Mary Holland, director of DYW North East

The skills landscape is changing, with employers increasingly getting the chance to showcase their businesses, their sectors and the variety of careers they offer to the young workforce of the future through a multitude of different work experience opportunities.

For those interested in the business of effective engagement with the next generation, there is also a real chance to show leadership, by spreading the word and helping others to see the benefits.

Moving forward, one area where employers who have yet to dip a toe into the apprenticeship pool should think about starting is with a Foundation Apprenticeship (FAs). Established in 2017 as a direct result of the Wood Commission, they are another key strand in the push to give young people a well-rounded set of skills for the future.

There are currently only around 45 Foundation apprentices across 10 frameworks who are doing their work placement for the second year of their course. With the programme evolving from a two to a one-year model however, in the coming academic year we will see between 400 and 500 young people in our region seeking work placements across a range of disciplines.

Targeted at S5 and S6 pupils, FA’s are a qualification that lets young people gain work experience in Scotland’s growth industries while still at school. Spending one day, or two half-days, per week with a local business from August to June, pupils learn the vital communication, team-work and self-management skills that employers need – whilst also gaining a Higher-level (SCQF6) qualification recognised and providing a direct pathway to a Modern Apprentice when they start working. The qualification is also recognised by Colleges and Universities as part of their entry criteria if that is the path they choose to take.

It’s not only the first step on the pathway for the student’s career, for employers too they offer a raft of benefits from developing your existing employees soft skills and increasing motivation, meeting your CSR objectives and increasing your business profile in the community; to increased understanding of your sector and the potential for a reduced recruitment cost base through direct access to the pipeline of future candidates. It also gives you the opportunity to ‘try before you buy the young talent available in our schools across the region, potentially providing you with a new Modern Apprentice or young employee.

The FA’s have been designed by businesses in conjunction with Education Scotland so are designed to meet the needs of industry. While there are only 10 frameworks at the moment, the disciplines across them are varied.

One of the core areas where there will be a demand for employers across the coming year is the creative and digital sector. Rather than close off opportunity however, any business that has a marketing department can get involved and use it to show the wide range of different roles within their company and sector.

There are also opportunities for companies who are already working with young talent through school partnerships to extend their engagement. Offering continuing professional development opportunities to teachers can help increase their understanding of our region’s growth sectors and help shape what they take back to the classroom.