May I congratulate your magazine for focusing on, over the past few issues, the immensely important topic of vocational training.
However, I read the article “Time For Change” (29 October, page 49) with some disappointment as, despite setting out the position in terms of plans for updating training within the construction industry, it failed to address the Scottish position.
Here in Scotland we currently operate schemes whereby S3 and S4 students participate in construction training through their local colleges. These courses are linked to local employers and, when the participating pupils leave school, there is a full apprenticeship awaiting them with the local employer.
We are also in the process of piloting the Scottish Progression Award Qualification, which can be tweaked to suit most non-apprentice new-entrant training in any construction discipline, with the view to rolling it out to all Scottish secondary schools.
Furthermore, Scotland has had an adult apprenticeship scheme since 1988, which we expanded in 2003 to cover all crafts and is for apprentices over the age of 22.
The continuing demands for more and more skilled craftsmen has meant that the Scottish Building Apprenticeship & Training Council, of which I am also the registrar, has had its busiest years yet. Figures showed that in 2003 a record number of apprentices came through the ranks with a total of 2089 registered. This figure is going to be matched, if not exceeded, this year.
However, apprenticeships do still need a boost. Yes, we register more apprentices year on year, which is a very positive position given the fact that we insist on employment from day one of the apprenticeship, but we still need to make everyone more aware of the options available, the success stories and the career prospects of a construction apprentice.
Alyson Morrow, head of human resources, SBATC