More modern apprenticeships for the Borders

THE Scottish Borders has seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of modern apprenticeships during the last year.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 7th October 2010, 5:22 pm

Figures just published show the number of so-called Modern Apprentices in Scottish Borders Council's area climbed from 174 to 244 between 2008/9 and 2009/10, eight per cent higher than during the previous Scottish Government's last year in power.

South of Scotland list MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) commented: "At a time when jobs are being lost across all sections of the Scottish economy thanks to Labour's financial mismanagement, the SNP has demonstrated it will not be deflected from its commitment to provide opportunities for youngsters entering the jobs market.

"These are very positive statistics considering the fragile state of our national economy as it tries to pull out of recession."

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But the rise in modern apprenticeships in the region is not reflected within Scottish Borders Council, the largest employer in the area, and they are working on offering more employment opportunities after a review found that the local authority offered a lack of apprenticeships and 'on the job' training.

And at a recent meeting of the council's executive, members discussed and approved the recommendations of the Scrutiny Review of Work Based Vocational Opportunities in the region which took issue with the fact that in January there were only 27 such posts in place at SBC.

The review found that last year there were 117 school leavers in the Borders reported as unemployed seeking employment, with the highest number (11) living in Selkirk. There were seven reported in Eyemouth; six in west Berwickshire and five in east Berwickshire.

Pupils who were eligible to leave school in summer 2010 were asked by Skills Direct Scotland what their intended destination was. A total of 1415 said they would return to school and of the 1101 expected school leavers, up from 1041 in 2008/9, the majority (561) said they would go onto higher education; 421 on to further education; 59 into employment and 35 into modern apprenticeships.

The overriding key issue identified by the working group when it came to school leavers was the need to have good public transportation for youngsters.

Members shared the view that an affordable, reliable and convenient public transportation network was needed to allow everyone, young people, in pat year.

The working group found that the council employs 7.7 per cent fewer 'people aged 24 and under' compared to the Borders population base, and the council's education and lifelong learning department has the highest number of employees in this age bracket.

There were several areas within the council currently working to improve vocational training and training opportunities including the employability co-ordinator in planning and econmomic development; the vocational training team including the Borders Production Unit in community learning and development within the education and lifelong learning department and vocational educational programmes in the region's high schools.

The working group made a number of recommendations to the council in their review, a key one being that two elected members join the strategic employability group, currently known as the Borders Employability Partnership.

Councillors also approved a recommendation to appoint a co-ordinator for trainee/modern apprentice and work experience opportunities with human resources.

Other recommendations proposed by the working group and given the go ahead bythe council's executive, included the council's flexible working policy being applied across all departments and locations and the development of policy, practices and programmes for 'Employability and Workforce Planning', with special emphasis on the under 25 age groupt year.