Scots firms employ thousands of graduate apprentices

Scottish employers are increasingly taking on graduate apprentices to secure new talent, according to the latest annual progress report for graduate apprenticeships, published by Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.

In the last year, the number of employers offering graduate apprenticeships rose to 530, supporting 1,166 learners across the country.

The report also reveals rising numbers of under-25s enrolling as graduate apprentices.

This age group accounted for almost half of all starts in 2021-22, supporting the ambitions of the Scottish Government Young Person’s Guarantee and meeting the needs of learners.

In the five years since their introduction in 2017, 4,692 individuals have started a graduate apprenticeship job.

The most recent figures show more than 60% of all enrolments were in a framework related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM).

Graduate apprenticeships are funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and developed and supported by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), in partnership with employers and the higher education sectors.

They are offered in key occupational growth areas and support individuals in developing the technical and person skills they need to progress.

One firm currently recruiting graduate apprentices is Morgan Sindall Construction.

David Lannigan, Senior Operations Manager at Morgan Sindall, said apprentices are helping address critical skills shortages across the industry.

Lannigan said: “There is a resource problem in getting people into the industry.

“But apprentices bring energy to the business, and graduate apprenticeships give us the opportunity to mould people, using a structured learning pathway.

“We are committed to using the graduate apprenticeship route going forward. Like most other sectors, the demographics of the industry show a high percentage of the current management resource to be in the latter stages of their careers.

“We must continue to not only replace this resource but also supplement it, to start to address the skills shortages we already have or the industry will face greater challenges than it presently has.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training said “Graduate apprenticeships are a key way for all employers to continue to invest in their workforce by providing the skills they need to thrive in the face of economic challenges both now and in the future.

“They also play a central role in our immediate priority to lead Scotland into a recovery that protects and creates jobs, while supporting the future of our young people.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work collaboratively with Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and other key partners to ensure that we build on this progress.”

Scottish Funding Council chair Mike Cantlay said: “Today’s report shows that the investment we make in Graduate Apprenticeships creates real value for both individuals and businesses.

“As the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s encouraging to see more employers creating more career opportunities through Graduate Apprenticeships.

“Looking to the future, Graduate Apprenticeships are well placed to support the green skills revolution needed for Scotland’s future net zero economy.”

Skills Development Scotland chair Frank Mitchell said: “The evidence shows that there is ever-increasing demand from employers and learners for graduate apprenticeships.

“Graduate apprenticeships are real jobs with employers that not only secure well-paid jobs, but also contribute by paying tax on their earnings and don’t incur student debt.

“At a time when Governments need to make difficult choices, this is clearly one that should be expanded.”