Data changes everything!


On Tuesday 21 March, 150 people from the private, public and education sectors will take part in our Ayrshire Bytes: Data Changes Everything conference at our Kilmarnock Campus.

We are very proud to have been approved as an official fringe event of DataFest17 – the only one outside the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. DataFest17 is week long festival of data innovation from 20-24 March 2017 which will showcase Scotland’s leading role in data on the international stage.

Leading figures in a range of industry sectors will share their views on how data and digital are changing everything we do. They include:

  • Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab (the Innovation Centre which organises DataFest), who will address the theme of the conference by taking us on a journey to 2035 and sharing examples of how data will have changed our lives
  • Brendan Faulds, former chief executive of the Digital Health & Care Institute (the Innovation Centre for health and care) who will tell the story of health and social care services in Scotland, the part data has played in its past and present, and the role it will play in shaping its future
  • Vicky Brock, chief executive of Clear Returns, who will demonstrate how to use data to influence shopper behaviour
  • Richard Millar, senior manufacturing systems engineer at Spirit Aerosystems, who will talk about the factory of the future
  • Craig Hume, managing director of Kilmarnock based Utopia Computers, who will explain why honesty and openness are key to a more secure digital world.

Developing Ayrshire’s Digital Talent

Our ambition for Ayrshire is to enable its people, businesses and communities to have the skills to take advantage of the potential of digital technologies.

Central to that are students on digital and computing courses at the College, thirty of whom will take part in the conference. Their skills will be vital to enabling companies in every sector of the economy to benefit from developments like big data, the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. The Scottish Government reported this month that an additional 12,800 digital skills roles are needed each year in Scotland. As well as in the digital industry, these jobs will be in sectors of the economy like finance, manufacturing, retail, health and tourism.

These jobs will only be filled if increasing numbers of people choose to develop the skills required and we are working hard to inspire more young people at school to choose courses which develop digital skills. Our hugely successful Coderdojo Ayrshire computing coding clubs for seven to seventeen year-olds have introduced hundreds of primary and secondary age young people to programming and developing apps.

On International Girls in ICT Day on 27 April, in partnership with SmartSTEMs, we are taking our #ThisAyrshireGirlCan campaign to a new level with a Technology Workout for 120 first and second year secondary school girls. As well as hearing from inspirational female speakers, the girls will take part in a wide range of interactive workshops led by industry and take part in our award-winning CoderDojo Ayrshire.

Supported by funding from the Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire regional group, Ayrshire College has teamed up with Apps for Good, an open source technology education movement, to equip young people to research, design and make digital products and take them to market. Most children are consumers of technology. Apps for Good aims for young people to become makers using technology. Aimed at pupils in third year at secondary school this project will provide a pathway for young people prior to making their subject choices.

For fourth year pupils looking at their options for fifth and sixth year at secondary school the IT: Software Development Foundation Apprenticeship will be delivered in college two afternoons a week from August 2017. Find out more here.

Ayrshire – byte or be bitten

There is no doubt that data and the digital technologies that enable companies to analyse, visualise and act on it are disrupting the way we work, learn and play. 

If you would like to speak to us about your digital skills needs, or you would like to support the work we are doing to encourage young people to pursue digital careers, please contact Moira Birtwistle at moira.birtwistle@ayrshire.ac.uk or Ged Freel at ged.freel@ayrshire.ac.uk 

 

Tackling gender segregation in the Modern Apprenticeship programme

Alyson Laird is a PhD research student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She works within the WiSE Research Centre which seeks to promote and make visible women’s contribution to Scotland’s economy. Her PhD research focuses on gender segregation in the Modern Apprenticeship programme in Scotland.

Alyson visited our Kilwinning Campus recently to have a chat about our approach to tackling gender imbalance in courses and apprenticeships. We invited Alyson to share the aims of her research with us in our blog.


I haven’t always been passionate about gender equality and feminism, but an inspiring lecturer at GCU encouraged me to think differently about the economy and society we live in. Since then, I have had a desire to be part of the change needed to tackle inequalities in our society, specifically gender inequalities.

My research focuses around the Modern Apprenticeship programme, and more specifically the gender segregation which exists within the programme. Gender segregation is where women and men are more likely to be found in jobs stereotypically associated with their gender. For example, less than 2% of those participating in construction and related apprenticeship frameworks are women – that’s only 77 out of over 5,000 participants! My research asks why this is the case and what is being done to change it.

Is it a problem?

This is a question I hear often. Maybe girls just want to work in childcare and hairdressing and boys want to work on building sites and shipyards? These are statements I hear when I discuss my research with people who aren’t aware of the extent of the problem.

Yes, it is a problem.

It’s a problem because the youngest members of our society are taught from a very early age that there are jobs for girls and jobs for boys. Arguably, things are changing – schools, for instance, are making massive changes in this area. You only have to watch kids’ TV for an afternoon or go into a toy shop to notice that gender stereotyping is everywhere. Girls play with dolls and dress up as princesses. Boys play with Lego and pretend to be superheroes. The world around children at the earliest ages can have an impact on the careers they decide to embark on later on.

