A talented teen has netted the title of Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year after saving hundreds of thousands of pounds for his seafood manufacturer employer.

Nineteen-year-old Jordan Fairlamb was named top apprentice at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, hosted by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) at the Caird Hall in Dundee.

Jordan was hooked on apprenticeships after learning about them from his SDS careers adviser, taking a Supply Chain Management Modern Apprenticeship with Dawnfresh Seafoods straight from school.

A thriving Scottish SME, Dawnfresh handle around 150 tonnes of fish per week, specialising in salmon and trout. The Lanarkshire-based firm supply top supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer and Asda while meeting a strong export demand from the USA, Japan and Europe.

Jordan’s role involves being responsible for the day-to-day ordering of salmon for the Bothwell Industrial Park business, managing stock worth £1.8million.

His value, potential and proactive ‘can-do’ attitude was quickly spotted by bosses. Jordan’s initiative included avoiding £60,000 of costs for the firm by single-handedly solving a customer’s packaging issue and finding a solution to save £100,000 of stock.

Jordan said: “Once we were aware that there was an issue, I spent over two full days at a storage facility stripping down 55 pallets of stock to adapt the packaging. Then I had to go back and do my ‘normal day job’. It was tiring, but worth it in the end.”

Progression to Graduate Apprenticeship

Jordan has progressed in Dawnfresh to be the company’s first Graduate Apprentice by embarking on a four-year Honours degree in Business Management from Strathclyde University’s Business school.

Jordan explained: “Doing my Modern Apprenticeship was the perfect platform to opening up further opportunities.

“Now, my Graduate Apprenticeship means that I do one day a month in uni, then the rest of my course is done online, with about 15 hours a week studying. I feel that’s the best way to learn.

“My Modern Apprenticeship was about demonstrating that I could do something in practice, but I’m now learning about the theory and how to apply that in different situations through my Graduate Apprenticeship.

“Recently, I did a case study and analysis of my own company. I learned about Ethical Theories in Business – and then I had to apply this to my workplace. It helped me understand how ethics are important in food production.

“With the Graduate Apprenticeship I get the combination of the theoretical approach and policies but also the reality of what that looks like for my company.”

More and more Scottish employers are turning to Graduate Apprenticeships to meet their critical skills gap, with over 400 employers now choosing to invest in Graduate Apprenticeships. Employers are tapping into the range of frameworks available, from Cyber Security to Design and Manufacture, which are designed by employers and mapped to the skills needs of business.

Helen Muir, HR Director of Dawnfresh and member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board sees Graduate Apprentices as helping provide the skills critical for the future success of the business:

“We see Graduate Apprenticeships as a strategic focus in developing our future leaders.

 “It is a real advantage to have Jordan going through his Graduate Apprenticeship in Business Management at Strathclyde University, while continuing to work with us,” said Helen.

“We have seen the value already, as Jordan’s commercial awareness has improved, and he is more conscious of external impacts on the business. It is exciting to have apprentices of Jordan’s calibre at Dawnfresh – he has a fantastic work ethic and desire to improve himself.”

Sharing his apprenticeship story

But Jordan’s involvement with apprenticeships goes beyond his own job and his studies. As an active member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, he also takes time to provide apprentice insight into the policies of work-based learning, with the aim of promoting the benefits of apprenticeships to other young people, parents and teachers.

“Some of the meetings I’ve attended have allowed me to feedback on the design of websites, or even the right sort of language for campaigns on apprenticeships” he explains. “It’s important that when policies and ideas are being developed, that there’s input from the people it will affect – the apprentices.”

Jordan’s involvement with the Advisory Board has meant that he’s been instrumental in helping to build a new national, cross-sectoral initiative – Scotland Apprentice Network – to help connect schools with employers.

“The Network is all about allowing apprentices like me to go out and speak to school pupils, making their subject choices, and tell them about my personal experience.

“Joining the Network has been great for me – it’s given me the chance to meet other apprentices, to see different ages, types of jobs and find out what they do.

“Also, as a member, you receive free training which helps build your CV further. I’ve already had courses on building your LinkedIn profile, Mental Health First Aid and most recently, Career Management Skills.”

“I joined the Network to make a difference. It’s good for people at school to know that there are options through apprenticeships – a route that was highlighted to me when I was at school – and hopefully I can be an example to show how it can lead on to great things.”

  • For more info on Graduate Apprenticeships, visit: https://www.apprenticeships.scot/for-employers/graduate-apprenticeships/
  • Scotland’s Apprentice Network is open to past and present apprentices across Scotland: www.apprenticeships.scot/network
  • Find out more about the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board and its Apprentice Engagement Group.