28-02-2022 Solo - SDS - Apprentice Awards - Jennifer Kolonko - CocaCola Pic:Andy Barr www.andybarr.com © Andrew Barr Photography. No reuse without permission. andybarr@mac.com +44 7974923919

Scotland’s employers are gaining fresh ideas and new talent through apprenticeships that is cutting costs and securing a skilled workforce for the future.

Held recently, Skills Development Scotland’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards shone a spotlight on the value apprentices bring to businesses.

The event celebrated the resilience and hard work of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices, as well recognising those employers, learning providers and individuals who champion apprenticeships.

The most coveted award went to Coca-Cola Europacific engineer and former Modern Apprentice Jennifer Kolonko, who was named Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year.

The first female engineer at Coca-Cola Europacific’s East Kilbride site, Jennifer has pioneered new and innovative solutions to engineering problems that cut waste and championed diversity within the company.

Sharon Blyfield, Head of Early Careers at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, said: “During her apprenticeship, Jennifer played a vital role in leading a project to improve mechanical efficiency across the site on the Capri-Sun line.

“She spotted an opportunity to reduce the number of jams. She designed and implemented a system guide to support colleagues in establishing the quickest routes to resolve issues. It has drastically improved mechanical efficiency, reducing waste by 30 per cent and producing up to 10 per cent more product.”

Highland teenager and Foundation Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Scottish Funding Council, Nathan MacDonald is on track for a career in mechanics thanks to a Foundation Apprenticeship he took as a school subject.

Inverness Kart Raceway, where Nathan gained work experience as part of his apprenticeship, spotted the potential in the 17 year old and has given him a job.

Nathan, from Inverness, started his SCQF Level 4 Foundation Apprenticeship in mechanics as an option choice at Glen Urquhart High School. He’s now progressed on to college in addition to taking on his job at the karting centre.

Corrin Henderson is chief executive of the DAY1 mentoring charity that is the learning provision arm for Inverness Kart Raceway and provided support to Nathan on his apprenticeship. Corrin said: “Nathan showed a genuine spark of interest when he came to us. He had a good attitude and we nurtured that as a charity, employer and trainer. He matured and grew in confidence during his Foundation Apprenticeship. He’s more resilient now with very firm ideas about his future.”

Lerwick firm, Bon Accord Accountancy has been able to attract local talent through apprenticeships.

Modern Apprentice of the Year at SCQF Level 5 sponsored by College Development Network, Sarah Sandison was able to achieve her goal of building her career in her home of Shetland.

Sarah is currently doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Accounting and, despite the challenges of lockdown, she has progressed well, moving up from foundation to intermediate level and is on track to reach the professional level.

Allan Jamieson is one of the directors of Bon Accord Accountancy Limited, which has 13 employees and one Modern Apprentice within the Shetland office. He said: “A Modern Apprenticeship is a good approach as it lets people work and get invaluable practical knowledge. Apprenticeships are advantageous for us as it can be difficult to find and retain skilled staff in Shetland in the way that firms in or close to big cities can.”

Graduate Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Morrison Construction, Meg Scott has been instrumental in driving major projects for her employer, AECOM.

Meg has impressed colleagues, clients and industry leaders since beginning her Civil Engineering Graduate Apprenticeship at global engineering firm, AECOM.

The 21 year old has already become a valuable team member having completed Civils 3D training. She put this learning into practice by developing a full signalised junction design in Aviemore and the drawing package has been used to secure construction funding and support the appointment of a contractor for the construction in early 2022.

AECOM Associate Director, Peter Leslie said: “One of the benefits to the business of Graduate Apprenticeships is that when Meg graduates she’ll already have had three years’ experience working with us. You can potentially have and 18-year-old joining the company who will be a graduate by the time they are 21.

“Apprenticeships are good for people development. A Graduate Apprentice like Meg can be the line manager to the next generation of engineers.”

Apprentice employers recognised at the awards included Glasgow-based SME, Pointer Ltd, which has invested in additional support for apprentices to help diversify its business and secure skills for its future.

Enabling access to apprenticeship opportunities for people, regardless of barriers to learning, has been a focus for fire and security specialists Pointer Ltd.

Pointer Ltd Development Officer David Buntain said: “Probably the most measurable business benefit of apprenticeships is that most of our apprentices stay with us and progress through our career path in the company. Some have been with us over 30 years.”

Ayrshire-based vitamins manufacturer, DSM, has tapped into diverse local talent and build partnerships to supplement the skills it needs to grow its business.

Apprenticeships has enabled DSM Dalry to upskill existing employees and provided young people with opportunities to enter careers in science, engineering and technology. According to David Mills, DSM People Partner, apprenticeships have provided a talent pipeline for the replacement of retiring staff, in line with the site succession planning. This has provided tangible benefits in relation to the sustained recruitment of skilled staff that complements the business and end customer requirements.

The company’s investment in apprenticeships actions has also paved the way for a new era of young women to consider a STEM-related career within DSM.

Visit apprenticeships.scot to find out how apprenticeships can work for your business.