Minister meets young apprentices

Published Monday, 2nd July 2018 in Study at SRUC news

Jamie hepburn with pupils
Employability and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn, along with SRUC’s Professor Sarah Skerratt and Professor Jamie Newbold, meet some of the East Lothian pupils taking part in the Foundation Apprenticeship Scheme at the Royal Highland Show. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Scotland’s Minister for Employability and Training has welcomed a new partnership between SRUC and East Lothian Council to give secondary school pupils the chance to work in SRUC’s laboratories.

During a visit to the SRUC stand at the Royal Highland Show, Jamie Hepburn also heard about the college’s Rural Skills outreach programme, which will see lecturers deliver classes in East Lothian two days a week. 

Thanks to support from the Skills Development Scotland, five pupils from Dunbar Grammar School and another from Haddington’s Knox Academy will undertake a Foundation Apprenticeship in Scientific Technologies.

Over the next two years, the pupils will work towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) by doing a variety of lab-based work, where they will assist some of SRUC’s world-leading scientists.

The Rural Skills programme, meanwhile, will see a group of 14 to 16-year-old pupils from Musselburgh Grammar, Knox Academy, Preston Lodge (Prestonpans) and Ross High (Tranent) work towards a National Progression Award (NPA) aimed at those who wish to consider a career in the land-based sector.

Mr Hepburn said: “This is a fantastic initiative, which will enable secondary school pupils from across East Lothian the opportunity to work towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification by gaining valuable lab-based work experience in partnership with Scotland’s Rural College. Opportunities such as these are to be welcomed as a first step in encouraging pupils to explore the variety of careers available in the land-based sector.”

Professor Jamie Newbold, Academic Director at SRUC, said: “The Royal Highland Show was the perfect setting to introduce these East Lothian pupils to the enormous range of careers that might be available to them. Getting to experience at first hand the kind of work that goes on in the industry is invaluable. With the Foundation Apprenticeship, we want to dispel this myth that laboratory work is all about wearing white coats and filling pipettes, while our rural skills programme will provide pupils with a solid stepping stone towards further study and an eventual career in the land-based sector.”

Shamin Akhtar, East Lothian Council’s cabinet spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, said: “We are committed to providing our young people with the best possible education, supporting and encouraging them to achieve their very best. We aspire to furnish pupils with the skills that they require to flourish in jobs of the future, many of which do not yet exist.

“East Lothian is a spectacular region bordered by hills and beaches, with an arable heartland in between. Food Security and Scientific Technology are central to modern agricultural practices, and are emerging industries in Scotland’s economy. Our partnership with SRUC, both in land-based industries and through the Scientific Technologies Foundation Apprenticeship, is central to our strategic plan to develop the foundations of our regional agricultural workforce.

“We are also exploring pathways for young people to move into undergraduate studies, and looking to develop closer links with the National Farmer’s Union, all of which will support young people considering a career in the land-based sector.”

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