New report outlines value of Graduate Apprenticeships in Scotland


NEW research has highlighted the value Scottish employers place on Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs).

Independent research body, the Edge Foundation, has published a report called Graduate Apprenticeships: Developing Scotland’s Future Workforce, which found that GAs have a ‘critical’ role in driving economic growth, productivity and responding to future skills needs, with employers demanding more work-based learning opportunities.

The study examines the current supply and asks if this is enough to sustain and respond to the future of the labour market.

Researchers found that Graduate Apprenticeships are valued by both employers and learners, while recommending some changes around flexibility, funding and the broadening of disciplines available, to help strengthen the system in Scotland.

Graduate Apprenticeships have been available in Scotland since 2017, offering a blend of academic and work-based approaches where the apprentice learns while being a paid employee.

Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s minister for higher education and further education, youth employment and training, said, “The pandemic has had a significant impact on Scotland’s economy and apprenticeships have not been spared the effects as employers have reviewed and delayed recruitment plans. While new apprenticeship starts are moving in the right direction, recent statistics suggest employers are still having to make difficult business decisions.

“The research commissioned by the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) will provide a good platform for discussions on how we can strengthen the impact and reach of Graduate Apprenticeships.”

The report was commissioned by The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) to help employers understand the current apprenticeship system, the future of work and the role apprenticeships have in helping the post-pandemic recovery.

Paul Campbell, head of learning & organisational development, Scottish Water and chair of Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) employer engagement group, said, “Employers want Graduate Apprenticeships – they deliver the right skills, faster. Graduate Apprenticeships combine theory and practical workplace skills from the start and therefore add value much sooner, unlike traditional academic education.

“The Edge Foundation’s report distils current thinking of employers, along with apprentices who have been or are going through a GA programme, with expert knowledge and examples of successes in work-based learning from high performing economies. The report clearly highlights the value of GAs to businesses in Scotland and demonstrates the need for this to be communicated clearly.

“My hope is that employers, policy makers and educators will use these findings to be innovative around the future adaptations of Graduate Apprenticeships and grow them in volume and in terms of sectors. Graduate Apprenticeships are desirable, unique and offer so much to everyone involved.”

The report highlights opportunities to strengthen and grow the Scottish model, including recommendations to improve flexibility and allow employers to drive demand, secure longer-term funding and raise awareness of GA programmes in schools.