Young apprentices meet MSP as part of site visit

""Young people signed up to apprenticeships with a leading construction firm have been given the chance to speak about their experiences of working in the industry.

The trainees were all present for the visit of Annabelle Ewing, Scotland’s Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment, to the site of a new care home being built by Graham Construction.

During the event, which was held as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Ms Ewing was able to meet young men and women learning new construction skills on the job.

She said she was especially keen to speak to the female apprentices about how to encourage even more women to take on roles in the building sector.

Graham Construction is part of an industry group known as the 5 Per Cent Club, which encourages firms to set up their own structured learning programmes such as apprenticeships.

The group’s objective is for its members to put 5% of their workforce on such schemes over the next five years.

To help young people get the best start possible in construction, Graham has also set up its own skills academy, which currently has more than 100 young students.

Some 14% of Graham’s current staff are signed up to structured learning initiatives, with 9% on apprenticeships.

Ms Ewing said: “Construction is hugely important to our economy and we are working closely with industry and other partners to look at how we ensure it has the staff it needs to continue to grow.

“I am particularly interested in hearing the experience of the young women apprentices and their views on dealing with gender imbalance in the workforce can help deal with skills shortages.”

Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which began on February 29 and runs until March 4, aims to promote the benefits of taking part in on-the-job training.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that the Scottish government is seeking to create 26,000 Modern Apprenticeships for the year 2016/2017.

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