For this Scottish Apprenticeship Week, I want to celebrate the work we do as the authorising body for approximately 25% of Modern Apprenticeships, and the work we do with Skills Development Scotland to ensure that National Occupational Standards remain relevant and up to date.
In the last 12 months, we have reviewed the National Occupational Standards that span many sectors. These include Management & Leadership, Business Administration, Marketing, Customer Service and Contact Centres.
As industries and employers start to plan their route out of lockdown, it is vital that the skills required for the future are reflected in these standards. This will in turn allow vocational qualifications and apprenticeships to equip the workforce for the coming decades.
We are proud to work in partnership with Skills Development Scotland (alongside employers, training providers, awarding organisations, and professional bodies) to support learners in achieving the skills they need for a brighter future.
This is what we do. Yet I would also like to offer a personal reflection on my time working in Scotland, which I believe demonstrates why we do this.
Before I became CEO of Instructus, wherein my interest in Scottish apprenticeships is natural, I was Managing Director of a business with over 100 employees at our key site on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
I have two takeouts from my time as an employer in Scotland.
- Loyalty, and passion for the organisation and customers, were key attributes of our employees.
- We found great talent – but more by luck than judgement.
This second point is important and puts me in mind of two individuals; one who joined as a temp, and one who joined as an interim manager from another division of the business.
Both were exceptional and showed masses of talent. I am delighted to say that both flourished, but my issue is that it was circumstances that led them to roles where they could show their skills, rather than a proactive recruitment and training strategy.
For me, a major part of running a business is asking what you would do differently with hindsight. On reflection, I realised that our luck in recruitment should have been a positive and proactive strategy.
If I had my time again, I would embrace all levels of apprenticeships and put in place a more robust framework to ensure we nurtured and backed new and emerging talent.
Scotland is facing significant change. Yes, Brexit will have an impact. Questions around the constitutional future and Scotland’s place in the global market will have an impact. Yet the skills priorities will be the same regardless.
The skills required for the coming decades will be ever-changing and diverse. My view is that people will work in many jobs and for many organisations. Employers need to work with Skills Development Scotland to make the most of the skills system, but also commit to continuing investment in training, at all levels, to ensure a continuous skills development journey.
It’s only through this commitment that they will be able to enjoy the productivity and commercial results that will undoubtedly follow.
Apprenticeships should be the start of a life-long skills journey. Business needs to back the remarkable talent available in Scotland; both with apprenticeship opportunities, and with a programme of continuous skills development available throughout people’s careers.
We will be very proud to continue playing our part in support of this journey in any way we can.
Andrew Hammond is always happy to discuss apprenticeships, lifelong learning, and the many benefits of personal and professional development. Away from the office, you’ll either find him hiking up a mountain or skiing down the side of it.