Published 07 March 2019
West Dunbartonshire Council is celebrating Scottish Apprenticeship Week after a £1million investment to encourage more young people than ever to benefit from the scheme.
The event – which runs between March 4 and March 8 – is organised each year to highlight the benefits apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy.
The Council announced last March that it was creating the fund to support apprenticeships over the next four years.
It has seen £250,000 spent in 2018/19 with a further £250,000 committed for the coming three years to recruit apprentices across a range of Council services, with school leavers a particular focus.
Run by the Council’s Working4U service, the initiative helped 79 people into apprenticeships in 2017/18 – far exceeding expected targets.
In August last year, the Council welcomed 24 new starts in services including Greenspace, Business Administration and Construction Craft.
Many Council apprentices go on to secure permanent posts on completion of their apprenticeship.
Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “We are committed to building a strong local economy, while improving job opportunities for local people.
“The young people that come in as apprentices are the future of the Council and our investment shows how highly we value their work.
“Hearing what some of our current and past apprentices have achieved is wonderful, and seeing them thriving in careers they love and feel they have a future in is even better.”
Councillor Caroline McAllister, Vice Convener of Housing and Communities, added: “Celebrating Scottish Apprenticeship Week is important not only to show our apprentices how important their role is, but also to draw young peoples’ attention to the different pathways they have available to them.
“Apprenticeships allow young people to gain valuable work experience while achieving qualifications and a salary, so it’s a great opportunity.
“I’d encourage anybody considering applying to get in touch with Working4U for more information.”
Jess Lewins, 25, left her job in a nursery to follow her dream of becoming a painter and decorator through the scheme.
Now in her second year of her Modern Apprenticeship, she said: “Applying for the apprenticeship is the best decision I’ve made. Painting and Decorating is something I’ve always wanted to do, and this way means I’ve learned on the job while also earning a wage. I’ve learned so much since I started and developed so much confidence by working with colleagues who have years of experience.
“If anybody is thinking of applying, I would highly recommend it. I haven’t looked back.”
Nicole Gill, 21, has secured a permanent role at the Council after completing an administration apprenticeship.
She said: “The Modern Apprenticeship developed my skills as I was learning on the job. By shadowing my colleagues I was able to expand my skillset really quickly.
“Now I’m in a permanent position and love my job. I have so many opportunities to help further my career. I know that if I hadn’t successfully worked through both of my apprenticeships I would not be where I am today with my career.”
Stacey McGowan, 21, is a modern apprentice in the Greenspace team, working in Levengrove Park.
She said: “Taking on this apprenticeship has helped me so much. On a personal level, I am more confident and can interact with others more easily, and on a professional level I am gaining a qualification in horticulture. Aside from that I am learning how to use hand tools and power tools, and I understand how to transplant trees and shrubs, grow things from seed and pruning.”
For more information about apprenticeships, please visit: www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/jobs-and-training/working4u/work/modern-apprenticeships-training-programme/