Employers are ‘kick-starting’ their involvement in Foundation Apprenticeships – GE Caledonian

Foundation Apprenticeships are proving to be quite the hit at Ayrshire College, not only with school pupils, but local employers too. This year as a part of our Year 1 Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship programme two local companies, GE Caledonian and Woodward, have been actively mentoring the pupils during their practical classes.

Foundation Apprenticeships are two-year long courses for School pupils going into S5. One of the top benefits of the course is the employer engagement.

As we are coming to the end of Year 1 for our second set of Engineering Foundation Apprentices, we caught up with Gordon, Apprenticeship Mentor, from GE Caledonian to find out why he wanted to be involved with the course.     


Gordon (third left) with the Foundation Apprentices

Why would GE Caledonian be interested in mentoring the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship Class?

For us this is a way to identify potential future candidates, so it is brilliant. We get to work with the pupils in a classroom environment and be a part of discovering new talent. As well as finding talent, we can also play a part in supporting those that maybe aren’t ready to apply for an MA with us yet, but could in the future.

Mentoring the class has also enabled us to support a pupil who applied for an MA with us but didn’t get selected for interview due to his CV. When I found this out, I felt that as a company we could support this pupil. Meaning if he decides to apply to us next year, then great, but it will ensure he is in a good position for wherever he decides to apply.

Does this programme help you recruit directly for your Modern Apprenticeship Programme?

We are using the Foundation Apprenticeship and PEO courses almost like a pipeline feeding into our Modern Apprenticeship programme. The workshop experience and qualifications they get from these courses means we can recruit the pupils straight into a second year apprenticeship.

By being a part of the class as a Mentor, it’s kind of like pre-apprenticeship interviews, we get to know them and they get to know what we would expect.

On my first visit to the class, I spoke with the pupils to learn more about them. Helping with their practical activities actually reminded me of when I was an apprentice, which was a nice throwback to my younger days.

The practical experience the pupils gain from these courses is a great foundation for us to build on in our Modern Apprenticeship programme. Taking the time out of my working day to be here makes absolute sense for the company. We get to know who we are investing in and can be assured of their knowledge and abilities in an environment they are comfortable in and don’t feel they are being tested by us.

Is there a mix of male and female apprentices at GE Caledonian?

This is something we as a company we feel very strongly about. We want to inspire both male and female pupils to come and work with us. I know there is a mind-set that only males come and do apprenticeships, but that is just not the case with us. We have very successful female apprentices on our programmes and we want to continue to encourage all pupils to apply to work with us. This is something we have always done.

How is Fraser (Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentice) getting on?

Fraser is just a fantastic pupil, he has exceeded our expectations. He is gearing up to start with us in August as a Modern Apprentice.

Kirsty Taylor, Foundation Apprenticeship Lead at the College commented: “Engagement from employers is paramount to the overall success of these types of programmes. It is not just about hearing about jobs and visiting companies, it is about having the opportunity to converse with employers, find out what they are looking for from young people, and just having the confidence to demonstrate their knowledge and skills for the mentors. Currently, we have had several Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentices being offered Modern Apprenticeships upon completion of the course. In one case, a pupil was even offered the MA a year in advance. These are the types of opportunities employer engagement can offer.

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