24 March 2023

Foundation Apprenticeships making a real difference to Aberdeenshire pupils

Almost three times as many pupils are now undertaking Foundation Apprenticeships in Aberdeenshire Schools since their launch in 2019.

At Thursday’s (March 23) Education and Children’s Services Committee, members received an update report on Developing the Young Workforce (DYW).

The scheme offers school pupils the opportunity to access a wide-range of work experience and learning opportunities – including business skills, creative and digital media, children and young people, engineering, health and social care, IT software and hardware, scientific technologies, food and drink technologies, automotive, construction, and hospitality.

Committee chair Cllr Gillian Owen said: “We were really proud of the work Aberdeenshire has undertaken over the past few years as a foundation apprenticeship provider.

“It was pleasing to note recently that 18% of leavers last year left school with at least one vocational qualification at level six, which is more than any other local authority area.”

Aberdeenshire Council academies have encouraged S4-6 pupils to take Foundation Apprenticeships as part of their qualifications.  

These dovetail with the employment needs in the key sectors both locally and nationally across Scotland. 

Figures show that in 2020/21, 100% of pupils that took a Foundation Apprenticeships as part of their qualifications went on to a positive destination such as higher education, further education, or employment.

Cllr Owen added: “I think we have to understand that not everyone is academic - and not all who are academic necessarily want to take exams and being hands on is by far a better approach. 

“Each August when we highlight the results and achievements across Aberdeenshire, we note the reporting of results day can be completely blinkered by which schools are achieving the most A stars. 

“Now don't get me wrong, five A stars is a fantastic result, but there are many other results that they really need to take cognisance of. 

“Youngsters nowadays have many different pathways they can take and not all end in an exam.”

Aberdeenshire Council became a lead provider of Foundation Apprenticeships launching its first courses in June 2019. 

Since then there has been a significant increase in uptake from pupils – from 208 initially to 785 in 2022/23.

Vice Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee Cllr Anne Simpson said: “The qualification has proved so popular because they are at the same level as a Higher, but with the unique benefit of providing meaningful work placements alongside. 

“Work-based learning helps give pupils the skills and experience they need to reach their potential and secure the skills they need for future careers.

“FAs are a fantastic opportunity for our young people and we would encourage all employers to get involved. Hosting a FA gives employers the chance to get fresh talent straight into their workforce.”

Employers of all sectors and sizes support Foundation Apprenticeships across Aberdeenshire.