As lockdown gradually lifts and we approach the end of school term, Skills Development Scotland credits a multi-partnership strategy for keeping Foundation Apprentices on course – physically and virtually – during the Covid-19 pandemic

THE challenges Scotland has faced to ensure the country’s school pupils continue to learn and achieve during the pandemic have been unprecedented. Within the education sector, collaboration has been vital in a rapid response to create solutions that will support the skills and learning system. 

As part of the development of Foundation Apprenticeships, adaptations have been made so pupils were able to continue to progress with their work-based learning throughout the disruption to complete and achieve their qualification. 

Developed in partnership with industry and delivered by learning providers including colleges, Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6 are available as a subject choice in secondary schools.  

Foundation Apprenticeships at SCQF Level 6 are chosen as a senior phase subject and completion leads to a qualification at the same level as a Scottish Higher. 

Knowledge gained is supported through a series of practical activities including industry projects or work placements undertaken virtually and in person. 

Throughout the pandemic, Skills Development Scotland has been working in partnership with SQA, Sector Skills bodies and the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board to maintain the quality, integrity and level of learning for Foundation Apprenticeships. 

This work maintained the value and recognition for Foundation Apprenticeship qualifications so pupils can continue their learner journey by progressing to a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship or on to further learning through college or university. 

Skills Development Scotland Director of Critical Skills and Occupations, Diane Greenlees said: “The skills and competence Foundation Apprenticeship pupils gain are going to be important now more than ever as the economy recovers, preparing them for all pathways and equipping them with skills and experience employers need.” 

Whilst pupils gain from achieving a Foundation Apprenticeship qualification, many schools and learning providers including colleges also recognise the value this experience gives students as a vital head-start in the world of work. 

Forth Valley College has been a long-term champion of Foundation Apprenticeships and Principal Dr Ken Thomson OBE wholeheartedly endorses them. Dr Thomson said: “Foundation Apprenticeships are one of the best qualifications I‘ve seen in 30 years of further education; colleges are behind them and they are the best route for allowing us to engage with schools and employers. 


“Since their inception, Foundation Apprenticeships have become an integral and successful part of the Apprenticeship Family here at Forth Valley College, with the potential for leading on to Modern Apprenticeships and higher education.  

“Foundation Apprenticeships are essential for us to help meet the future demands of employers and provide that much needed pipeline of young people into the workplace and the apprenticeships give them a head start in their career, as the qualification allows them to move straight into the world of work. 

“Every day during the pandemic we saw the positive impact on pupils when they continued studying at college and working with employers, as many pupils thrive when they are given these opportunities. We are excited to make learning work for the senior school pupils in Forth Valley by offering them a sector-leading range of Foundation Apprenticeships and look forward to growing this programme in the future.” 

Jade Hughes studied for an Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship at Forth Valley College and says the smooth continuation of her qualification has enabled her to become plugged into achieving her dream job through apprenticeships.

Jade said: “I really liked the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering but preferred the practical aspect to the course rather than the class work. Last year we continued to work on computer graphics, engineering materials and also got into the workshops – which I think was the best bit for me.” 

Jade, from Falkirk, added: “I would recommend a Foundation Apprenticeship because at the end of it you will have a great qualification for your CV and you will have carried out some work experience. 

“This course has put me in a great position. With the electrical experience I have had in the Foundation Apprenticeship, it really has been worth it as I looked to secure a Modern Apprenticeship in engineering.”


How Foundation Apprenticeships got with the programme

A LEADING digital firm is boosting its sector’s next generation of talent through Foundation Apprenticeships. Digital care software provider Servelec has taken nine ICT Software Foundation Apprentices through City of Glasgow and Glasgow Clyde colleges.  

The group of senior phase pupils from schools across the region are working with Servelec one day a week for 12 weeks to help gain their Foundation Apprenticeship Qualification at SCQF Level 6. 

Damian De Luca, who leads the Servelec Digital Academy, is guiding the young apprentices through their placement with this in-house talent programme that trains the software developers of the future.  


Working in teams of three, the apprentices have been tasked with creating a GP booking system, including design, layout, and front-end development. 

Damian De Luca said: “As a technology business that cares about doing the right thing, we’re really pleased to give these students this chance to gain some hands-on experience of what it’s like to work in a software business. 

“We’ve got all the tools in place through our existing academy set up to help train these young people remotely in sought-after digital skills, whilst also providing a positive first experience of the work environment in these unusual times. It’s a pleasure to have them on board and we look forward to being part of their learning journey.” 

Lisa Smith, Foundation Apprenticeship Project Manager at Glasgow Kelvin College, adds: “Having worked at speed to ensure every student has access to an iPad to continue their learning when Covid hit, it’s great to now see them settled in their placement with Servelec and gaining valuable experience which will set them up for a bright future.” 

Foundation Apprenticeships have been developed by Skills Development Scotland and supported by the European Social Fund. 

Tony Minchella, Partnership and Delivery Manager at Skills Development Scotland said: “By closing the gap between the classroom and the workplace, Foundation Apprenticeships give pupils a chance to get a head start on their careers, which in these times is more important than ever. 

“We’re delighted to have Servelec on board, particularly as digital skills are going to be in such high demand for the next generation workforce.” 

Skills Development Scotland also delivers Scotland’s national careers service in schools, centres and online – working with young people from the Primary 7/first year transition to sixth year.  

As this summer’s school leavers prepare to say goodbye to the school classroom, SDS advisers are delivering and preparing for thousands of calls, face-to-face and online meetings to discuss vital next steps.  

SDS’s National CIAG Policy and Professional Practice Lead Sandra Cheyne said: “We have been working with those young people across the years, helping them develop their career management skills. 

“Those skills empower people to make their own learning and career decisions, based on the best available career intelligence, up-to-date knowledge of routes and pathways and an understanding of their own strengths and interests.

“Young people are used to using our My World of Work online 
service and they can also always get support locally after leaving 
school at our high street centres or by calling our national helpline on 0800 917 8000.”

Brought to you by Skills Development Scotland