5,000 high-skill apprenticeships will close Scotland’s skills gap, Sturgeon says

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised to create thousands more apprenticeships in high-skill industries such as engineering and technology.

The SNP leader made the pledge as part of her election campaign, and added the party would put youngsters at the “cutting edge” of the nation’s economy, by focusing on improving skills.

These 5,000 new apprenticeships will help to do this, the minister said, as they will be in “high-level science, technology and engineering courses that deliver the skills employers need and the high-wage jobs our young people deserve”.


More support for maths and science

The newly announced high-level apprenticeships are in addition to the increase in places from 25,000 to 30,000 a year by 2020, if the party is re-elected in May.

Sturgeon said: “Giving our young people the skills they need to be at the cutting edge of our economy and our jobs market is vital for their future and for the future of our economy.

“That means learning from our traditional industries, expanding support for science, maths, engineering and vocational training, building greater connections between industry, schools and colleges, and ensuring our young people are able to see the huge opportunities ahead of them.

“A re-elected SNP government will expand the number of apprenticeships to 30,000 every year by the end of Parliament, with 5,000 additional places focused on highly skilled employment and growing industries.

“In the past, too many of our communities and our young people were let down by the Tories and neglected by Labour. An SNP government will make sure we give all of our young people the best possible start to their working lives by protecting jobs, creating opportunities and investing in skills and education for all.”


Lib Dems’ education pledge

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, also campaigning ahead of the 5 May election, pointed out that one fifth of employers in Scotland are unable to find workers with the skills they need, as reported by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

His party is also focusing on education to close the skills gap and plans to invest more heavily in colleges, claiming that 152,000 college places have been lost – 20,000 in Aberdeen – during the SNP’s tenure.

Rennie said: “To build a sustainable economy for that future where everyone contributes to the economic well-being of the nation, we need a plan that extends opportunity for everyone.

“The best route out of poverty is work and the best route into work is education. We know the best way to build a sustainable, vibrant economy is to deploy the talents of all our people. At the moment too many people are being left behind.”