Applications open for SQA Modern Apprenticeship scheme

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has started recruiting for its latest intake of Modern Apprentices.

Successful applicants will spend two years with Scotland's awarding and accreditation body, gaining real transferable skills and nationally recognised qualifications.

The training programme is open to all young people aged between 16 and 19, and up to 29 for those who are disabled or care-experienced.

Sarah Anne Rooney, Employee Development Programme Manager at SQA, says the new intake of Modern Apprentices will spend time in two business areas, where they will gain the necessary skills to complete their qualifications - a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Business and Administration, and a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Business.

Sarah Anne adds: "Modern Apprentices are valued team members at SQA, and each apprentice will be fully supported as they take their first steps into the world of work. At the end of their apprenticeship, we want them to have the experience and confidence to progress in their career or into further, or higher education."

Acknowledging that starting a new job whilst working from home may be a daunting prospect, SQA adapted its recruitment process. Dawnne Mahmoud, Director of People at SQA, says these adaptations have been made to ensure apprentices are supported when they join the organisation.

Dawnne explains: "We developed a six-week series of virtual workshops to equip the new apprentices with core skills necessary in the world of work, and which will help them as they undertake their qualifications. Our apprentices also have access to online resources, which highlight the importance of mental health, and self-care.

"Throughout their induction, our apprentices have regular video calls with colleagues in their business areas, as well as with their Mentors, their Line Managers and members of SQA's Executive Team."

Robbie King, who joined SQA as a Modern Apprentice last year, says that getting to know his new colleagues, albeit via video calls, was key to his positive start to working life.

Robbie adds: "My first few weeks as an SQA Modern Apprentice were amazing. Despite working from home, the communication from my team has been excellent and has helped me gain new skills. There are so many people to talk to, including Mentors, 'Buddies', and Line Managers - it almost feels like I'm in the office!"

SQA are working in partnership training provider RT Resources, to allow apprentices to progress with their Scottish Vocational Qualification.

Claire McCallum of RT Resources acknowledges that there are challenges in some sectors, but adds that for many Modern Apprentices, undertaking their SVQ remotely has presented them with opportunities to develop new and existing skills.

Claire says: "These skills include resilience, team working, adaptability and creative thinking. They have had to take more responsibility for managing their work, with the result that they have probably developed in ways they might not otherwise have done."

Leah Canning, who has been an SQA Modern Apprentice for over a year, says that the move to remote working was challenging at first but adds: "If anything, it has taught me to be resilient in situations that are out with my control, a skill that I will use in everyday life."

Fellow apprentice Josh Millan says: "I helped with the recruiting of the new Modern Apprentices as I was on the informal interview panel - this gave me skills which will benefit me wherever my career takes me in the future."

Applications are now being accepted for entry onto the SQA Modern Apprenticeship programme. See further details on the programme and how to apply.