As part of Developing the Young Workforce in Scotland Foundation Apprenticeships are rolling out across Scotland following a pilot phase , these will create many more opportunities for young people in Schools to engage directly with employers and colleges.
From August 2016 these new qualifications "Foundation Apprenticeships" will be available in the following subjects and will be available in more schools in more parts of the country.
If you work in Education you will see a dignified scramble to get these programmes up and running and learners recruited over the next month or so and Foundation Apprenticeships will increasingly figure in the subject choices available in many schools from this year onward.
These courses will be the bridge between school , college and the workplace that really change the relationship between schools, colleges and employers.
What are the benefits ?
The programmes involve a not inconsiderable time either in College or in the workplace. This dependent on programme but could be 2 days per week. So this is not a taster it is the real thing.
The programmes are designed to both have a knowledge component and a component too of the Vocational workbased delivered qualification that makes up part of the full modern apprenticeship. If positioned well this will give young people a real head start into a career if they want this, or at least an in-depth work experience combined with workplace recognised qualifications that they can use to gain casual labour and/or use as part of their College or UCAS application.
What are the challenges :
They will only work for the learners if schools , colleges and employers work closely together. You can see they may need a customer relationship management system if they do not already have one.
This is changing the relationship between schools and colleges ; a foundation apprenticeship is not a taster session of the College experience for those with low national qualification grades as many previous school/college programmes have been in the past.
The programmes last two years 4th and 5th or more likely 5th and 6th year, given the academic demand of the Foundation Apprenticeships (SCQF6), the same as a higher - the target group of pupils is a different cohort from those who may have traditionally attended College within a school college partnership arrangement. For some Colleges this will involve linking with schools that have not traditonally sent learners to College and/or working with a new cohort of teachers and learners within schools they have worked with in the past.
The 'Foundation' is in many frameworks the core components of the full apprenticeship and this could be hard to explain to teachers and to learners and their parents.
There will be some learners who will wish to take the 'Foundation' but perhaps do not have the necessary National passes to secure a place and may be disappointed not to secure a place on the Foundation programme.
The progression routes between HNC/D are well chartered, if not always fully recognised by all universities in Scotland, the routes from SVQ into HND and Degree are less well mapped out and the system needs to improve recognition of SCQF credit and level here.
Its the right thing to be doing - but it will be a challenging one for many in the system. Schools will need to be prepared to support learners continuing with nationals, higher and advanced highers while allowing learners time to complete their foundation apprenticeships. Colleges will use their networks to find the employers where the work-based learning component will take place and co-ordinate the reporting of the learners progress - to schools and to parents.
Young people will enjoy the challenges and opportunities these programmes will bring and the range of progression routes.
Progression for some will be to complete their apprenticeship , for others it might be HNC/D at a College and for others who have completed a Foundation Apprenticeship along with the necessary highers their aim will be University.
So before I get asked - what is a Foundation Apprenticeship ? here is part of the answer.
Acid test, is that if I had someone who the school was keen to get to re-sit a couple of nationals in 5th year ( but not English or Maths ) and who had an interest in one of the areas above - then a Foundation Apprenticeship would be a good option.