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SQA apprentices take home trophy with community project

A project that provides work experience tailored to the specific needs of adults with complex learning disabilities has been named as the winner of the 2019 Glasgow Apprenticeship Challenge.

The winning team, made up of Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) modern apprentices Lindsey Burke, Anna McGowan, Lauren Graham and Eve Cunningham, designed and delivered their voluntary project named ‘Work Experience for All’.

The competition challenged teams of apprentices from across the city to plan, coordinate and execute projects using the skills they have developed through their apprenticeships.

The SQA team partnered with Cherry Road Learning Centre, which provides a day service for adults with complex, profound or multiple learning disabilities, and offers a range of activities, experiences and opportunities.

The team built a close working relationship with service user Craig Pentland, who was offered the opportunity to complete work experience at SQA’s office.

The apprentices visited the centre over four days each week during a five-week period, completing activities, eating meals and spending social time with Craig, allowing him to build his confidence and skills before completing his work experience for one day per week over a further five weeks.

During his placement, Craig completed work in the SQA office with a range of teams including HR and Facilities.

John Connell, team leader at Cherry Road Learning Centre, said: “It has been really important having the apprentices here. They haven’t necessarily come from a care background, so it’s great for them to have the opportunity to gain experience in this field of work and learn more about the support of people with learning disabilities.

“It’s also been fantastic for us to have their experience, knowledge and willingness to get involved, it has added a new dynamic to the work that we do here and has given Craig a brilliant opportunity to gain work experience working alongside people he is comfortable with, and who have taken the time to build relationships with him.”

SQA Modern Apprentice Anna McGowan said: “As part of our Modern Apprenticeship, we’ve each been coming to Cherry Road, to meet with Craig ahead of his work experience placement at our office, and help him build a picture of what to expect on his placement.”

Lynsey Burke added: “During our one-to-one time with Craig, we each got to build up a relationship with him, so that when he came to our office, he knew that he already had some friends here, and we’re there to help him if he had any problems or answer any questions he may have.”

Lauren Graham said: “Working with Craig has given me an amazing opportunity to build my own confidence – I know now that I can approach new situations without worrying about them. It’s definitely going to help me with the remainder of my apprenticeship.”

Sarah Anne Rooney, Employee Development Programme Manager at SQA said: “Our Modern Apprentices have embraced this challenge with maturity, and a compassion that has really made us proud, and I am delighted that they have named as the winners of 2019 Glasgow Apprenticeship Challenge.”

The Apprenticeship Challenge is an annual event which aims to demonstrate the quality of apprentices employed in Glasgow, along with the high level of training offered by businesses and organisations in the city, with other finalists taking part from Morgan Stanley and ENGIE.

Alison McRae, senior director at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “A huge congratulations to the apprentices from SQA, who have demonstrated their skills with this fantastic project which has helped to strengthen links between the organisation and local community groups.

“All the apprentices who have taken part in this year’s challenge have demonstrated and utilised the skills they have developed through their apprenticeships across a range of diverse projects.

“It is another great example of how apprenticeships can enrich Glasgow’s workforce, and are beneficial to employers, communities and young people alike.”

DYW is the Scottish Government’s national strategy for strengthening links between schools and businesses. It aims to better prepare children and young adults for the world of work, with a target aim of reducing youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.

If you would like to find out about opportunities available to you, get in touch with the DYW team: dyw@glasgowchamberofcommerce.com