Scottish Apprenticeship Awards
The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards showcase apprentices, employers and learning providers from across the country and a range of sectors.
The awards highlight the vital benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals, employers and the economy.
Award categories celebrate the incredible work of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices. They also recognise the exceptional organisations and individuals who champion and support apprenticeships.
Nominations for this year’s awards are now closed. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to nominate. We’ll reveal the winners during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which runs from 4 to 8 March 2024. If you have any questions, read our nomination entry rules or contact email@example.com.
Scotland's Apprentice of the Year
Agriculture, I&P Johnson
Shetlander Julie-Ann Murray went all out to get herself a Modern Apprenticeship job on a farm to fulfil her dream career in agriculture.
Determined Julie-Ann, 21, was desperate to stay on the island and work with animals so she persuaded a local sheep farmer to take her on as an apprentice.
She can now be left in charge of the farm, working, earning and learning though her apprenticeship.
Islander Julie-Ann heard about Modern Apprenticeships from her Skills Development Scotland careers adviser, who set her on the work-based learning pathway.
Julie-Ann, of North Roe, said: “Doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture means I do what I love every day, gain experience and a qualification and have a salary too.”
Last year's winners
Foundation Apprentice of the Year
A Foundation Apprenticeship gave Harley Higgins a foot in the door with his employer and engineered his future career.
Harley, 18, of Greenock, chose a Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering Systems at school to get on-the-job experience.
Harley says the experience has boosted his time management, teamwork and communication skills.
His work placement with energy supply specialist Aggreko in Dumbarton led to a Modern Apprenticeship job in Multi-skilled Engineering – ahead of 300 other candidates.
Harley, who studied at West College Scotland, said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available and gave my application the edge.”
Modern Apprentice of the Year SCQF Level 5
Agriculture, I&P Johnson
Julie-Ann Murray’s determination to work, learn and earn without leaving for the mainland bagged her a Modern Apprenticeship job.
The 21-year-old was desperate to stay on the island and get a career in agriculture.
So she persuaded a local sheep farmer to take her on as an apprentice, studying at UHI Shetland.
Julie-Ann Murray is now trusted to be in charge of 1,000 sheep and developed the skills that mean her employer has had her first holiday in five years.
She said: “I’ve changed a lot in my apprenticeship; it’s given me so much confidence.”
Modern Apprentice of the Year SCQF Level 6+
IT and Telecommunications, EGG Lighting
Bright spark Billy Wotherspoon’s passion for IT started at school – so a Modern Apprenticeship in this sector was a natural next step.
Billy, 19, used his technical knowledge and skills to help lighting firm EGG upgrade its network equipment and systems. This has benefited the company’s security and hybrid working. He did this while completing his diploma with Set Training and Resource Limited.
Billy, of Blairdardie, Glasgow, ordered and installed £12,000-worth of new kit, boosting the firm’s connection speed from 100Mb to 10Gb. He said: “The Modern Apprenticeship helped me hone my IT skills and communicate on a professional level.”
Graduate Apprentice of the Year
Engineering: Design and Manufacture, Plexus
Fatima Asif, 20, has helped her employer save £100,000 a year and wants to inspire other women to go into engineering.
Fatima works at Plexus while she studies for a Graduate Apprenticeship in Engineering: Design and Manufacture at Heriot-Watt University. She played a key role in delivering a new way to record improvement opportunities. This led to six-figure savings at the firm in Kelso, Borders.
Fatima, of Livingston, also mentors apprentices and helps champion women in business. She said: “The Graduate Apprenticeship has given me a real focus. I can see the path ahead of me and that has motivated me even more.”
Apprentice Ambassador of the Year
Social Services: Children and Young People, Bright Horizons Nursery
Declan Hoskins has channelled his passion for childcare and inspires other young people to follow the apprenticeship path.
Declan completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Social Services (Children and Young People) at Bright Horizons’ Treehouse Early Care & Education Centre in Aberdeen. He did his studies with Aberlour Childcare Trust.
He played a key role in supporting Foundation Apprentice school pupils during Covid. Two became Modern Apprentices at the nursery, based at Robert Gordon University Campus.
