SQA providing apprenticeship opportunities in Glasgow and Midlothian

2 March 2020

Sarah Anne Rooney, SQA Employee Development Programme Manager, with current and former SQA Modern Apprentices Lauren, Anna and Lindsey
Sarah Anne Rooney (l), SQA Employee Development Programme Manager, with current and former SQA Modern Apprentices Lauren, Anna and Lindsey

From Monday 2 March, applications are open for this year's intake of Modern Apprentices at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

This is the eighth year SQA has run its Pathway Programme, which sees young starts aged between 16 and 19 take on a variety of roles and responsibilities with Scotland's national awarding and accreditation body.

SQA's Pathway programme recognises that many young people leave school without a clear career path. The SQA programme helps them take the first step in their career by providing them with relevant work experience across a variety of departments - including Finance, HR, Business Systems, Marketing and Communications, and Events - combined with the opportunity to gain two nationally recognised qualifications.

SQA apprentice Josh Millan
SQA apprentice Josh Millan

Josh Millan, one of SQA's current first year Modern Apprentices at its city centre in Glasgow office, offered his views on his experience so far, and encourages others about to leave school to consider applying for a SQA Modern Apprenticeship.

The former Paisley Grammar pupil said: ¿As a Modern Apprentice, I've been offered the chance to gain experiences in departments across the organisation, and I've had a real insight into what SQA does. Just now I'm working with our Data Solutions team in Business Systems, and I'm about to start a six-month rotation with our International team in Business Development. Before I joined SQA, I thought all they did was school exams, but there's so much more going on than I first realised.

¿As part of my apprenticeship, I attend City of Glasgow College one day a week working towards a Higher National Certificate in Business, where I get to meet other HNC students doing the course. I'm also working towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration. SVQs are work-based qualifications, which means I gather evidence using the work I've done and use that to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that I've learned.¿

Former SQA apprentice Cameron Summerville
Former SQA apprentice Cameron Summerville

Cameron Summerville, a former Modern Apprentice, who joined SQA's Shawfair office near Dalkeith in 2017, talked about his experience of working towards his apprenticeship, and how it has helped him in his career.

The former Dalkeith High School pupil said: ¿I wasn't too sure on what I wanted to do after I left school, so the opportunity to gain qualifications at college and in work whilst earning a salary was very appealing to me. Also, the fact that I would get to rotate around different departments over the two years to see what sort of thing I enjoyed doing was a huge bonus. I learnt a lot about myself and gained lots of skills and experiences to boost my CV once my apprenticeship finished, and it was time to get a permanent job.¿

Cameron added: ¿Originally, my aim was to complete my apprenticeship and gain my qualifications, then move onto new things. However, I enjoyed my time at SQA so much that I felt applying for a permanent role was the right thing for me. I'm young, so I've still got plenty of time to decide what I want to do, but in the meantime, I've been working for over two years, I'm now a supervisor, and I've got a couple of good qualifications that demonstrate my knowledge and skills.¿

¿I would encourage any young person trying to figure out what they want to do, to give the Modern Apprenticeship at SQA a try. Whether you eventually apply for a job with SQA, move to a new employer, or consider further education and training at the end of the programme is completely up to you and you will be supported equally with whatever you decide.¿

Sarah Anne Rooney, Employee Development Programme Manager at SQA, adds: ¿Modern Apprentices at SQA are working members of our teams. They have real responsibilities, and they do value-adding work. But while they are with us, we also ensure that they are fully supported in their development and can gain the skills and experience they need to complete their SVQ and their HNC.¿

Sarah Anne continues: ¿In addition, our Modern Apprentices are encouraged to contribute, or in some cases even lead on projects and initiatives away from their day-to-day roles. Our current Year 2 Modern Apprentices were named winners of the 2019 Glasgow Apprenticeship Challenge, and on Friday 6 March they'll be among the finalists of the Scottish Apprenticeship Challenge.¿

The team from SQA - Lindsey Burke, Anna McGowan, Lauren Graham, and Eve Cunningham - were shortlisted after winning the Glasgow Apprenticeship Challenge back in November, for their project developing a work-experience programme for a young man with learning difficulties.

SQA apprentices leading an employability workshop
SQA apprentices lead an employability workshop

SQA's Modern Apprentices have also contributed to a number of employability workshops working with schools across our communities in Glasgow, and Midlothian. And SQA apprentices have worked with youth organisation Young Scot's study looking at the future of assessment.

Sarah Anne Rooney says: ¿Our programme allows each SQA Modern Apprentice to develop a rounded approach to work. They gain real transferable skills, which are backed up by two nationally recognised qualifications they can use to take forward into further education and training, or into future business and administrative positions with SQA, or with another employer.¿

Applications are now being accepted for entry onto the 2020 SQA Pathways Modern Apprenticeship programme. For further details on how to apply, visit www.sqa.org.uk/pathway.

Information on the SQA qualifications that underpin Modern Apprenticeships, Foundation Apprenticeships, and Graduate Apprenticeships, can be found at www.sqa.org.uk/apprenticeships.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020 runs from Monday 2 - Friday 6 March.