Developing the Young Workforce: annual report 2014-15

The first annual report on Scotland's youth employment strategy, setting out progress in year one of implementing the seven-year programme.

Chapter 3 - Apprenticeships

Access to Work Based Learning for All Young People


  • We have increased the number of Modern Apprenticeship opportunities from 25,000 in 2014/15 to 25,500 in 2015/16 as the step toward increasing the number of Modern Apprenticeship opportunities to 30,000 a year by 2020/21.
  • SDS have been supported to play their part in implementation receiving £7.3m over 14-15 and 15-16 from the Developing the Young Workforce implementation budget to expand and develop the MA programme.
  • In AY 2014-15, Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) developed 2 pilot foundation apprenticeships (called pathfinders) in partnership with Fife and West Lothian College, recruiting a total of 75 pupils on to these courses. A foundation apprenticeship offers school pupils the chance to start a Modern Apprenticeship in school.
  • For AY 2015-16, SDS has expanded the number of foundation apprenticeships pathfinders to 29 across 6 skills sectors, recruiting around 300 senior phase pupils from across 20 LAs and involving 9 college regions.
  • SDS received £0.5m from Government to finalise and support the implementation of the Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan. This includes specific improvement targets for MA participation among disabled people, young people from BME communities, young care leavers and on addressing gender segregation;

Apprenticeships: Introduction

As the Commission made clear in its report last year, the growth of the Modern Apprenticeship ( MA) programme in recent years has provided a strong foundation on which to build. The expertise and experience of Skills Development Scotland in driving MA expansion was the catalyst for some innovative thinking from the Commission on how Modern Apprenticeships could contribute further to addressing structural youth unemployment. The recommendations from the Commission have been taken forward in a number of ways, most notably through pathfinder activity on foundation apprenticeships and work to develop Graduate Apprenticeships.

This new provision has formalised much of the school-college partnership activity already underway in pathfinder regions. And it has drawn on the existing good practice in colleges which are well equipped to work closely with local authorities on blending more work focused learning into school provision.

Foundation Apprenticeships have proved very popular both with pupils and with practitioners and we have seen good practice in Fife and West Lothian pathfinders in 2014-15 overcoming some of the long standing challenges of timetabling and travel. This good practice is informing the roll-out of foundation apprenticeships to 20 local authorities in 2015-16 with an aspiration of growing this further for 2016-17.

Looking to the future, the advanced or Graduate Apprenticeship model is being developed through partnerships between SDS, universities and employers, indicating once more the capacity for Scotland’s world-class universities to flex to the needs of industry and increasing access to higher education for more young people. Articulation routes already in place between colleges and universities have informed this work. SDS has made good progress further embedding the use of Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments in the annual contracting strategy for Modern Apprenticeships.

Key to all of this has been the aim of broadening young people’s horizons and ensuring they consider all careers, and the routes into them, as attractive options. As well as delivering careers advice earlier in schools, SDS has led a number of campaigns to target the message that specific careers – once thought of as a girl’s job or a boy’s job – are considered by all young people. Further, specific equality pilot actions led by SDS in partnership with BEMIS and Rathbone have sought to address the imbalance in uptake of training and education by some under-represented groups such as young disabled people and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

We have made good progress. But the context is continually evolving. The key challenge for the next phase of implementation is about achieving the most effective use of public funds, prioritising investment and alignment across the skills landscape. The full details and implications of the UK Government’s plans to introduce an apprenticeship levy are not yet evident. And we have redeveloped our thinking on the MA Supervisory Board, with the date for a new model moved to April 2016.

This allows us time to design an approach in Scotland which takes account a changing apprenticeship environment across the UK, and ensure that we build employer leadership into our programme taking full account of changes in how Modern Apprenticeships will be developed and funded in future.

Progress So Far



Programme Progress

Detailed update

Foundation apprenticeship pathfinder in place in Fife and West Lothian;


Delivery led by Skills Developing Scotland, who estimate that 75 pupils were enrolled on pathfinders in 2014/15.

Terms for the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Board established;

Underway in 14/15 – will be completed in 15/16

Establishment of new model moved to April 2016. This allows us time to design an approach in Scotland which takes account of the impacts of a changing apprenticeship environment across the UK, and ensures that we build employer leadership into our programme, taking full account of changes in how Modern Apprenticeships will be developed and funded in future.

New Modern Apprenticeship Identity launched to support consistent branding aimed at raising the awareness and perception of the Modern Apprenticeship offer;


First stage of brand development now being undertaken. incorporating Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships. Further consultation required with training providers and other partners regarding branding levels of MA. Consideration also being given to timings of FA / GA identity launch. Campaign concluded first week in April. Mix of digital, press and direct marketing to key and growth sectors.