Declan, 22, said: “Being part of a team and having people who believe in me improved my confidence. I love to share my enthusiasm for the job with others and support them too.”
SME Employer of the Year
Multrees Investor Services Ltd
Multrees Investor Services' apprenticeship programme encourages talented individuals into financial services and supports them to shape their futures.
The growing financial services company based in Edinburgh became an apprentice employer in 2014. It has since hired 11 apprentices – that's 10% of the workforce.
A commitment to apprenticeships is integral to the firm’s talent-management programme.
Carole Lamond, Multrees Chief People Officer, said: “Our people managers recognise the value apprentices can bring. Those people go on to become advocates and mentors for the new apprentices joining the business.”
SME Employer of the Year – Promoting Diversity
The Scottish Crannog Centre
Apprenticeships play a key role in The Scottish Crannog Centre’s drive to tap into a diverse talent pool. This means the visitor attraction offers opportunities for young people who face different barriers to work.
The educational centre in Perthshire has widened opportunities for young people by working with local employability groups. They also take on apprentices in partnership with Perthshire Autism Society.
Managing Director Mike Benson said: “Apprenticeships are a central pillar to the way we work. Only by having a diverse workforce can we best connect to the diverse audiences outside our doors.”
Large Employer of the Year
McTaggart Group Ltd
McTaggart Group has been supporting apprentices for more than 20 years.
More than 80% of its apprentices have been supported to overcome barriers to employment. Dalry-based McTaggart believes construction can provide life-changing opportunities. Most sites are in places where educational attainment and progression into a positive destination beyond school is lower than the national average.
By offering Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship jobs as well as Foundation Apprenticeships for pupils, the company provides career routes outside traditional academic pathways.
Ross Hammell, McTaggart Construction Community Benefits Manager, said: “Apprenticeships provide McTaggart Group with a sustainable pipeline of new talent.”
Large Employer of the Year – Promoting Diversity
Bell Decorating Group Ltd
Bell Group, based in Airdrie, has supported more than 1,000 apprentices since the business began. The company provides opportunities to people from disadvantaged and under-represented groups.
The family-owned painting and building maintenance contractor has employed apprentices – mainly in painting and decorating – since 1984. The firm is also offering apprenticeships to Ukrainian refugees.
Julie Lawrenson, Bell Group’s Head of Learning & Organisational Development, said: “We are currently working on a project in Scotland in collaboration with a number of key partners by opening doors to promote the construction sector and apprenticeship vacancies to refugees.”
Apprentice Instructor of the Year
Will Smith has revitalised Persimmon’s apprenticeship programme in Scotland, supporting and mentoring all of Persimmon’s Modern Apprentices across the country.
During his 35-year career in the construction sector Will has supported more than 3,500 apprentices, previously working at the Construction Industry Training Board for over 30 years. A focus on supporting the health and wellbeing of apprentices has helped reduce sickness absence by 80%.
Alan Prickett, Regional Construction Director for Persimmon Homes, said: “Will has been central to ensuring apprenticeships are now at the heart of Persimmon’s activity in Scotland.”
Supporting Net Zero Employer of the Year
Muir of Ord
Apprentices are key to Ri Cruden achieving its goal of turning the Highlands into Scotland’s green energy hub.
The renewable technologies business' apprenticeship programme has helped to mould the next generation of workers. It has also helped overcome the challenge of finding skilled workers in the local area.
Apprentices make up a quarter of the workforce and are involved in renewables projects in estimating or installation teams. This means they all contribute towards the environmental benefits achieved.
Director Callum Cruden, a former apprentice himself, said: “A number of our apprentices have gone on to enjoy long, successful careers with us.”
Supporting Net Zero Apprentice of the Year
Engineering Maintenance (Electrical), Forth Ports
Engineering Modern Apprentice Hope Ralston is helping her employer go green in a mission to cut emissions and save energy.
Hope was the first female engineering apprentice at Forth Ports, in Grangemouth, studying at Forth Valley College.
The 22-year-old from Falkirk made a significant contribution to a project that will cut Forth Port’s CO2 emissions and bring net energy savings of 10%. She also took part in the Fuel Change Challenge to improve her understanding of the energy sources her industry may use in the future.
Hope said: “Sustainability is now very much built into my thinking in my everyday work.”