Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn marked the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week at Queen Street Station in Glasgow which is currently undergoing a major revamp.

He met apprentices from main contractor Balfour Beatty who employ over 100 apprentices.

Mr Hepburn said: “Scottish Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the benefits of work-based learning.

“Apprenticeships are crucial to developing our workforce and economy - they provide excellent opportunities to assist people of all ages and from all backgrounds into rewarding careers and can benefit businesses of every size and from every sector.

“We are delivering more apprenticeships in Scotland than ever before and the routes into employment available to young people are the most diverse they have ever been, but I still want to urge more businesses and individuals to consider the benefits an apprenticeship opportunity can bring.”

Bethany Welsh, originally from Forres in Moray, completed a graduate apprenticeship in civil engineering with Balfour Beatty.

Bethany said: “Being an apprentice has changed my life. Getting the opportunity to work on a project from start to finish is amazing.”

Hector MacAulay, regional managing director of Balfour Beatty’s construction business in Scotland said: “At Balfour Beatty, we believe it is vitally important for us to create opportunities for young people through apprenticeships.

“We are deeply committed to providing skills and life-long learning through apprenticeships which are key to leaving a sustainable, lasting legacy throughout all of our projects in Scotland.”

Chair of Skills Development Scotland, Frank Mitchell, said: “Demand from employers continues to drive the development and growth of Scottish Apprenticeships. 

 “Scottish Apprenticeships create opportunities for everyone no matter their background and for every business no matter its size or sector.

 “Looking towards a future increasingly disrupted by technological and societal changes, work-based learning has never been more relevant for supporting people into highly productive and sustainable jobs. 

  “We are facing ever-growing demand for foundation and graduate apprenticeships from employers, demonstrating that work-based learning is crucial to meeting critical skills gaps.” 

Foundation apprenticeships are subject choices for school pupils; while modern and graduate apprenticeships are jobs where you work, learn and earn up to degree level.

Up to 5000 foundation apprenticeship opportunities for school pupils will be available this year, with Scotland also on track to meet the annual target of 30,000 Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship starts.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and takes place from 2 to 6 March.

The theme is 'talent without limits', celebrating the diversity that makes Scottish Apprenticeships good for individuals, employers and the economy.