The 17-year-old from Springboig in Glasgow was planning to leave school at the end of fifth year and didn’t know what she wanted to do for a living.
Then, her mum told her about opportunities through Foundation Apprenticeships.
The St. Andrew’s RC Secondary pupil chose to take a Foundation Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering in fifth year, alongside other school subjects.
Foundation Apprenticeships give senior school pupils the chance to spend time out of the classroom with a learning provider and gain experience in a work environment.
Completion leads to a qualification at the same level as a Higher, to progress into work including Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships as well as being recognised for entry into colleges and universities across Scotland.
Sophia explained: “I had no real plan about what I wanted to do and thought I could maybe go to college and take up an art course.
“My mum told me about Foundation Apprenticeships and thought it would be worth doing because I would get work experience with a qualification and be able to stay in school until sixth year.”
Sophia took the Foundation Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering at Glasgow Kelvin College alongside her other school subjects.
In the first year, Sophia went to college two half days a week. “My first year at college was really good” said Sophia. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there were also two other girls doing the Foundation Apprenticeship, so I felt more comfortable. The learning eased us in well because we weren’t bombarded with a lot of information.”
Now Sophia’s out of school one day a week getting her hands dirty, working on building sites with social housing developer, McTaggart Construction.
“At the moment I get to watch and learn,” said Sophia. “I’m looking forward to learn on the job and get hands on experience.”
Doing the Foundation Apprenticeship has opened her eyes up to different aspects of engineering Sophia didn’t know about, which has now given her a clear idea of what career she wants to pursue.
Sophia said: “I got to find out more about the career choices in Civil Engineering through the Foundation Apprenticeship and I thought they were fascinating.
“There is an opportunity to work in areas like flood protection and environmental protection, which really appeals to me because they are dealing with important issues.”
Ross Hammell, Sustainable Communities Programme Manager at McTaggart Construction:
“McTaggart Construction sees FA’s as a key element of our talent pipeline mix, alongside other traditional academic and vocational routes. The construction industry needs many more confident, hardworking young people across all disciplines to address the current skills shortage we face. The world of work can be a shock to a lot of school leavers, therefore FA’s offer the opportunity to gain a true understanding of a potential career path before they’ve even left school.”
“Since starting her FA with McTaggart Construction, Sophia has gained a lot of confidence which has enabled her to ask more questions and get more from her time on site, applying academic learning.”
Taking the Foundation Apprenticeship has changed Sophia’s opinion of school.
She explained: “Taking the Foundation Apprenticeship has given me something to look forward to and I’m excited to learn what the career would be like.
“Getting the experience of college and the workplace with my Foundation Apprenticeship has made me happier and more confident.”
Peter Brown, Senior Curriculum Manager from Glasgow Kelvin College said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship programme provides a range of benefits to our learners, chief among these being the opportunity to undertake a long-term work placement with an employer.
“During this time learners are given an invaluable insight into the world of work and a hands-on experience which inspires and shapes their future career paths whilst also preparing and equipping them with skills that are valued by industry.
“Furthermore, the Foundation Apprenticeship offers them the opportunity to learn in a programme and environment that has been solely designed with employment in mind. Subjects they are currently studying at school e.g. Maths, Physics or IT are given real-world value through contextualisation and simulation of industry. As a result, many learners better engage at school as abstract concepts now have real meaning and importance to their future career aspirations.”
Foundation Apprenticeships are developed by Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with employers and funded by European Social Fund.