With more than 25,000 new Modern Apprenticeships created by Scotland’s employers in the past year, Skills Development Scotland is delivering a workforce fit for the future 

STATISTICS from Scotland’s skills agency, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), show that there were 25,447 Modern Apprenticeship starts from April 2022 to March 2023 – surpassing the Scottish Government’s ambitions and helping apprenticeship 
job creation move even closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Modern Apprenticeships starts are now at 93% of pre-pandemic levels showing employer demand for critical skills. 

The figures also show that the number of apprentices in training across the country is at the highest ever level, at around 39,000.

Minister for Higher and Further Education Graeme Dey MSP met apprentices from a range of employers including Balfour Beatty, Leonardo, and Scottish Water who were speaking to young people about the benefits of apprenticeships at the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) event ‘Youth Without Limits Live: Beyond the CV’ at Dynamic Earth in the capital.

Mr Dey said: “Apprenticeships are vital for people to develop their skills and for employers to invest in their workforce for the future. 

“Supporting skills development across people’s lifetimes is critical to our future productivity and success, underlining our commitment to a skilled workforce set out within the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Our priority is for high quality apprenticeships that provide sustainable jobs and careers, supporting our transition to net zero.”

Chair of Skills Development Scotland, Frank Mitchell, said: “The number of apprenticeships supported by employers show that they are a critical way of developing much-needed skills and sustainable jobs across all parts of Scotland supporting a wellbeing economy

“These apprenticeships have been taken up by individuals from across society, including many young people traditionally with limited prospects to progress who have gone onto flourish in the workplace. These are real jobs backed by employers who contribute £10 for every £1 spent by government, and at the same time apprentices contribute by paying their taxes.”

The Dynamic Earth event provided opportunities for DofE participants hailing from all over the country to develop skills required in life and the workplace and understand how their experiences can support their future careers.

Director of DofE Scotland, Helen Anderson said: “DofE teaches valuable skills for life and work and many of our Gold Award participants complete their Award as part of their apprenticeship, learning skills such as resilience, problem-solving, teamwork and communication, which support their career development.”


Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year Julie-Ann Murray


Hector MacAulay MBE, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s regional business in Scotland said: “At Balfour Beatty, we are committed to attracting the next generation of talent and inspiring young people across Scotland to consider a career in the construction and infrastructure industry. 

“That is why we were delighted to join with Skills Development Scotland at the Duke of Edinburgh event today to further showcase the wide range of apprenticeship opportunities available across Balfour Beatty – opportunities that will provide young people with the skills and knowledge they need to kickstart lifelong, rewarding careers in our industry.” 

Of those individuals starting an apprenticeship over the last year, the majority (81%) were taking qualifications at higher levels of SCQF Level 6 or above, which is a year-on-year increase and supports the Scottish Government’s drive to create high quality opportunities.

The percentage share of individuals who started a Modern Apprenticeship and declared as having a disability, care experienced or coming from an ethnic minority community also rose.  The largest share of starts – 24% – were individuals from the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland. 

Construction had the highest number of starts (6,623) followed by the Sport, Health and Social Care grouping (5,749). The IT & Other Services group had the third highest number of starts overall (3,258) and the largest annual increase (+16.4%).

Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) of all starts were in growth/key sector-related groups and Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) frameworks accounted for almost half (47%) of starts, which is an increase on last year and also compared to pre-COVID percentage share.

Scottish Government has continued its commitment to apprenticeships with an ambition to deliver up to 25,500 Modern Apprenticeship starts in 2023/24.

The latest Interim Participation Snapshot, published by SDS, shows 90.8% of 16 to 19-year-olds are in learning, training or work – including apprenticeships. The figures show that the participation rate had increased by 0.1 percentage points compared to the same point in 2022.

The interactive report is produced using data collected by SDS and a range of partners, including local authorities, colleges, the Student Award Agency for Scotland, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Funding Council, which is shared through the 16+ Data Hub.

Find out more information at apprenticeships.scot


New game allows pupils to take stock of career plans

SCOTTISH pupils will get a crash course in the stock market with a new game developed in partnership by Scottish Financial Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland. 

Launched this week, the game ‘Investable’ will be offered in schools as part of My World of Work Live, a national programme delivered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) which provides fun, experiential career-related lessons to help young people understand future careers.  

Pupils will be given a virtual £1,000 to invest in a digital stock market. 

They must decide what industries and companies to invest in and monitor their portfolio, making decisions on when to buy and sell, whilst navigating unpredictable markets. 


Players are challenged to maximise their investment to score a top spot on a national leader board. 

The Investable game is offered as part of Classroom Clash – an interactive mini-game quiz tournament which aims to teach young people about the world of work through gameplay.

The game forms part of Scottish Financial Enterprise’s (SFE) new A Future in Finance initiative which aims to attract more young people into the financial services industry. 

SFE recently commissioned a poll which revealed young Scots are less likely to consider a career in financial services, with almost 60% of 16-24 year olds surveyed stating they would not think of working within this industry.  

Sandy Begbie CBE, Chief Executive Officer of SFE, and Chair of Developing the Young Workforce, welcomed the development of this new game. 

He said: “We are pleased to support the launch of this latest instalment on Classroom Clash, which will be a key part of how we inspire young people about careers in finance, by offering them fun, interactive learning experiences. 

“The game complements our new Future in Finance programme, launched this week, by demonstrating the different ways the financial system works and the roles different financial service providers play within it, and helping players develop the digital skills that are so important in today’s industry. 

“We look forward to using the game to encourage young people to consider the huge number of opportunities available in Scotland’s financial services industry.”

Director of Regional Skills Planning and Sector Development at SDS Chris Brodie, is thrilled to see this new game delivered in Scottish classrooms. 

He said: “A recent review of Scotland’s career services called for enhanced digital services and experiential learning that presents information about the world of work in a fun and engaging way. 

“Partnering with industry leaders such as Scottish Financial Enterprise to design practical learning activities using expert insight and new technologies, ensures that young people are inspired to learn about careers and industries they previously haven’t considered.”

This activity is delivered by the My World of Work Live team throughout Scotland. Schools can book in sessions with the team directly by contacting live@sds.co.uk