What is a Foundation Apprenticeship?

What is a Foundation Apprenticeship?

We give senior year pupils a ‘top tip’ in how to stand out from the crowd…

This week we are getting behind Scottish Apprenticeship Week! Co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Apprenticeship Week is an annual campaign, which highlights the commitment of businesses who have decided to invest in the skills of their workforce. This also celebrates the benefits of work-based learning and showcases apprentices who have chosen work-based learning to develop their careers. 

Our Foundation Apprenticeship Coordinator Kevin Lamont, explains what a Foundation Apprenticeship is - and gives us the inside scoop of what his job entails.


What is a Foundation Apprenticeship?

A Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) is the starting point of the ‘apprenticeship family’ in Scotland. It is studied in school predominately in 5th and 6th year. It can lead on to a Modern Apprenticeship, which can be completed after leaving school. This can, in some areas, lead onto a Graduate Level Apprenticeship. FAs are the equivalent of a Higher and can be used, like any other Higher, to progress onto college or university.

The key aspect of the FAs that separate them from other courses is the work-based element of the programme. All students get a significant period of work placement. This helps them to ‘stand out from the crowd’, when it comes to applying to university or securing a Modern Apprenticeship. They are designed to give pupils different career pathways. FAs were originally devised because of the Wood report, which identified key areas within Scotland where there was a shortage of qualified young people.

How do interested pupils sign up and how does the course work?

The young people of Perth and Kinross secondary schools apply for the FA courses as part of their S5 option choices in February. Interviews take place in April and the courses start in August each year. Pupils come to college all day on a Friday and study their other courses at school Monday to Thursday.


What can pupils study?

We are currently in our fourth year of offering FAs at Perth College UHI. We have gone in that time from 16 students in 2016-18, to 35 students in 2017-19 and now 50 students in 2018-20. Over that time, we have gone from two courses in 2016 up to potentially seven courses in 2019. We plan to offer Engineering, Civil Engineering, Social Services (Children and Young People), Social Services and Healthcare, Creative and Digital Media, Business Skills and Food and Drink Technologies. 


What does your job entail?

My day-to-day job as Foundation Apprenticeship Coordinator consists of engaging with key stakeholders on the FA programme. We have two year groups of students at any one time in college. We engage with all ten secondary schools in Perth and Kinross, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) who run the programme, Perth and Kinross Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), universities and employers across Perth and Kinross. We work very closely with the University of the Highlands and Islands work-based learning HUB in Inverness who are the main point of contact with SDS in administering the FA contracts.

Much of my time is spent helping recruiting pupils onto the programme and finding them employers for the work placement element. I also report on the current pupils to both their schools, parents and SDS. I visit all Perth and Kinross Council secondary schools regularly and talk to staff, pupils and parents to raise awareness and to recruit onto the programme. I liaise a lot with marketing in the production of materials to market the FAs.


What employers are involved?

We have many employers helping with the delivery of the programme across all the FAs we run. Some of them include: Transport Scotland, CECA, Agilecadence Ltd, AVIVA, SSE, Perth & Kinross Council, Branstons, Meddicks, Spectraglass, Balfour Beatty, W A McGarrie & Son Limited, Kilmac, Morrison Construction, Robertson Construction, Wilson Construction, Honeypot Nurseries, various children's nurseries, Oceaneering, Stagecoach, Heartland FM, House of Bruar, Culture Perth & Kinross, Dundee Cold Stores and we have more and more coming forward as the courses become more well known.


Do universities recognise the qualification?

All universities in Scotland now recognise the FAs as being the equivalent of one Higher for related degree programmes. We had a student progress last year from the Engineering FA to the Masters programme in Civil Engineering at Dundee University.


Success stories

In June 2018, we had our very first cohort of Engineering students complete their course. These students all had positive destinations as a result of successfully completing their FA. Three students progressed onto a Modern Apprenticeship with the employers that we placed them with for the work placement part of their FA. This is exactly what the FAs are designed for as it allowed the student and the employer to see if they were suitable for each other. In terms of the positive destinations, one of the students was the Perth College UHI Apprentice of the Year and was nominated as Scottish Apprentice of the Year and several case studies have been written about Ross. One of the students went to the University of Dundee and another joined the Royal Navy as an Engineering apprentice.

You can see all the courses we offer in our Foundation Apprenticeships guide. Further information can be found on our website. You can also contact me with any queries on 01738 877714 / kevin.lamont.perth@uhi.ac.uk


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