Building the Foundation for a Successful STEM Career

February 2020

Starting life as the Outstanding Graduate Scheme Award, the Outstanding Skills Development Award quickly evolved to take account of all types of training that are essential to building the skill sets of future generations.

Graduate schemes, apprenticeships, skills conversion programmes, upskilling and/or reskilling initiatives, specialist internal training programmes and school engagement activities – they’re all included in this category.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has sponsored the category for the past couple of years and it is fantastic to have them on board again for 2020.

One thing that SDS is particularly proud of is its promotion of Foundation Apprenticeships which gives young people their first steps in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related career path.

Offered to S5 and S6 academy pupils, a Foundation Apprenticeship can be taken up as one of the pupil’s subject choices. It provides a Higher equivalent qualification and is accepted by all Scottish Universities and Colleges. From there, pupils can follow this up and embark on a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship if they wish. 

Skills Development Scotland provides more than 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities each year across Scotland.

SDS Chair, Frank Mitchell, believes work-based learning and apprenticeships are vital for Scotland’s future prosperity.

He said: “At a time of unprecedented change in the economy, apprenticeships offer employers in Scotland a unique opportunity to invest in and secure the skills their business needs for the future.

“Meeting Scottish Government’s ambitions to offer 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities over the next year means more chances than ever before for pupils to benefit from work-based learning.

“SDS is committed to working with local and national partners in education, skills and industry to ensure that young people have access to and benefit from these opportunities.”

With this commitment comes the results – a massive 94% of those who have taken a Foundation Apprenticeship reported improved communication, 90% gained more confidence and 87% reported improved team-working skills.

By gaining these valuable skills, we can’t wait to see where these apprentices will go in their future career and we hope to see them as finalists at the OAAs in future years.

To register your interest in September’s Energy Apprenticeship event, e-mail Jenny MacDonald, SDS’s Sector Development and Skills Planning Manager (Oil & Gas).

If you’d like to know more about Foundation Apprenticeships, visit

Interested in finding out more about the Aberdeen section, or would you like to get involved, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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SPE Aberdeen Section

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