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Promoting work-based learning through the pandemic

At the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, John Robertson, SDS’s Director of Corporate Affairs, talks about the importance of putting the spotlight on work-based learning pathways.

John Robertson, Director of Corporate Affairs, Skills Development Scotland

Economic plans and the Scottish Government have put apprenticeships at the heart of an education-led recovery as we emerge from the pandemic.

And with the Young Person’s Guarantee now established as a firm commitment to Scotland’s young people, this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week - the annual celebration of work-based learning - couldn’t come at a more important time.

Like everything else this year, the campaign looks a bit different but remains a crucial and wide-reaching part of the skills and apprenticeships calendar.

Between 1-5 March, hundreds of employers, learning providers, national and local partners will be promoting apprenticeships via a wide range of virtual events, webinars and through social media.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Business Backing Talent”. It recognises the incredible support that businesses have given their apprentices over the past year. It also highlights the critical importance of creating new opportunities for young people entering the labour market.

Amongst a huge programme of events and activities, a highlight for the week will be the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

Taking place for the first time during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, this year’s awards have seen a record number of nominations, with brilliant backing from Scotland’s FE and HE institutions.

Five of our apprentice finalists have been supported by Scotland’s colleges and universities and we’re looking forward to announcing the winners at 7pm on Thursday 4 March.

There has never been a more critical time to raise the profile of work-based learning pathways.

Coming into Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we have been running a sustained focused campaign asking employers to keep creating opportunities for young people.

Our business-focused ‘Give a chance’ marketing campaign has been running since November, using radio, video on demand, digital marketing and social media to target employers who may be able to offer new opportunities through the pandemic.

The campaign, which highlights up to £5,000 of funding through the Apprenticeship Employer Grant, will feature on targeted TV schedules through Scottish Apprenticeship Week until the end of March.

With subject choices taking place remotely and to a different timetable this year, we’re also currently targeting senior phase school pupils, their parents and carers around Foundation Apprenticeships.

Engineering students

In recent years, SDS has invested heavily in raising national awareness of Foundation Apprenticeships in support of local recruitment driven by colleges and local authorities.

We have refined our approach this year based on insight and evidence from previous campaigns, whilst keeping in mind that media consumption has changed significantly in recent months.

Our campaign this year focuses heavily on social media where we know that young people spend the bulk of their media time. We’ve been using Instagram and Snapchat to good effect in recent campaigns, and this year have added TikTok to the schedule.

Again, using strong audience insight, we’ve also updated our creative approach for this year’s campaign, with a creative which goes beyond the here and now to focus on where a Foundation Apprenticeship can take you.

The call to action for the campaign is to visit the national website for Scottish Apprenticeships where young people and parents can check local availability and register their interest.

These registrations are then passed on to local learning providers, offering a pipeline of potential new recruits for programmes starting later this year.

Assets for all of this campaign activity are available for learning providers at www.apprenticeships.scot.

John Robertson, Director of Corporate Affairs, Skills Development Scotland - 1 Mar 2021