ADAPTING to the new realities of the pandemic has been a challenge for all learners across Scotland, and the nation’s apprentices are no exception.

Remote working and distance learning have changed the nature of gaining experience in many workplaces, but employers are still finding that apprentices can offer a crucial contribution.

Kelso-based Scotmas is one such business investing in skills so it can respond to market changes.

The disinfection specialists have taken on 10 new Modern Apprentices to support the growth of its business.

Earlier this summer, the firm received a grant from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) through the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) allowing them to retool and adapt their business to supply the growing demands for high level disinfectants. 

The new jobs resulting from the investment were all filled by local people recently made redundant, with Scotmas now working with Forth Valley College to place their new starts on a two-year Modern Apprenticeship in Scientific, Technical and Formulation Technology.

The qualification – developed last year with support from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with industry – allows new employees to develop specialist skills and knowledge, whilst gaining vital in-work experience.  

The apprentices will benefit from using new remote learning tools and a bespoke training suite with full videoconferencing and Teams Room capabilities, thanks to recent investments made by the company.

Alistair Cameron, CEO at Scotmas, said: “Thanks to the latest technology, we have been able to partner with Forth Valley College to deliver world-class, SQA-accredited training to our staff entirely on-site. 

“The commitment shown by our workforce – especially in the last six months to meet the demands from customers such as the NHS and the social care providers – has been first class.  At Scotmas we have a responsibility to ensure that they have access to opportunities to upskill and develop their career.

“The support from South of Scotland Enterprise and partners has been key in helping us adapt and retool our business and create these new jobs at a crucial time for the south of Scotland economy.”

According to Ronnie Palin, Life and Chemical Sciences sector manager at SDS, investment in the workforce is key for business and the wider economy as it recovers from Covid-19. 

He said: “Access to a highly skilled workforce is critical for Scotland’s life and chemical sciences businesses to remain competitive and productive. 

“This new apprenticeship is already helping individuals and firms like Scotmas and demonstrates how SDS, working alongside industry, learning providers and agency partners, can support the sector to attract and retain the talent it needs.”

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE said: “This is a great example of how we are working together as Team South of Scotland with Skills Development Scotland and other key partners to help open up opportunities like this at a time where our region and communities need it the most.”

The new roles at Scotmas will cover a range of specialisms from Formulation Technicians to Quality Assurance and Equipment Manufacturing Technicians.
Caroline Hogg, Client Manager in Forth Valley College’s Department of Business Development, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Scotmas to train their 10 new modern apprentices through our online delivery method, which has been honed and enhanced during the recent lockdown period.

“Forth Valley College prides itself on being a sector leader in online scientific and technical training provision such as this and we are excited to get started.”

This article is part of our Future Of Education campaign in partnership with Skills Development Scotland (SDS)