Celebrating Scottish Apprenticeship Week

It’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week and UHI West Highland, UHI Outer Hebrides and UHI North Highland are celebrating our talented modern apprentices and partnership working with local employers.

Collectively, our three colleges deliver training to more than 280 modern apprentices, with expertise in areas including aquaculture, gamekeeping, engineering, health and social care, and hospitality.

UHI West Highland, UHI North Highland and UHI Outer Hebrides and will merge in August 2023 to form UHI North, West and Hebrides, pending Scottish Government approval. Together, they have ambitions to grow their work-based learning and apprenticeship numbers.

With 9000 students, 600 staff and 19 learning centres and campuses across the North and West Highlands, Skye, and Outer Hebrides, UHI North, West and Hebrides will become one of the largest partners in UHI, covering 70% of Scotland’s coastline and an area nearly the size of Wales.

UHI North, West and Hebrides will have a key role to play in supporting the UHI partnership and its growing apprenticeship offer across the region, which has made it one of the largest collective providers of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship in Scotland.

Lydia Rohmer, Principal Designate of UHI North, West and Hebrides, said:

“By coming together, we will have the combined expertise, capacity, and resource to deliver a much wider range of apprenticeship frameworks across the North and West Highlands, Skye, and Outer Hebrides, which, up until now, might not have been viable to deliver as individual colleges. This gives us the potential to expand delivery of the likes of aquaculture, gamekeeping and engineering. We’re particularly keen to work with local employers to see how we can make apprenticeship delivery more sustainable through more work-based and localised training, digital technology, and reduced travel for apprentices.”

Scottish Apprenticeship Week shines a light on the vital role apprenticeships play in supporting people, employers, and the economy. Apprenticeship frameworks are a set of industry qualifications, designed to provide the skills and knowledge required to undertake a job role. Apprentices work, earn and learn at the same time.

UHI West Highland and UHI North Highland also deliver Foundation Apprenticeships, with around 55 pupils last year studying subjects which included health and social care, business, creative and digital media, and IT, across all 29 Highland Council secondary schools. Foundation Apprenticeships work slightly differently to Modern Apprenticeships and are available to senior phase pupils to gain a qualification and important work experience while at school. 

Two of our marvellous Modern Apprentices:

Kiah Ferreira is now a Customer Services Assistant with Lochaber Housing Association Limited:

“I started my Business Admin Modern Apprenticeship with Lochaber Housing Association in 2021 as a Customer Services Assistant. I had not long left school during the pandemic and didn’t really know what direction I wanted to take my career. This apprenticeship has been a great way for me to gain some working experience, get another qualification and earn some money at the same time.

I knew nothing about working in an office when I started but I was keen to learn, and my colleagues took the time to show me how things are done and have supported me throughout my apprenticeship. This has allowed me to gain so much valuable experience to help me with my career further down the line.

My assessor has supported me throughout my apprenticeship with regards to my portfolio and has allowed me to develop a good work ethic with balancing deadlines. Having this support from my assessor and colleagues has allowed me to not only grow my knowledge and skills but also has helped me grow my confidence in my work and myself.

During my apprenticeship, a position became available within the organisation which I applied for, and I now have a permanent position as a Customer Services Assistant.”

Sarah MacDonald is now a fish farm Manager at Mowi:

Sarah joined Mowi as a fish farm technician in 2019. Mowi encouraged her to become a Modern Apprentice and she has now completed SVQ Aquaculture level 2. Sarah is now Manager of the Mowi fish farm at Scalpay, Isle of Skye.

“I believe that, in this job, you get out what you put in and I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of some great colleagues along the way. Through my work with Mowi, I moved from Uist to Skye which really pushed me and prepared me for the role of Assistant Manager at Scalpay. My manager at Scalpay was very proactive in getting the assessor from UHI West Highland out so that I could complete my SVQ. He also took the time to show me the ropes on site management and the administrative side of farming.

It is a big jump from Assistant Manager to Manager but I made it and it’s been so rewarding, especially when you see big, healthy salmon at the end of the cycle.”