Developing the Young Workforce: 2017-2018 progress report

The fourth annual progress report of the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme.

Chapter 3 - Apprenticeships

Record numbers of young people are undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship.

Key Indicators

Outcomes (KPIs)

  • In 2017/18, 18,524 Modern Apprenticeship (MA) starts were at level 3 or above. This is an increase from 17,263 in 2016/17 and an increase from 15,655 in 2013/14, the baseline figure.
  • In 2017/18, 72% (58 of 81) of MA frameworks had a gender balance of 75:25 (or worse). This is an increase from 70% in 2016/17, but a slight decrease from 73% in 2013/14, the baseline figure.
  • In 2017/18, 1.9% of MA starts were from minority ethnic communities, an increase from 1.7% in 2016/17 and from 1.1% in 2013/14, the baseline figure.


  • In 2017/18, there were 27,145 MA starts, an increase from 26,262 in 2016/17 and an increase from 25,284 in 2013/14, the baseline figure.
  • In 2017/18, the overall number of MA achievements had decreased slightly compared to 2016/17, from 20,404 to 20,309. This also represents a slight decrease from baseline in 2013/14 (20,576).
  • In 2017/18, there were 14,161 achievements of MAs at level 3 and above, an increase from 13,503 in 2016/17 and an increase from 12,497 in 2013/14, the baseline figure.

(This activity delivers on the Developing the Young Workforce Recommendations 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 20, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 38.)

Through DYW, we want to see increasing numbers of young people taking up apprenticeship opportunities. We have also been clear any expansion in apprenticeships needs to work for employers, and their leadership is vital to collectively shape how the apprenticeship programme meets the needs of the employer, and the wider economy.

DYW also set an ambition for there to be more apprenticeships to be at a higher level - level 3 and above. To achieve this, and still ensure the quality of the apprenticeship meets the needs of employers. DYW has supported the development of the Modern Apprenticeship Group. This is part of new quality assurance arrangements developed to oversee the approval of apprenticeship frameworks and qualifications. This now means that Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Education Scotland work collaboratively to review quality at a provider level and as part of thematic reviews at sector/framework level.

Key themes and milestones:

  • Achieving 30,000 Apprenticeship by 2020;
  • Development of further Apprenticeship opportunities to graduate level;
  • Focus on STEM Apprenticeships;
  • Establishment of a Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB), supporting greater responsiveness to labour market need meaning Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships are better aligned with job opportunities;
  • Clearer pathways into Apprenticeships for those not in work or those from previously under-represented groups.


From SDS’s annual progress report on Modern Apprenticeships, published in June 2017, we can see the following progress:

  • There were 27,145 Modern Apprenticeships (MA) starts in 2017/18. This is an increase on 2016/17 levels (26,262). This exceeds the annual target of 27,000 starts, and is in keeping with the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase MA starts to 30,000 by 2020;
  • Additionally, there were 278 Graduate Apprenticeships (GA) starts in 2017/18. This programme is in its early stages of development and it is anticipated that numbers will increase in future years;
  • In 2017/18, 70% of starts were aged 16-24, a decrease of 5.6 percentage points compared to 2016/17;
  • The majority (68%) of starts were in higher level apprenticeships (Level 3 or above), a total of 18,524 in 2017/18. This is an increase of 2.5 percentage points on 2016/17, in which 65.7% of starts (17,263) were in higher level apprenticeships;
  • The largest proportion of starts (22%, or 6,104 starts) were in Construction & Related frameworks;
  • 39% (10,451) of starts were female and 61% (16,694) were male in 2017/18. The proportion of female starts decreased by 1.3 percentage points since 2016/17, when there were 10,440 (39.8%) female starts and 15,822 (60.2%) male starts. Over the last five years, the number of females at Level 3 or above has increased by 22% (+1,220 starts) compared to a 16% increase for males (+1,649 starts). In contrast, the number of females at level 2 has decreased by 25% compared to an increase of 4% for males;
  • 11.3% of MA starts self-identified an impairment, health condition or learning difficulty in 2017/18 (2.7 percentage points higher than 2016/17);
  • 508 or 1.9% of 2017/18 MA starts self-identified being from a Mixed or Multiple; Asian; African; Caribbean or Black; and Other ethnic group. This is an increase of 0.2 percentage points on 2016/17 when 436 MA starts self-identified being from a Mixed or Multiple; Asian; African; Caribbean or Black; and Other ethnic group;
  • 24.7% of MA starts reside in the 20% most deprived areas of Scotland. This is a decrease of 0.7 percentage points compared to 2016/17. This analysis shows a similar pattern over the past four years;
  • 20,309 individuals achieved their MA, an achievement rate of 78%. This is a decrease of 0.6 percentage points compared to 2016/17, when 20,404 individuals achieved their MA.

Uptake in STEM Frameworks

  • Over a third (38.1%) of all Modern Apprenticeship (MA) starts in 2017/18 were in STEM frameworks (an increase of 1.3 percentage points on 2016/17). 65% of STEM framework starts were aged 16-24 and 79.9% were at level 3 or above;
  • In 2017/18, there were 2,107 starts to the IT & Other Services grouping. This is an increase of 805 starts or 62% compared to 2016/17, when there were 1,302 starts in this grouping. This is a three-fold increase in the number of starts in 2013/14 (609);
  • Starts to the IT & Other Services grouping accounted for 8% of MA starts in 2017/18 (+5.4 percentage points compared to 2013/14). For the first time, the IT & Other Services was within the top 5 high volume MA groupings.

