New Foundation Apprenticeships offer a path for young people to gain a foothold in their STEM career choice 

IN the age of automation, ensuring young people leave school with the skills they’ll need in the workplace is more important than ever.

Skills in STEM subjects are a fundamental part of that – but if more young people are to take up these subjects, they need a firm idea of what careers they can lead to.

Foundation Apprenticeships offer a new way for young people to get that head start on their career. Open to pupils in S5 and S6 to take up alongside their other subject choices, a Foundation

Apprenticeship usually takes two years to complete and provides a qualification at the same level as a Higher, and is accepted by all of Scotland’s universities and colleges.

There are 12 types of Foundation Apprenticeship, and because they are all based on the demand for skills from employers and jobs for the future, the majority focus on STEM industries.

The year ahead will see Skills Development Scotland (SDS) provide more than 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities for young people at school, delivering on a key Scottish Government commitment to work-based learning.

The innovative new pathway combines time out of school with a learning provider – usually a college – and work-based learning with a relevant employer.

SDS Chair, Frank Mitchell, believes work-based learning and apprenticeships are vital for Scotland’s future prosperity. He said:

“At a time of unprecedented change in the economy, apprenticeships offer employers in Scotland a unique opportunity to invest in and secure the skills their business needs for the future.

“Meeting Scottish Government’s ambitions to offer 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities over the next year means more chances than ever before for pupils to benefit from work-based learning.

“SDS is committed to working with local and national partners in education, skills and industry to ensure that young people have access to and benefit from these opportunities.”

Of the pupils who have taken Foundation Apprenticeships 94 per cent reported improved communication, 90 per cent had gained confidence, 87 per cent reported improved team-working skills and 76 per cent had improved problem solving.

Foundation Apprenticeships are developed by SDS, in partnership with employers, universities and colleges with support from the European Social Fund.

Amongst the employers to benefit from Foundation Apprenticeships is GE Caledonian. 

The firm has 600 employees and 27 Modern Apprentices on its existing programme and is keen on identifying fresh talent like Fraser Wallace (above) through Foundation Apprenticeships.

Stephen McNab of GE Caledonian said: “It is about Foundation Apprenticeships giving us a solid talent pipeline a year in advance. 
“We get an idea of peoples’ potential a year earlier and, without a doubt, it helps us find the right people.”

ACCOUNTANCY: You could be working in jobs like: actuary, management accountant, insurance broker, economist, and investment banker.

BUSINESS SKILLS: This could lead to jobs like: administrative assistant, purchasing manager, management consultant, company secretary, or human resources officer.

CIVIL ENGINEERING: The industry’s workforce is ageing and there is a demand to fill the skills gap in jobs, like: civil engineer, quantity surveyor or town planner,

CREATIVE AND DIGITAL MEDIA: Scotland’s creative industry is thriving. Become a broadcast journalist, TV or film producer, lighting technician, or graphic designer.

ENGINEERING: Companies are projected to need 182,000 people with engineering skills each year to 2022 in the UK. You could become an aerospace engineer, chemical engineer, electrical engineer or mechanical engineer.

FINANCIAL SERVICES: You could take on a wide range of insurance roles, like broker, underwriter, claims handler, loss adjuster or risk surveyor.

FOOD AND DRINK TECHNOLOGIES: There is growing demand for skills across the whole sector including food science, product development, design and engineering.

HARDWARE AND SYSTEM SUPPORT: Over 90,000 people work in digital technology roles in Scotland. Jobs include cyber security analyst, IT support technician, security administrator and network manager.

SCIENTIFIC TECHNOLOGIES: Jobs include biomedical scientist, biotechnologist, biochemist and geoscientist with salaries averaging 20 per cent more than in other fields.

SOCIAL SERVICES CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE: Look after young children as a nursery worker or child development officer or give children and their families vital support as a social worker.

SOCIAL SERVICES AND HEALTHCARE: Care for sick, injured or disabled people as a nurse, a care home manager, care assistant or residential support worker.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT: Gaming, virtual reality, cyber security, data management and programming – the digital world is changing fast. You could even earn 30 per cent more than the Scottish average.

For more info on Foundation Apprenticeships visit


Pathway was easy PC for Lucy

The power of Foundation Apprenticeships led to one17-year-old being offered a job by DELL

TEENAGER Lucy Gallagher got the chance to get her foot in the door at a world-leading technology firm thanks to her Foundation Apprenticeship.

Now, more doors are opening for the 17-year-old pupil at St Ambrose High School in Coatbridge.


SCREEN TIME: Baillieston teenager Lucy Gallagher has been part of a national advertising campaign promoting the benefits of Foundation Apprenticeships.

Lucy chose a Business Skills Foundation Apprenticeship in fifth year alongside her other subjects so she could get relevant experience towards her dream job in procurement.

Now in her second year of her Foundation Apprenticeship, Lucy’s getting work experience at world-leading technology firm, 
Dell UK. 

She said: “Going to university wasn’t for me. I wanted to go straight into work. A Foundation Apprenticeship let me see how I would get on in a work environment and lead to a qualification.”

Lucy, from Baillieston, heard about Foundation Apprenticeships at a careers presentation during school assembly. 

She explained: “The teacher talked about a range of career options and Foundation Apprenticeships really stood out.”

Lucy went on to the website to find out more and see what Foundation Apprenticeships were available near her. 

After registering online for Business Skills, she went to Glasgow Kelvin College who accepted her on interview.
Doing the apprenticeship alongside her Highers was straightforward. 

Lucy said: “My school was able to manage my timetable for fifth and sixth year so I could fit in all the subjects I wanted to do. 

“College work is managed step-by-step to make sure it’s not too difficult and in the second year there’s a focus on the work placement.”

Dell UK has offered her a job through a Modern Apprenticeship with the prospect of staying on to gain a degree with a Graduate Apprenticeship.

At Dell UK, Lucy has been working on a variety of projects which are designed to increase her knowledge of the business and position her for a role in sales support at the end of her apprenticeship. 

She says: “The environment is not what I expected. I thought it would be quiet and formal but there’s so many different things happening; like days out of the office and activities to keep you motivated.

“I love being in Dell and it’s been brilliant to get insight into the work environment through my Foundation Apprenticeship I get treated like any other member of staff and trusted with my own projects. 

“Just like all new Dell employees, I had to give a pitch presentation to a group, which was fantastic experience.”

Varry McMenemy from Dell said: “We are thrilled to have Lucy and four other Foundation Apprentices within our team. 

“It’s a privilege to be able to support them on their learning journey and to have them contribute to our business at such an early point in their careers.”

Lucy added: “It blows my mind that others don’t take a Foundation Apprenticeship. 

“I would recommend a Foundation Apprenticeship to everyone; there’s so many different types that people can take. 

“Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship has built my confidence and given me a secure future.”