Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney became a Software Development Apprentice for the Day as he spent time hearing from two IT foundation apprentices in Edinburgh.
Mr Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, met with Edinburgh College foundation apprentices Douglas Greig and Michael Christopher Allan, who are both in their second year of their Software Development programme ran in partnership with Microsoft and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
Across Scotland, MSPs from all parties have become Apprentices for the Day by visiting employers from a range of sectors and working alongside some of the country’s talented apprentices to gain an insight into their experience and the value they bring to business.
The Apprentice for the Day challenge is co-ordinated by (SDS). The MSP-backed initiative aims to raise further awareness of the contribution apprentices make to the Scottish economy.
Douglas and Michael, both S6 pupils at Dalkeith High School, spend one day per week learning with lecturers at the College’s Granton Campus and one day working with the Microsoft team at its Waverley Gate offices in the capital.
Throughout the two-year programme, Douglas and Michael study a wide range of topics including: developing computing applications; authoring a website; health and safety in IT; defining customer requirements for IT and telecoms systems; data modelling and games development.
The mode of study for Douglas and Michael means they are spending time gaining work experience within the IT industry, allowing them a real insight into what’s required of them to become work-ready when they go on to their first career roles after studying.
Douglas Greig said: “I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to study a Foundation Apprenticeship through Edinburgh College and Microsoft. The opportunity to gain real work experience while getting an introduction into a career I’m already passionate about is amazing and is something that would not have been possible to do within school.”
Michael Christopher Allan said: “The experience so far has been great, we’ve had the chance to work on lots of different projects with the College and Microsoft which have been really beneficial. I now hope to pursue a career in games design, and this Foundation Apprenticeship has opened that door for me by giving me real work experience which will hopefully help me move on to further study in the future.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The Apprentice for the Day challenge is a brilliant way to see first-hand the vital role that apprentices have in organisations and it was a pleasure to shadow Douglas and Michael for the day.
“Foundation Apprenticeships are a new way for young people to learn with the chance to get a head start on a career by gaining industry-recognised qualifications, working on real projects and real experience that employers look for.
“By fostering stronger links between employers and education, Foundation Apprenticeships are helping to ensure that local employers have the opportunity to play a more active role in developing the young workforce. I’d encourage all employers to tap into this generation of talent and embrace the opportunities that apprenticeships have to offer.”
Microsoft Scotland country manager Steven Grier said: “Foundation Apprenticeships are a welcome addition to the skills family in Scotland and provide a fantastic route into the world of digital technology. With almost daily advances around artificial intelligence and machine learning changing the world at pace – it’s hugely important that Scotland has a pipeline of skilled young people available to Scottish business and society to enable us to stay at the forefront of these technology advances. Foundation Apprenticeships are a vital part of that skills jigsaw and Microsoft are delighted to be a part of the programme.”
SDS national manager for Foundation Apprenticeships Graeme Hendry said: “Foundation Apprenticeships provide vital qualifications and skills for young people to progress into work including Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships as well as being recognised for entry into colleges and universities across Scotland.
“For employers, Foundation Apprenticeships provide a pipeline of talent to allow them to shape and develop a workforce for a strong, sustainable business.”