Scotland’s Apprenticeship Family

SDS continues to expand work based opportunities and strengthen the pathways between the new Foundation Apprenticeship in school, Modern Apprenticeships and Graduate Apprenticeships. This relationship can be seen in the case study on page 44 of this report, demonstrating how completing a FA in school fast-tracked 18-year old Fraser Wallace into year two of a Modern Apprenticeship as part of his employment with Irvine Engineering.

Graduate Apprenticeships

This year, SDS engaged with employers to develop a new apprenticeship opportunity at graduate level as a way for individuals to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and competence required by Scottish industries. These opportunities provide individuals with an opportunity to participate in paid employment, whilst gaining qualifications at SCQF levels 8-11.

As of 2018, we aim to grow the volume of Graduate Apprentice opportunities to 887. This is an increase from 278 starts in 2017. These opportunities are available in fourteen of Scotland’s universities and colleges, in thirteen subject areas, including: ICT/Digital, Cyber Security, Data, Civil Engineering, Engineering, Construction and Business.

Looking forward, SDS continue to focus on the expansion of Graduate Apprenticeships, providing more opportunities for young people to combine an academic degree with learning in the workplace.


Apprenticeship Levy

In this year, we have continued to monitor the impact of the UK wide Apprenticeship Levy. This is a UK Government tax imposed through reserved powers without consultation with devolved nations where skills policy is devolved.

In 2018/2019 Scotland’s share of forecast Levy receipts totalled £230m, which represented an overall reduction in public sector spending power in Scotland. The Scottish Government has been clear that the Scottish share of the Levy receipts largely replaces money previously received and will continue to be invested in skills, training and employability to meet the needs of Scotland’s economy, employers, and the workforce.

As a result, employers can benefit from a whole range of publicly funded programmes paid for by the proceeds of the Apprenticeship Levy, including a contribution towards training costs for Modern Apprentices; the cost of training Graduate apprentices; recruiting from an employability programme; and the use of a new Flexible Workforce Development Fund available to purchase college learning.

Ensuring the employer voice continues to influence our approach, we have established the SAAB Employer Engagement Group and SAAB Employer Equality Group to support and encourage employer participation in apprenticeships. Recognising how valuable apprenticeships are to Scotland’s future workforce, the SAAB also established an Apprentice Engagement Group (AEG) to take on an ambassadorial role, communicating the benefits of Scotland Apprenticeship Family to young people, employers, parents and other stakeholders.

Next steps

During 2018 - 2019, we expect to see:

  • We will continue to grow and develop Scotland’s Apprenticeship Family opportunities.

During 2019 - 2020, we expect to see:

  • We will see the continued growth of Scotland’s Apprenticeships programme including more opportunities in STEM.

During 2020 - 2021, we expect to see:

  • At least 30,000 new Apprenticeship starts;
  • A sustainable and fully embedded family of apprenticeships.

Case study: Apprentice of the Year Fraser Flying High and Fast In Engineering

From work experience to a Foundation Apprenticeship to a Modern Apprenticeship

Irvine engineering apprentice, Fraser Wallace’s career has soared since he started on his Foundation Apprenticeship at Ayrshire College as a Greenwood Academy pupil, gaining work-based learning at aviation experts GE Caledonian as part of his qualification.

The 18 year-old is now able to work, earn and learn by landing a Modern Apprenticeship at the firm this year, after impressing the bosses with his performance and passion for the job.

The passion and commitment Fraser demonstrated on his Foundation Apprenticeship led to him being named Skills Development Scotland Scottish Apprentice of the Year 2018.

Fraser had always wanted to do an apprenticeship as he liked the idea of practical, on-the-job learning while earning.

The teen was drawn to a Foundation Apprenticeship in engineering because of his love of problem solving and working with his hands.

Fraser said: “I chose engineering because it was always something I was interested in. All the people who work here at GE Caledonian are very supportive and, if you ask, they are willing to help you as much as they can.”

Fraser’s skills with hand tools are at a level where he can start at year two of the MA.

Through his FA, he built strong foundation skills in electrical wiring and soldering, mathematics application, CAD, and testing processes and controls.

Stephen McNab of GE Caledonian says: “The impression that Fraser left was an ever-lasting one when he did his work experience with us. He had a genuine interest and a genuine passion which came through and it carried him forward to the next stage of his FA. He really excelled and was one of the top performers in his year.”

GE Caledonian has 600 employees and 27 MAs on its apprentice programme and this set to grow again next year. The company started another Foundation Apprentice in August 2018 and said there are some potentially great students scheduled to complete their FAs by 2019, five of which have had work experience at GE.

Stephen feels FAs give young people a vehicle to take them from a school environment to the workplace, while gaining vital skills.

Explains Stephen: “It is also 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.”

Stephen is a former apprentice, who has been an engineer for 37 years. He believes an ideal apprentice is someone who demonstrates loyalty, is a team player and who has a passion for what they do.

Kirsty Taylor, Foundation Apprentice and Employer Engagement Lead at Ayrshire College says: “Fraser has developed core skills essential for the work place such as time-keeping, working independently, responsibility and flexibility. His enthusiasm and commitment to the FA has led to him, alongside GE Caledonian, discussing the benefits of the course at public events and conferences.

“Fraser has excelled at putting the theory and skills he learned into practice at GE Caledonian.”


Email: Paul Fagan

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