workforce is a significant and long-awaited piece of independent research which only serves to clearly illustrate these strengths and amplify what employers have been saying for years – Graduate Apprenticeships are valued by Scottish employers and they want access to more opportunities, both in terms of scale and diversity of provision.  

The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board Employer Engagement Group was delighted to commission the Edge Foundation – experts in learning and skills – to conduct this research.

The final article provides a report which looks at the current policy landscape, the future of work, international examples and what that means for the future of Graduate Apprenticeships.

It addresses each of these with balance and consideration, offering practical advice and strategic guidance. If we, as employers, maintain our support and Scottish Government fulfil their commitment, this will bring multi-faceted benefits – not least of all to the Scottish economy.  

As Chair of the group, I have talked to employers in detail about the benefits of Graduate Apprenticeships since their launch in 2017. Members of the advisory board – made up of industry leaders and experts across various sectors and sizes of organisation – agree that the demand for degree-level, work-based learning will continue to grow.  

The Edge Foundation’s report distils current thinking of employers, along with apprentices who have been or are going through a Graduate Apprenticeship programme, and combines this with expert knowledge and examples of work-based learning successes from high-performing economies.   

The report highlights the value of Graduate Apprenticeships to businesses in Scotland and stresses that these need to be communicated clearly.

Its findings and recommendations will help inform the future advice we give to Scottish Government, in our role as ‘the voice of industry’ on apprenticeships, including some key areas where the Scottish system can be strengthened. 

This includes increasing flexibility in Graduate Apprenticeships and building a more flexible system to support their delivery; introducing an agile, demand-led funding system, driven by employer demand; and making a clear commitment to longer-term funding to provide certainty and clarity of provision. 

The report also recommends broadening the frameworks on offer, to future-proof Graduate Apprenticeships, including sectors where there might be more female applicants; and driving demand and increasing awareness of the Graduate Apprenticeship programme in schools and colleges.

The last two years and the impact of Covid-19 have been hugely disruptive on the global economy, as well as in education, training and the workplace generally.

As nations plan their long-term recovery, we want to ensure that the skills landscape in Scotland can underpin economic and social recovery, post-pandemic. The Scottish Apprenticeships Advisory Board is keen to share the message that apprenticeships have an important role in supporting this and the future of work.  

There are lessons to be learned from international comparisons cited in the Edge’s Foundation’s study, and work to be done to shift the skills approach in Scotland to one which is demand-led and therefore fully reflective of the needs of industry.  

Scotland’s skills system has recently been refreshed, with more robust governance processes and a focus on employer-led apprenticeship development. 

Four years after its launch, employers are keen to see the Graduate Apprenticeship programme grow in volume and in terms of sectors covered.

This, along with the evidence contained within the report provides us with strong foundations to build upon. 
My hope is that employers, policy makers and educators will use these findings to be innovative around the future adaptations of Graduate Apprenticeships going forward. Graduate Apprenticeships are desirable, unique and offer so much to everyone involved.


How gaming plays a role in educating pupils on careers 

A NEW digital careers experience has been launched that sees teams of young classmates compete in a range of challenges and mini games designed around jobs of the future.

Pupils at Mary Russell School in Paisley were among the first in Scotland to try Skills Development Scotland’s brand new, interactive Classroom Clash activity.


MSP Neil Bibby visits  Mary Russell School for the launch of Classroom Clash, with World of Work Live Adviser Lynsey Mitchell and pupils


Designed and delivered by experts, the aim of Classroom Clash is to inspire young people and help them understand future careers and opportunities. 

In this new activity, part of SDS’s My World of Work Live programme, pupils learned about Scotland’s key sectors – working in teams to compete in a quiz and sector-focused mini games. 

Mary Russell teacher, Gillian Clark, said: “It was very exciting for our pupils to be among the very first in the country to try out these new activities. The Classroom Clash is all about them learning and discovering information – they did that and enjoyed every minute of it.”

The free experience is now available for schools across Scotland to book through Scotland’s careers website My World of Work. 

Classroom Clash is for pupils in P7-S3 and aims to introduce them to the sectors that will be critical for future economic growth in Scotland. The focus is on computing and digital, construction and building, engineering, healthcare, social work and caring services.

The launch marked the end of the first ever Scottish Careers Week. 
Through online and live events and activities, the inaugural week showcased the wide range of careers support available to people of all ages across Scotland and highlighted the jobs and skills of the future.

West Scotland MSP, Neil Bibby, joined pupils at Mary Russell School for the Classroom Clash launch and saw first-hand how My World of Work Live provides cutting-edge career inspiration.

He said: “What better week to launch Classroom Clash than in the first ever Scottish Careers Week. The sectors represented have a breadth of opportunities and it’s important we inform young people about the exciting options they could explore in the future – from the life and chemical sciences sector to engineering and energy.”  
Every free My World of Work Live experience makes the best use of hands-on learning and the latest technology to engage and inspire.

My World of Work Live Adviser, Lynsey Mitchell, delivered the launch session and said: “I hope the excitement from the session carries on into continued discussions at school and at home about the career paths the pupils could explore across Scotland’s key sectors.

"The engaging activities delivered through My World of Work Live, including the new Classroom Clash, complement the work of SDS careers advisers in schools across Scotland, by helping pupils to develop their career management skills.”