Spotlight on … our Modern Apprentice scheme
In our latest Spotlight on series we shine a light on our Modern Apprenticeship scheme in SCRA. We talk to our Participation Officer Jennifer Orren to find out more…
So tell us a little bit about SCRA’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme?
SCRA’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme is exclusively for young people who have experience of being in care and/or of the Children’s Hearings System. Most applicants are aged between 16-20, but anyone up to the age of 29 can apply.
Modern Apprentices are offered a two year work experience programme, where they gain both valuable work experience, as well as support to undertake a professionally recognised qualification that is transferrable and relevant to many employment settings, including our own. The qualification is a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Business and Administration and we work in partnership with West Lothian College to deliver this.
What kind of support do you offer the Modern Apprentices?
There is a flexible application and interview process and young people are not required to have work experience or to have finished school. In addition, we offer extra learning support throughout the apprenticeship if required, for example, where young people may have had an interruption to their education.
We pay the living wage and promote a variety of learning experiences and opportunities for development. The aim is to support young people to acquire both structured work experience in line with their SVQ and the office’s needs, as well as a highly respected qualification that will support them to obtain future permanent employment, either within our organisation or externally.
How long has the programme been running for?
The programme has been running for 13 years. We have learned a lot during this time on the best ways to deliver the programme to ensure its success. We look forward to continuing with the programme and welcoming more Modern Apprentices to SCRA in the future.
How many young people have participated in the scheme?
Thirteen young people have participated in the scheme so far. Six are still employed within the organisation as full time members of staff. Some have gone on to university or to work for organisations like the NHS.
What does it entail if you are a Modern Apprentice in SCRA? What kind of work do you do?
Modern Apprentices are employed to gain administrative work experience in an office environment, as well as undertake a qualification delivered by West Lothian College. The qualification we offer is a Scottish Vocational Qualification Level 3 in Business and Administration. Most of our candidates are offered a work placement in a Locality office. The nature of the work is administration and is dependent on the needs of each candidate; some may have more experience than others, so we start with the basics and build up from there. The type of work that we offer tends to range from reception, filing, petty cash management, answering the phone and transferring calls etc, to full support on the Locality support teams when they are ready. We have had Modern Apprentices hosted in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumbarton, Paisley, Inverness, Kilmarnock and Stirling.
Alongside this, we work with our Modern Apprentices to improve children and young people’s understanding of, and participation, in Children’s Hearings. Our Modern Apprentices have been, or are, members of our Participation Group. They have led on the development of the new Hearing rooms programme, supported us with the development of communications materials, the installation of art displays and sensory gardens, consultations, and many other new approaches. They work towards being inclusive and supportive to all children and young people attending Hearings and this is demonstrated in many of their work streams.
What happens when a Modern Apprentice successfully completes the scheme?
Modern Apprentices are offered a traineeship after the successful completion of their qualification on the two year programme. Once the traineeship has been completed, they are offered full time permanent employment in the organisation within four years. Some of our Modern Apprentices have gone on to new roles within the organisation. One of our former Modern Apprentices recently became an Assistant Reporter and another one is considering a law degree part-time.
Has the Modern Apprentice scheme made a difference within SCRA or the wider Children’s Hearings System?
The Modern Apprentice scheme has had a significant and very positive impact on the way in which we work in SCRA. Their input and valuable feedback in consultations has changed many of the ways we work, for the better.
Since the Modern Apprentice programme was developed, we have changed the way in which we communicate with children and young people, delivered new child-and-young-person-friendly Hearing suites to most of our office locations, worked in partnership with other agencies to promote the scheme so that they can introduce it themselves, delivered training and awareness raising sessions and worked on multiple projects with partner agencies, including the development of Our Hearings, Our Voice.
What if I am interested in applying for a Modern Apprentice post or I know someone who might be interested?
The Modern Apprenticeship Programme is generally advertised once per year on our website and various employment websites. We also post on social media when we recruit and work closely with partner agencies in the local area when we are about to advertise. You can contact me at Jennifer.Orren@scra.gov.uk if you would like to know more. I would love to hear from you.