Across Scotland, innovative Modern Apprenticeship programmes are enabling young people – and the employers and training providers who support them – to continue their training and development despite the challenges the pandemic continues to present.

Melrose-based training provider SDConsultancy is using an online e-portfolio approach that allows apprentices to progress with their SQA qualifications and assessments – key components of the Modern Apprenticeship programme.

Director Sarah Dalrymple says that in the current climate, apprenticeships are more important than ever.

She adds: “We believe that Modern Apprentices need to be at the heart of economic recovery. We have the most amazing opportunity to work with employers and candidates just now, to really bring the value of adapted training and development into focus. 

“With the adaptations to remote observations using digital platforms, we were able to efficiently proceed with our ‘new’ form of delivery.”

This approach has allowed the Modern Apprentices undertaking Management, and Digital Marketing programmes to continue their training during lockdown. In video calls with Sarah Dalrymple, the apprentices discuss the practical aspects of their courses, which they will undertake when they are able to return to work.

Collaboration with employers and training providers is not just at the heart of the Modern Apprenticeship programme but is also fundamental to Scotland’s Foundation Apprenticeships. A new Foundation Apprenticeship programme has recently been launched by SQA and Skills Development Scotland (SDS). 

Around 30 schools, colleges, and training providers across Scotland are involved in the initial pilot, which will see pupils in S3 to S6 work towards new SQA qualifications at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Levels 4 and 5.

The pupils will also complete a work-based challenge unit by partnering with a local employer to design, develop, and deliver a project.

Fife College is offering the new qualifications and Assistant Principal Iain Hawker says that over 100 local young people are set to benefit from the programme this year.

Hawker adds: “The Foundation Apprenticeship is a brilliant way for pupils to develop technical and meta skills as part of their school timetable. Achieving the qualifications and engaging with employers at an early stage in their learning will mean that whatever they choose to do after school, the transition will be easier for them.”

Not only tasked with supporting young people working across the country, SQA has committed to further developing its own workforce and recently recruited six school leavers to join its own Modern Apprenticeship programme.

Sarah Anne Rooney, SQA Employee Development Programme Manager, says that it is important that SQA continues to offer apprenticeship training opportunities.

She adds: “Our Modern Apprenticeship programme helps young people develop transferable skills in an interesting and supportive environment. They also gain a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Business and Administration, which demonstrates to future employers that their skills meet a national standard.” As an employer offering work-based qualifications, SQA recognises the importance of supporting businesses and training providers to deliver them safely. SQA is working with sector bodies to minimise the impact of the pandemic on candidates’ learning and SQA Regional Managers are in regular contact with training providers. 

Information on how SQA is supporting the delivery of vocational qualifications can be found at 
For more information on the new Foundation Apprenticeships pilot, please contact 
Information on SQA qualifications that underpin Modern Apprenticeships, Foundation Apprenticeships, and Graduate Apprenticeships, can be found at