Skills Development Scotland contracting strategy put in place each year for Modern Apprenticeships and the Employability Fund, in order that key changes each year are reflected to take into account the expansion plan, Skills Investment Plans ( SIPs) and Regional Skills Assessments ( RSAs);

Underway in 14/15 – will be completed in 15/16

The Modern Apprentice contracting strategy for deliver in 2016/17 has been published and is open for bids until 10 December 2015. RSAs and SIPs have informed the contracting strategy.

MA Equalities action plan published, Initial equalities pilot action implemented creating new opportunities for those from currently underrepresented groups.

Completed and ongoing

SDS has published an MA equalities action plan outlining activities to address under representation in the MA programme and setting equality targets.

Initial pilot activity ongoing in West Lothian. Marketing planning for under-represented groups based on research completed.

Discussions are underway with a wide range of stakeholder groups covering gender stereotyping, employability issues around minority ethnic groups, inclusion of young disabled people and those in care (eg. Kibble Education Centre). This area will be taken forward by the equalities team at Education Scotland as part of their overall work around inclusion and equalities.

Key themes and milestones for apprenticeships

Achieving our ambitions for the young workforce requires a focus on the following themes in relation to apprenticeships:

  • Expansion of MA opportunities to 30,000 by 2020/21.
  • Development of foundation apprenticeships in schools.
  • Development of advanced apprenticeships.
  • Focus on STEM MAs and development of higher level apprenticeships.
  • Advisory Board established, supporting greater responsiveness to labour market need meaning MAs are better aligned with job opportunities.
  • Clearer pathways into apprenticeships for those not in work or those from previously under-represented groups.

The milestones set out below detail what this will involve over the lifetime of the programme.

During 2015 – 2016, we have already seen:

  • Publication of MA equalities action plan;
  • Foundation apprenticeship pathfinders undertaken in additional local authorities.

And in the remainder of 2015-16 we expect to see:

  • First stage of expansion of the MA programme;
  • Ongoing design of graduate apprenticeship model;
  • Model and funding profile for MA expansion programme developed;
  • Terms for the Modern Apprentice Advisory Board established;
  • MA Advisory Board meets for the first time with an initial focus on evaluating current MA processes and advising on where expansion activity is best focussed;
  • Modern Apprenticeship Group reviewed to ensure model for developing MA frameworks remain fit for purpose;
  • Targeted MA campaign activity developed;
  • Early assessment of engineering foundation apprenticeships pathfinder activity;
  • Education Scotland quality assurance of MA commences;
  • Easier access to Modern Apprenticeship vacancies available through My World of Work.

During 2016 – 2017, we will see:

  • Evaluation of initial foundation apprenticeship pathfinders completed;
  • Ongoing development of Graduate Apprenticeships;
  • Work with employers and other stakeholders to ensure that the introduction of the UK wide apprenticeship levy supports our ambitions to develop the MA pathway;
  • Ongoing implementation of Modern Apprenticeship equality action plan to increase participation by under-represented groups.

During 2017 – 2018, we will see:

  • Further expansion of foundation apprenticeships across Scotland and covering other sectors;
  • Evaluation of the graduate apprenticeships pathfinder undertaken and evidence used to inform the development of an agreed model.

During 2018 – 2019, we will see:

  • Improved planning of Modern Apprenticeships with opportunities more closely aligned with key areas of growth;
  • Pilot activity on foundation and graduate apprenticeships and equalities being rolled out across the country.

During 2019 – 2020, we will see:

  • Achievement of Modern Apprenticeship volume target and diversity targets.

During 2020 – 2021, we will see:

  • At least 30,000 new MA starts each year;
  • Activity fully embedded and expansion sustained.

Education Working for All! Recommendations

This activity delivers recommendations 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 20, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, and 38.

Measures [5]

KPI 1 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the relative ratio of youth unemployment to 25-64 unemployment to the level of the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.

KPI 2 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the youth unemployment rate to match the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.

KPI 5 - The number of Modern Apprentices at level 3 and above to be increased. The target is for 20,000 out of a total of 30,000 MA starts to be at this level by 2021, i.e. two-thirds.

KPI 6 - Increase the percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education to 35 per cent by 2018.

KPI 7 - To reduce to 60 per cent the percentage of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks where the gender balance is 75:25 or worse by 2021.

KPI 9 - Increase the number of MA starts from minority ethnic communities to equal the population share by 2021.

KPI 10 - Increase the employment rate for young disabled people to the population average by 2021.

KPI 11 - Increase positive destinations for looked after children by 4 percentage points per annum resulting in parity by 2021.


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