Modern Apprentices succeed at SQA

SQA has reached a significant milestone as its first Modern Apprentice has been successfully appointed to an administrative position within its procedural events team.

Zak Birrell is due to complete his two-year HNC course in Administration and Information Technology at Edinburgh College over the next few weeks, which included a workplace based SVQ in Business Administration.

Speaking about his apprenticeship, Zak said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time working across a number of departments at SQA and I’m looking forward to getting on with my new job.”

Since Zak joined SQA in 2012, four more Modern Apprentices have followed in his footsteps and are undergoing their on-the-job training.

Caileigh Johnson and Siobhan Alexander, both located at SQA’s offices in Dalkeith and Glasgow based Paul Ferguson and Andrew Crosbie, all started their modern apprenticeships last year and have recently moved onto their second 6-month placement within their respective teams.

Asked about why she decided to apply for the Modern Apprenticeship at SQA, Caileigh said: “I thought it was a brilliant opportunity as not only would I get the chance of two year’s work experience but I would also get to work towards two qualifications; a HNC and an SVQ.  There is also a possibility of a full time job at the end of my apprenticeship.”

Paul added: “Since joining SQA I’ve learned how to better manage my time and I’ve enjoyed working with different teams, firstly in Centre Support and now with Events.”

Andrew said: “I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to study for my SVQ and HNC.  I’ve passed all my assessments to date and I’m looking forward getting on with my course and picking up new skills.”

Siobhan offered some advice to other youngsters considering a Modern Apprenticeship as their next destination after school, saying: “I feel it is a great opportunity. You gain so much experience of what it’s like to be at work all while studying for a HNC and a SVQ.  I get to earn money while I learn and I’m picking up skills and qualifications that employers want.”

Maidie Cahill, Director of Corporate Services at SQA said: “Zak’s success is a testament to the hard work he has put in over the past two years and I’m sure his achievements will inspire Caileigh, Andrew, Siobhan and Paul to do the same.  The Modern Apprenticeship programme is a key component of our corporate social responsibility strategy, the focus of which is to give something back to local communities. We have always supported the delivery of apprenticeships in our role as Scotland‘s national accreditation and awarding body, and we have taken this further by supporting them as an employer as well.

Maidie added: “We’re currently recruiting our third intake of Modern Apprentices and I would thoroughly recommend that young people who are thinking about leaving school this summer seriously consider a Modern Apprenticeship a great way of getting a first step into a potential career.”

SQA is accepting applications for the 2014 intake of Modern Apprentices. The closing date for applications is Friday 30 May. For more information visit