Young people from schools across Aberdeenshire are marking official confirmation of their SQA assessment results today.
The breadth of curriculum opportunities on offer to young people is a particular highlight for Aberdeenshire Council this year, with well over 400 pupils having participated in Foundation Apprenticeships and many more engaged in other alternative curricular opportunities through National Progression Awards.
Around 700 pupils are expected to join this year’s Foundation Apprenticeship cohort, demonstrating the strength of this programme which has grown year-on-year since Aberdeenshire Council was contracted by Skills Development Scotland as a lead provider of the qualification in 2019.
Already, the local authority has evidence to show that Foundation Apprenticeships are helping to address the poverty-related attainment gap, as well as enabling young people to thrive in a whole host of specialist areas, gain work experience and develop key skills for learning, life and work.
Aberdeenshire Council is also supporting a pioneering project looking at how to reassure and inspire young people about their options in a challenging work environment. Short surveys produced in a unique collaboration between DYW Moray and DYW North East ask young people how they perceive the opportunities available to them, while another questions employers about how they find future talent. The team hope the celebration around this year’s results will encourage more young people aged 16-24, and employers across the region, to participate in the surveys before these close at the end of August.
Head of education for Aberdeenshire Council Vincent Docherty said: “Congratulations to all of our young people across Aberdeenshire – you have really done yourselves proud and we’re really pleased as a local authority with our continued progress which is following a pattern of projected improvement.
“The range of courses now on offer across Aberdeenshire is helping young people reach their potential, develop new skills and feel more confident. We’ve been able to support the vast majority of our Foundation Apprentices to complete their courses this year, even in the face of a pandemic, with young people gaining online as well as in-person work experience.
“Everyone involved in the continued expansion of courses on offer is delighted and pleased to see what a difference this is making. Our success is down to the hard work of young people, and the strong partnership working between our schools and Foundation Apprenticeships team, and support services as well as partner providers. Thank you to all.”
Data analysis clearly shows a significant increase in attainment from those who have studied for Foundation Apprenticeships so far. Courses on offer include Business Skills, IT Software, Health and Social Care, Engineering and Food and Drink Technologies, and all include considerable work experience opportunities as well as input from industry specialists.
Partners include SHMU, Tullos Training, Bon Accord Care, NHS Grampian, NESCOL and Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership as well as a host of other local employers. A Foundation Apprenticeship is equivalent to Higher, with many universities, colleges and workplaces counting it as an A pass at Higher or even two Highers towards entry requirements.
Young people across Aberdeenshire’s schools are also benefiting from undertaking National Progression Awards in everything from Hairdressing to Construction to Lab Science, and the success of AFC Community Trust’s PeterDeen and FraserDeen programmes is being extended to Portlethen Academy for this coming year.
Education and Children’s Services Committee chair Cllr Gillian Owen commented: “The last academic year has again highlighted the resilience and determination of young people, families and our wonderful colleagues in schools and support services. A huge well done from me. You should all be very proud of everything you have achieved, both in class and at home, and in working with so many fantastic partners across Aberdeenshire.
“Now is an opportunity to take stock, give yourselves a real pat on the back and look forward to a bright future. We know it’s not an easy time for employers but there are still lots of opportunities out there for our young people and that’s why we’re very pleased to be supporting DYW North East and DYW Moray’s fact-finding mission.”
Mary Holland, director of the regional employers group DYW North East explained: “If we can better understand the challenges as young people see them and also employers’ approach to attracting young talent, then we can offer even better guidance and support to them. The results of the survey will also help us to influence decision making at a national as well as regional level on future training, work experience and apprenticeship initiatives.”
Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “The value of partnership working is staggering. We can see through programmes like Foundation Apprenticeships that we are making a real difference to the prospects of young people and also to local businesses, charities and public sector partners who are benefiting from their young colleagues’ willingness to learn and contribute. We hope to continue to build on that progress.”
Portlethen Academy depute head teacher Craig Cowie is pleased to welcome pupil representatives in to share their stories this year, alongside Foundation Apprentices from several other local schools.
He said: “The introduction of a wide range of Foundation Apprenticeship, National Progression Awards and SQA Awards to compliment the traditional offer of National Qualification courses has ensured that our young people are attaining qualifications at higher levels than they would have done previously whilst also better preparing them for life after school.
“At Portlethen we’re finding creative ways to deliver qualifications such as SQA Awards in Employability, Leadership, Personal Finance and Personal Development, allowing our young people to leave Portlethen Academy with an impressive and rounded attainment profile. We’re really pleased to be sharing our story and celebrating the success of young people, schools and communities across Aberdeenshire.”
For any young person interested in undertaking a Foundation Apprenticeship, visit: https://www.apprenticeships.scot/become-an-apprentice/foundation-apprenticeships/
The DYW survey open to young people aged 16-24 is available online at: http://emea.focusvision.com/survey/selfserve/21d2/210600 Employers with premises in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire or Moray are also encouraged to complete a survey online at: http://emea.focusvision.com/survey/selfserve/21d2/210602
For young people looking for support with assessing their options post school, visit: https://young.scot/campaigns/national/exam-results or call the national My World of Work team on 08081008000.