Monday, 19 May 2014

Celebrating Modern Apprenticeship Week with Scottish Union Learning

Jessica Thomson is a UCATT member and a Stone Masonry Modern Apprentice at Historic Scotland in Stirling

During STUC Annual Congress this past April, First Minister Alex Salmond MSP announced that Scotland's Modern Apprenticeship programme will expand to provide work for 30,000 young people a year by 2020.  The annual target for new modern apprenticeships is currently 25,000.

Modern Apprenticeships equip Scotland’s young workers with employment, skills and experience. Though the Modern Apprenticeship programme targets young people, in 2012-2013, 23% of those workers starting a Modern Apprenticeship were over the age of 25. Therefore, the Modern Apprenticeship Programme also provides an important opportunity to support older workers in developing new skills which can assist their career progression and job security.  Unions help to ensure that Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland are high quality and lead to industry-recognised qualifications.

Trade unions play an important role in the development and review of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks.  Unions also encourage employers to engage with Modern Apprenticeships and to offer good terms and conditions, decent pay rates and a safe working environment for apprentices.

The Modern Apprenticeship Toolkit from Scottish Union Learning, supported by Skills Development Scotland, contains practical information and case studies that describe the technical and practical aspects of the Modern Apprenticeship Programme in Scotland. It has a particular focus on occupational segregation and under-representation of Women, BME and Disabled workers.  The Toolkit features useful materials for Modern Apprentices, such as case studies, legal rights, pay levels and health and safety information.

This is the second edition of the Modern Apprenticeship Toolkit. It has been refreshed to reflect important changes in the programme.  There is also a concentrated focus on equalities due to the fact that BME and disabled workers continue to be underrepresented in the Modern Apprenticeship programme. In addition, many programmes suffer from gender stereotyping with consequent implications for the equal pay gap and the role of women at work. This toolkit demonstrates that unions can and do play an important role in tackling these equality issues.  

Unions must continue to fight for equalities with the expansion of the Modern Apprenticeship programme in 2020 and beyond.  Unions ensure that Modern Apprenticeship programmes respect equality and diversity and offer a source of support for apprentices, many of whom are new to the workplace. The Modern Apprenticeship Toolkit provides an overview of Modern Apprenticeships and outlines how unions, employers and individuals can successfully engage with the programme.  

You can download a copy of the Modern Apprenticeship Toolkit by visiting the Scottish Union Learning website at

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2014 takes place from 19 to 23 May. More information can be found by visiting the Skills Development Scotland website at

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