Laptop scheme helps apprentices benefit from online learning

Darren McLay

SCOTLAND’S electrical apprentices and trainees can benefit from a new laptop loan scheme to allow them to continue their studies remotely.

Laptops are being distributed by the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) after joint funding by SELECT, the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), and the Electrical Engineering Training Foundation (EETF).

The move means apprentices and trainees will be able to partake in online learning until colleges reopen in the coming weeks.

Anne Galbraith, CEO of SECTT said, “When we went into lockdown, it soon became clear that some apprentices were suffering digital poverty and couldn’t continue their studies online. A SECTT survey found that 55 of our current 2,750 apprentices and trainees had no access to a laptop, tablet or similar equipment, so we felt we had to do something to support them.

“With no funds available to electrical apprentices, the SECTT board of trustees agreed that we should help and our colleagues at SELECT, the SJIB and the EETF immediately contributed towards the purchase of laptops.”

The first devices were distributed in July, with SECTT staff observing physical distancing and health and safety measures during handover.

One of the first recipients was Darren McLay from Cumbernauld-based ID Systems UK, who said, “With the college and public libraries being closed I haven’t been able to continue with my college work. I’m therefore grateful to SECTT for lending me this laptop so I can now get on with things properly.”

Anne Galbraith added, “In the short term, these measures will benefit our current apprentices until we can return to face-to-face learning, and will also play a part in learning and training in the future. This difficult and enforced situation has taught us that we can cover some topics remotely and we should use this platform as a support for all apprentices and trainees going forward.”

Plans are being formalised for apprentices to return to college in August and September.

SELECT MD Alan Wilson commented, “We were delighted to be able to contribute to this extremely worthwhile cause. The past four months haven’t thrown up many good news stories, so it’s good to be talking about something positive like this for a change.”

Fiona Harper, the secretary of the SJIB added, “We were also more than willing to contribute to this project and have been encouraged to see the impact it has made already. There is obviously no substitute for face-to-face learning, but this lifeline will help the next generation until colleges can open properly once again.”