Ms Sturgeon met with the 19-strong cohort of first year Modern Apprentices, covering areas such as welding and fabrication, instrumentation, power distribution and mechanical engineering. Forth Valley College (FVC) now boasts a total of 30 female Engineering MAs currently learning their trade at the Falkirk Campus and moves are also underway for FVC to develop a nationwide contact network for women apprentices in the engineering sector.
Among the apprentices on hand to show the First Minister around Forth Valley College’s state-of-the-art Falkirk Campus were four ECITB-sponsored engineering apprentices. The young women are part of a prestigious ECITB-backed Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP). The ECITB, as statutory skills body for the engineering construction industry, sponsors the training of OGTAP apprentices on behalf of various partner companies.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, said: “Creating this network of apprentices who can share their experiences with others will help inspire the next generation.
“We know that work-based learning delivers for individuals, employers and the Scottish economy. Through the network, apprentices are going to have the chance to inspire young people to follow their example and become the apprentices of tomorrow.
“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to launch the network at Forth Valley College, and to see first-hand the excellent work being done to encourage more young women to consider careers in fields such as engineering.”
Dr Ken Thomson, Principal of Forth Valley College, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the First Minister to our Falkirk Campus on Monday to help us celebrate the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2019. We are fully behind the First Minister’s launch of the Scotland’s Apprentice Network and feel this is a very positive initiative in terms of promoting apprenticeships to young people across Scotland.
“Our event also kicked off discussions around our own network for female engineers, something we are hoping to develop in partnership with industry in order to champion the achievements of female engineers and highlight opportunities available. We currently have our largest ever intake of women in this sector and during the visit we were able to introduce the First Minister to our 19 first year female MAs, in addition to some former students. We are very proud of our high number of female engineers and we know that encouraging women into STEM subjects is also something very close to the First Minister’s heart. I am sure her visit will have inspired these students even more and also encourage more young women into engineering and other STEM subjects.”
Director of National Training Programmes at Skills Development Scotland, Katie Hutton, said: “We know that the best people to showcase the benefits of apprenticeships are successful apprentices. Through the network, apprentices will have a unique opportunity to talk directly to school pupils who are making their career choices and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.”
Chris Claydon, Chief Executive of the ECITB, said: “Attracting more young women into engineering is crucial if we are to address the growing skills shortages facing the industry in Scotland and across the UK.
“Modern apprenticeships are a fantastic route into engineering and we’re delighted to be supporting these four young apprentices on the OGTAP programme at Forth Valley College. They are turning traditional stereotypes on their head by showing that engineering is an attractive and rewarding career path for talented and ambitious young women.”