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SQA apprentices awarded with special recognition at national awards for community project

A project that saw apprentices from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) provide work experience for adults with learning disabilities has recognised for their efforts with a special recognition award at the Scottish Apprenticeship Week (SAW) Apprenticeship Challenge.

Along with fellow finalists SAS International, based in Ayrshire, the team presented their project on Friday afternoon to invited guests and a panel of judges at the Scottish Power HQ. 

The competition, hosted by Skills Development Scotland, challenged winning regional teams of apprentices from across the country to plan, coordinate and execute projects using the skills they have developed through their apprenticeships.

SQA’s project provides work experience specifically tailored to the requirements of adults with complex learning disabilities – an initiative which saw the team crowned as winners of the regional 2019 Glasgow Apprenticeship Challenge hosted by Developing the Young Workforce Glasgow in November last year.

The winning modern apprentice team included Lindsey Burke, Lauren Graham and Eve Cunningham, who designed and delivered their voluntary project named ‘Work Experience for All’.

The SQA team partnered with Cherry Road Learning Centre, which provides a day service for adults with complex, profound or multiple learning disabilities, and offers a range of activities, experiences and opportunities. 

The team built a close working relationship with service user Craig Pentland, who was offered the opportunity to complete work experience at SQA’s office.

The apprentices visited the centre over four days each week during a five-week period, completing activities, eating meals and spending social time with Craig, allowing him to build his confidence and skills before completing his work experience for one day per week over a further five weeks.

During his placement, Craig completed work in the SQA office with a range of teams including HR and Facilities.

The Apprenticeship Challenge is an annual event which aims to demonstrate the quality of apprentices employed across Scotland, along with the high level of training offered by businesses and organisations throughout the country.

Apprentice Lauren Graham said: “Working with Craig has given me an amazing opportunity to build my own confidence – I know now that I can approach new situations without worrying about them. It’s definitely going to help me with the remainder of my apprenticeship.”

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive, said, “Our Modern Apprentices fully embraced the challenge and it is fantastic that this has been recognised today. Their time at Cherry Road Learning Centre gave them a unique opportunity to own a project and challenge themselves whilst making a much-appreciated contribution to their local community.

“As an employer we have seen their confidence and skillset grow through doing the Scottish Apprenticeship Challenge. Everyone at SQA is really proud of our winning team.”

Alison McRae, senior director at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great to see this level of recognition and a huge congratulations to the apprentices from SQA, who have demonstrated their skills with this fantastic project which has helped to strengthen links between the organisation and local community groups.

“All the apprentices who have taken part in this year’s challenge have demonstrated and utilised the skills they have developed through their apprenticeships across a range of diverse projects.

“It is another great example of how apprenticeships can enrich Scotland’s workforce, and are beneficial to employers, communities and young people alike.”

DYW is the Scottish Government’s national strategy for strengthening links between schools and businesses. It aims to better prepare children and young adults for the world of work, with a target aim of reducing youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.

If you would like to find out about opportunities available to you, get in touch with the DYW team: