First Minister kicks off Scottish Apprenticeship Week with college visit

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited a group of female Modern Apprentices from Forth Valley College in Falkirk yesterday (Monday 4 March) to launch Scottish Apprenticeship week.

Ms Sturgeon met with the 19-strong group of first year Modern Apprentices (MA), covering areas including welding and fabrication, instrumentation, power distribution and mechanical engineering. Forth Valley College (FVC) now has a total of 30 female engineering MAs currently in training at the Falkirk Campus, with moves also underway for FVC to develop a nationwide contact network for female apprentices in the engineering sector.

In attendance were four ECITB-sponsored engineering apprentices. The four women are part of the Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP), which statutory skills body for the engineering construction industry ECITB sponsors on behalf of various partner companies.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented, “Creating this network of apprentices who can share their experiences with others will help inspire the next generation.

“We know that work-based learning delivers for individuals, employers and the Scottish economy. Through the network, apprentices are going to have the chance to inspire young people to follow their example and become the apprentices of tomorrow.

“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to launch the network at Forth Valley College, and to see first-hand the excellent work being done to encourage more young women to consider careers in fields such as engineering.”

Dr Ken Thomson, principal of Forth Valley College said, “It was a pleasure to welcome the First Minister to our Falkirk Campus on Monday to help us celebrate the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2019. We are fully behind the First Minister’s launch of the Scotland’s Apprentice Network and feel this is a very positive initiative in terms of promoting apprenticeships to young people across Scotland.

“Our event also kicked off discussions around our own network for female engineers, something we are hoping to develop in partnership with industry in order to champion the achievements of female engineers and highlight opportunities available. We currently have our largest ever intake of women in this sector and during the visit we were able to introduce the First Minister to our 19 first year female MAs, in addition to some former students.

“We are very proud of our high number of female engineers and we know that encouraging women into STEM subjects is also something very close to the First Minister’s heart. I am sure her visit will have inspired these students even more and also encourage more young women into engineering and other STEM subjects.”

Director of national training programmes at Skills Development Scotland, Katie Hutton, said, “We know that the best people to showcase the benefits of apprenticeships are successful apprentices. Through the network, apprentices will have a unique opportunity to talk directly to school pupils who are making their career choices and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.”

Chris Claydon, ECITB chief executive added, “Attracting more young women into engineering is crucial if we are to address the growing skills shortages facing the industry in Scotland and across the UK.

“Modern apprenticeships are a fantastic route into engineering and we’re delighted to be supporting these four young apprentices on the OGTAP programme at Forth Valley College. They are turning traditional stereotypes on their head by showing that engineering is an attractive and rewarding career path for talented and ambitious young women.”