SQA introduces new Modern Apprentices


Pictured with SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown are modern apprentices Zak Birrell and Alexandra Kerr. 


Two former pupils from Newbattle Community High School and St David’s RC High School in Dalkeith have become SQA's first modern apprentices.

School leavers Alexandra Kerr and Zak Birrell were recruited after staff visited their schools and gave detailed talks about the career and employment opportunities available at SQA.  An open day was also held to encourage young people and their families to visit our offices and get insight into the apprenticeships on offer.

Both Zak and Alex will work across a number of different departments over the next two years at the Lowden office on the outskirts of Dalkeith.

Zak is currently working with the events servicing team while Alex has joined the assessment and data services unit.  As part of their apprenticeship, Alex and Zak will also attend Edinburgh College one day a week to study for an HND in Information Technology and Administration.  They will also complete a workplace SVQ qualification.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said: “Our modern apprenticeship scheme is an integral part of our work with young people in the local community.  Over the two years of their apprenticeship, Alex and Zak will work across a number of teams and build on the skills they’re learning on the job by attending college and working towards their HND and SVQ.”

“Zak and Alex will also have an SQA mentor who will be on hand to support them through their apprenticeship. Plans are already in place to extend the initiative to our Glasgow offices and recruit two more apprentices in Dalkeith during 2013.”

Speaking about her experiences of the apprenticeship Alex Kerr said: "When the team from SQA visited my school to talk about the apprenticeship opportunities I knew this was something I wanted to apply for.  So far I’ve found the jobs I’ve worked on interesting and I feel really lucky to have been given this opportunity.”

Zak added, “It’s really exciting to be part of this new programme and be one of SQA’s first modern apprentices.  I’m pleased to have been offered a job straight from school and to be able to study for an HND while I’m working really helps me put the skills I’m learning into context, hopefully making me better at my job.”

The modern apprenticeship programme is a key component of SQA’s overall corporate social responsibility strategy, the focus of which is to give something back to local communities.

SQA staff have supported numerous local initiatives over the year such as running employability workshops with pupils from Newbattle High School, providing CV master classes and mock interviews to help young people prepare for the world of work.

Pupils from Hawthornden Primary School in Bonnyrigg have also benefitted from SQA volunteers working with them on a paired reading programme, visiting the school weekly to help them with their reading skills.