Scottish Finance Minister Kate Forbes visited the offices of a global consulting and tech giant on Monday – to mark the first day of Scottish Apprenticeship Week. Ms Forbes visited Capgemini in Inverness to help launch the annual skills-focused event, meeting the newest group of eight cyber security Graduate Apprentices who started with the firm four months ago. Following the meeting and guided tour of Capgemini’s ultra-secure cyber defence room and offices, Ms Forbes said: “I was delighted to celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week with the team at Capgemini, one of thousands of businesses in Scotland recognising the value of work-based learning. “There are more than 13,000 career opportunities available in the digital sector each year, and apprenticeships are an incredible way to gain the skills needed for a career in the digital sector. Employees get started on a great career path, and employers build and grow their talent pipeline, benefiting both businesses and young people.” Capgemini has been committed to employing apprentices since they set up in Inverness back in 2012. More than 220 apprentices have been trained by the security consultants to date, and they currently have 24 cyber security apprenticeships on their books right now: 16 Modern Apprentices and the eight Graduate Apprentices. Darren Robbins, Senior Security Consultant with Capgemini, said: “As businesses face constantly evolving threats, cyber security continues to be a hugely dynamic field to build a career in – particularly when you consider the current cyber-skills shortage. “We continue to evolve our highly successful apprenticeship programme to keep pace with the changing business landscape. The Cyber Modern Apprenticeships that we created with The University of Highlands and Islands and our new four-year programme with The Open University are great examples of this. “Our apprenticeship programme in the Highlands aims to provide our apprentices with the broad range of digital skills and certifications to support business needs and inspire them to continue a career in IT. We see massive value in our apprenticeships programme and are confident in its ongoing success in the coming years. “ Scottish Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated every year by Skills Development Scotland (SDS). This year’s theme is Talent Without Limits to celebrate the diversity that makes work-based learning good for individuals, employers and the economy. Claire Gillespie, Digital Technology sector manager for SDS, said: “I might be biased when I say this, but I think the technology sector more than any other could benefit from embracing the opportunities offered by apprenticeships. “We have 12 digital apprenticeship frameworks developed with, and designed for the technology sector. Capgemini are a perfect example of how a tech company can use apprenticeships to grow their business and their talent pool. I would recommend other technology firms follow their lead.” The latest Graduate Apprentices at Capgemini will study online through The Open University as they work towards their BSc Hons Cyber Security. The programme is fully funded by SDS and supported by the European Social Fund. Suzanne McQuade, business relationships manager at The Open University, added: “We’re proud to work with Capgemini to support the continued progression of their cyber security team through our apprenticeship provision. Graduate Apprenticeships allow employers like Capgemini to upskill their workforce and attract and retain talent. That’s especially important in the Highlands and Islands.”