Fife companies which have enrolled for Graduate Apprenticeships are urging others in the county not to miss the July 31 deadline to apply for their own.
Developed by Skills Development Scotland, with support from the European Social Fund, Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs) are a new type of degree combining work-based learning and high-quality education. Businesses can hire a new member of staff as a GA or sponsor an existing employee.
Current staff can be anyone as relevant work experience and desire to learn outweighs formal education, so non-technical employees can move into a new area of work such as management or IT. It’s also an opportunity to bring new knowledge and skills into your business and attract new talent as an alternative to traditional graduate schemes.
Graduate Apprenticeships benefit employers in many ways – staff put their learning into action on work-based projects and the training improves their ability, engagement and productivity. GAs also help companies future-proof their technical talent pipelines - IT and engineering professionals are in high demand and apprentices become loyal, long term employees fulfilling the needs of your recruitment and staff development strategy.
Upskilling existing employees not only improves their personal development but the firm benefits from their higher productivity and expertise and improves its retention of talent. Senior staff also get to develop their CPD in mentoring skills.
Graduate Apprenticeships are fully-funded – the only cost to companies is the employee’s salary – and the employee is only at the university one day a week. The GA Programme has already established a 100% track record on student retention in its first year - with no dropouts and no failures.
Scot Kelly, Managing Director at Foodmek in Tayport, is mentoring Design Engineer Martin Spink through a Graduate Apprenticeship in Engineering, Design and Manufacture at the University of Dundee starting at Year 2 from next term.
Scot explains: “My goal is to develop the organisation via Modern Apprenticeships and Graduate Apprenticeships to create a career path to Masters and Chartered Engineer levels in order to attract and retain the best staff and move the company forward.
“Through the GA Martin will have a wider appreciation of innovation and the latest technology to help him develop new solutions for our customers.”
“I chose the University of Dundee for the GA because I already had a positive experience of the university through an internship by an MSc Industrial Engineering student and 3rd Year student projects and was impressed by how the university makes the GA relevant to SMEs, which is important to us.
“If this is successful, we’ll support more staff to take Graduate Apprenticeships at the University of Dundee.”
Lisa Cathro, owner of St Andrews café & takeaway social enterprise Zest, has applied to do a Graduate Apprenticeship in Business Management at the University of Dundee so she can formalise the business knowledge she’s picked up in the 10 years since it opened and support her staff’s learning better. She’s being supported by her mentor Ian Hunt from Training Solutions.
Lisa says: “I found out about Graduate Apprenticeships after getting involved with the SDS Skills for Growth initiative - I was looking for ways to develop not only myself but also my team.
“I knew nothing about running a business when we first started. My passion is people development, primarily by working with those with barriers to employment, but latterly I’ve enjoyed doing consultancy helping startups avoid the mistakes I made.
“I decided to do a GA in Business Management to further my consultancy but also to increase my skills, including social media - allowing me to cascade knowledge to my team and their development. I have a lot of experience in strategy and business planning but not the theory behind it.
“I’ve mentored 10 Modern Apprentices through my own business. By participating at this higher level myself it will allow me to better support my own team in the future should they want to continue on to a degree-level qualification.”
DPS Group in Glenrothes firm has enrolled Project Director Paul Guppy for a Graduate Apprenticeship in Business Management at the University of Dundee starting next term. He’s being supported by his mentor, Group Director Colin Burnett.
“This is the first year of DPS Group considering GAs and we currently have one Business Management GA as an introduction to the scheme,” explains Colin. ”Paul has been with the business for almost 13 years, starting as a services engineer before moving through to management later on.
“The Graduate Apprenticeship scheme offered through Dundee University ensures the DPS Group continues to develop, nurture and grow a more qualified workforce aligned to our future strategy. By educating staff to the highest level we can guarantee having high-quality engineers for the future, allowing continued involvement in complex processing plants.”
Pauline Brown, Service Operations Manager in IT Services at the University of St Andrews is also an advocate of Graduate Apprenticeships. She’s mentoring IT Service Desk Analyst Greg Jennings through a GA in IT: Management for Business starting in September.
Pauline explains: “Since 2012 we’ve taken on Modern Apprentices on two-year contracts and it’s been hugely successful. We believe in investing and developing our talent, so this is a natural progression for us.
“Greg joined us straight from secondary school as an MA. We were delighted to be able to offer him a permanent role at the end of his apprenticeship contract in 2017.
“Greg’s always been keen to get a university degree, so this route makes sense for him as he’s only away from work one day per week and lives close by. We’re delighted to be able to facilitate and support him through this.
“Greg completed his SCQF Level 8 when he was an IT Apprentice with us, meaning he already has some of the appropriate qualifications and experience, so will start at Year 2.
“We chose the University of Dundee GA after going to a presentation and being impressed by what was on offer.”
The University of Dundee offers Graduate Apprenticeships in IT Management for Business, Software Development, Engineering Design and Manufacture, Civil Engineering and Business Management. The deadline to apply for them is July 31.