Helping north youngsters prove their worth

Thousands of young people from the north are also benefiting from modern apprenticeships in a range of trades.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) said that in the past 12 months, more than 1,580 modern apprenticeships started in the Highlands and islands, with a further 455 in Moray.

But there are areas where more apprentices are urgently required.

One example is Shetland’s construction industry which has witnessed a steep fall in the number of apprentices over the past seven years.

While the number of young Shetlanders taking up some form of vocational training more than doubled in the seven years until 2013, fewer and fewer are now taking up building trades.

Only two people had applied to start building apprenticeships this year, compared with 33 in 2008 it was revealed this summer, and there are currently 17 vacancies for building apprentices in Shetland.

ConstructionAnd the Federation of Master Builders warned recently that the Scottish building boom could be endangered by a skills shortage.

Gordon Nelson, director of FMB Scotland, said: “It’s welcome news that the number of people on modern apprenticeships in Scotland has increased by almost 60% since 2007. However, we need to do even more to boost the number of construction apprenticeships.

“I’m confident that if industry works closely with the Scottish Government then we can aim to beat the new target of 30,000 apprenticeships by 2020. The sooner we address the skills crisis the better.”

SDS head of region for the Highlands and Islands, Anthony Standing, said: “Modern apprenticeships bring benefits to employers of all sizes, from family firms to global companies.

“Last year there were 2,333 modern apprenticeships in the Highlands and islands and more than 25,000 apprenticeships across Scotland.

“Modern apprenticeships help to retain young people and support the local economy by anchoring skills and jobs in the Highlands and islands.

“Apprenticeships also provide opportunities for employers to ensure their workforce has the right skills to support growth and development.

“It is easier than a lot of employers might think and Skills Development Scotland staff are on-hand to talk to them about the different types of apprenticeships, as well as the funding available.

“There really is no time like the present for employers to think about the skills their business and their employees will need in the future.”

Highland Council also launched its own scheme in partnership with local firms and the Construction Industry Training Board.

The Shared Apprenticeship Scheme gives more companies the opportunity to set up apprenticeship places by sharing the apprentice with other employers.

This year, the council recruited six new building maintenance apprenticeship positions in four different areas of Highland.

The apprenticeships covered painting, plumbing and joinery. There was also an electrician post.

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