Foundation Apprenticeships

Last year we introduced an Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship as part of our school college course programme.

School pupils can study a Foundation Apprenticeship in S5 to S6 as one of their school subjects. This type of course offers pupils the opportunity of significant work experience before they have left school.

In this blog post, Fraser Wallace, a fifth year pupil at Greenwood Academy, tells us about his experience as a foundation apprentice so far.


Fraser has been studying the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering since August 2016.

Why did you decide to study a Foundation Apprenticeship?

Doing the course works wells with me being at school. I don’t have to keep my options to just my Highers, I can do a college course at the same time.

It also means I can reduce the amount of time it will take me to get the job I want.

Why did you choose the Foundation Apprenticeship in engineering?

Engineering is a massive sector and has something for everyone. There will always be a need and demand for engineers, which is appealing. I prefer to learn by being in the workshop and practising what we are learning. I am very excited to get to work with a company, it’s a brilliant idea. They will get to meet me and know my name before I have even applied for a job.

Did you have any experience in engineering before you started the course?

I did my work experience at General Electric, which was brilliant. I also help my dad fixing things around the house. He works offshore in engineering. I knew I wanted to do engineering before I started the course, but I thought it would be good to try it out before I commit.

What do you do in the course?

I spend two afternoons a week at college. On Tuesday it’s practical with my engineering lecturer, Sarah. At the moment we are wiring electric boards. On Thursday it’s more theory based covering topics like safety, engineering processes and things like the reactions of metal when we are working with it. Next semester we are starting Computer Aided Design (CAD) work.

What do you like best about the course?

Doing the practical work and especially getting to try it yourself. It’s a great feeling knowing that you are trusted to practise a task independently. I really like the course content as well, it’s very interesting.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the course so far?

I haven’t found anything in the course too difficult at the moment.

How does it work with your school studies?

I picked up a bus pass from my school reception which gets me to the Irvine campus for the course and then back to the school. The bus gets me to the campus in plenty of time. I am taking 3 Highers along with the Foundation Apprenticeship. I was going to take a fourth Higher, but when I saw the option to take Engineering I thought it wasn’t an opportunity I was going to get again at school. I needed to take it this year.

My parents at first were hesitant but they know this is what I want to do. They support me 100%.

How does it differ from being at school?

It’s a different style of teaching at college, you are treated more like an adult. It’s nice to have a feeling of independence.

How did you hear about Foundation Apprenticeships?

Through my guidance teacher, he knew I wanted to do engineering so gave me information about the course. I researched what the course was and then went to the Foundation Apprenticeship information session at Ayrshire College in April. This helped answer any questions that I and my parents had.

What was the process of applying?

I completed an application form and then went for an interview. I took the aptitude test and passed, it was quite basic maths.

What do you want to do when you finish school?

I would like to be an Aeronautical Engineer. Most of these companies recruit through college and apprenticeship programs. I knew someone that was an apprentice at General Electric and they put him through university.

Why would you like to be an Engineer?

There are always problems in the world to solve. I won’t be working on the same problem everyday either. There will always be new challenges.

Fraser will continue the Foundation Apprenticeship in engineering through his 5th and 6th year of school. Completing the course will give him a head start when applying for a job, Modern Apprenticeship, or a full-time college or university College course.

Sarah Taylor, Engineering Lecturer teaching the Foundation Apprenticeship, said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship allows school pupils to undergo elements of modern apprenticeship training in Engineering whilst maintaining the benefits of completing National 5’s and Highers at school.  This adds to the employability of the pupils and gives them additional skills and knowledge most school leavers would not have.  Hopefully l, the course will encourage them to pursue a career in an engineering discipline”.

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