Across Scotland, a growing number of businesses recognise the importance and value of investing in a pipeline of new talent through Foundation Apprenticeships.

At last week’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, the spotlight was shone on talented young people, who have blossomed after starting Foundation Apprenticeships.

Annabel Stewart was crowned Foundation Apprentice of the Year at the virtual awards ceremony, delivered by Skills Development Scotland, due to her successful apprenticeship with Charles River Laboratories, Edinburgh.

The company currently employs two Modern Apprentices and has taken on nine Foundation Apprentices to create the next generation of trained and dedicated employees.

Charles River Laboratories Study Director Fiona Ross believes Foundation Apprenticeships are the right way forward in order to identify and recruit talented young people into the Science Industry.

She said: “From an employer perspective, offering Foundation Apprenticeships is so worthwhile; they allow young people to get interested in scientific careers and we’re able to educate them on lab skills.

We offer lots of on-the-job training to Foundation Apprentices and they tend to develop brilliantly.”

Foundation Apprenticeships are taken alongside Highers and Nationals as a school subject in senior phase over one or two academic years.

Through a Foundation Apprenticeship, pupils spend time out of school with a learning provider, such as a college, and gain valuable workplace experience with an employer.

Completion then leads to a qualification at the same level as a Higher, which can support progression on to a job, such as a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship, or entry into college or university.

IT company Boxportable are seeing the benefits of Foundation Apprenticeships for unearthing new talent and awards finalist Matthew Robertson is proof of that.

Managing Director Graeme Anderson praised 18-year-old Matthew’s approach to his duties and said: “Foundation Apprentices bring fresh ideas to the company and they are worthy contributors. We give Foundation Apprentices, like Matthew, a chance to prove themselves and gain valuable workplace experience.”

West Dunbartonshire Council apprentice Wiktoria Bak was also shortlisted for the award and her manager, Tracy Monaghan championed the merits of Foundation Apprenticeships.

Tracy said: “Foundation Apprenticeships give young people an opportunity to sample a line of work and decide if that’s where they see their future. They develop workplace skills, alongside theory, that they wouldn’t get at school.

“Foundation Apprenticeships give young people a level of understanding which puts them ahead of others when they move on to their next journey and it also gives them an opportunity to sample a career before fully-committing to it.

“I absolutely love the Foundation Apprenticeship programme – I think it is great. It empowers young people and allows them to stand out. They’re a no-brainer for school pupils.”