It’s a problem because we have a gender pay gap, a situation where women in society are being paid less than men in society and much of this is to do with women and men being in jobs stereotypically associated with their gender. The jobs which women are most visible in are those which typically offer lower pay and are often under-valued in our society. Think of the important work that social care workers do? Why are they not being paid a better wage for the job they do, a job that requires a unique set of skills and recognised qualifications?

I don’t think it is just a case of girls wanting to do stereotypical women’s jobs and boys wanting to do stereotypical men’s jobs. I think there are structural and cultural constraints which influence the choices young people make, and hinder accessibility to certain sectors. And I think the Modern Apprenticeship programme has a massive role to play in helping to eliminate existing stereotypes.

What will I do?

There are over 25,000 young people starting apprenticeships every year in Scotland. The most popular apprenticeships are those within Construction & Related frameworks and those within Health & Social Care frameworks. These occupational groups are also the most gender segregated.

My research is looking at both – challenging what is being done to get more women into construction and addressing the low esteem within health & social care frameworks. I am doing this by firstly talking to as many stakeholders as possible. So, I am speaking to places like Ayrshire College who have been proactive in engaging with both sides of the issue through events like ThisAyrshireGirlCan and ThisManCares. The contribution from stakeholders is valuable, it allows me to explore what is going on in the Modern Apprenticeship programme and enhances my understanding of who does what in terms of funding and recruitment for example.

Secondly, I will chat with Modern Apprentices themselves – firstly through a survey and then through interviews. It is important that the voice of apprentices themselves comes through strongly within this research. The story the apprentices tell about their journey to do a Modern Apprenticeship, who influenced them, what challenges they faced, why they chose that particular route, is one of the most important parts of my research. It tells the real story of what’s going on and how things could be improved from people who have lived the experience.

Finally, I will engage with employers, asking them what they are doing to support apprentices and how they can play a role in improving gender equality within the programme.

Why am I doing this?

Because I want to see change.

The changes happening are too slow, the figures over the last ten years have hardly changed. I wonder why with all the efforts to make young people aware of what’s out there and with all the events which take place to encourage non-traditional careers, what has been missed? Hopefully my research will start to try and answer this question and I can help contribute to positive change for women in our society.

If you would like more information about my research please contact me at:

Alyson.Laird@gcu.ac.uk or follow my Twitter feed @AlysonLaird

 

 

8 things the Semta UK Training Partner of the Year Award means for Ayrshire

Coinciding with Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Ayrshire College has received the amazing accolade of being named the 2017 UK Training Partner of the Year at the Semta Skills Awards in London.

Semta is a UK-wide organisation and is the sector skills body for engineering and manufacturing apprenticeship frameworks in Scotland.

Over 500 people representing the best of British engineering attended the awards ceremony. This achievement reflects the work we do with the engineering industry in Ayrshire, particularly the cluster of aerospace companies around Prestwick Airport, and our internal and external partnerships that facilitate this.

What does this award say about Ayrshire College? Here are eight things we believe it tells us.

MA Week Twitter posts

It shows Ayrshire means business. It can be relatively quick and easy to acquire land and build premises, but to build a skills base is a much longer term investment. The recognition from Semta, rating us as being the top training partner in the UK is a sign that we have made this investment and Ayrshire is the prime location for aerospace and manufacturing companies to operate and grow.

Companies already operating in Ayrshire can be confident that the education and training sector matches their ambitions. Meanwhile, businesses thinking of relocating have assurances that a skilled workforce already exists locally, with future generations already in the pipeline.

We are also responding to the need for businesses to be lean and globally competitive by expanding our suite of training in Business Improvement Techniques. Ayrshire can rightly boast both a highly skilled and increasingly productive workforce.

The Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme is at the heart of our offer to businesses in this sector. MAs allow companies to strategically invest in skills and combat the trend of an ageing manufacturing workforce that is seen across Scotland. The high quality of education and training we provide ensures that cohorts of MAs make a positive difference to the productivity and culture within the business. Indeed, most aerospace companies we work with recognise these advantages and have expanded their apprentice intakes over the last few years.

Opportunities are improved through partnerships with our local businesses and stakeholders. We are constantly engaging with businesses, directly and via partnerships such as Prestwick Aerospace and the Ayrshire Engineering Alliance, to establish their needs now and in the future. Through this continued engagement, we are able to invest our resources correctly, ensuring that we provide the right skills, in the right place at the right time. This engagement ensures that we can add elements to our programmes, such as Part 66 Aircraft Maintenance Licensing tuition and CAA exams, that are of real and immediate benefit to local businesses.

Local people are getting local jobs and, not just that, high value jobs too. Around 90% of our apprentice intake in 2016-17 was from local education, with 60% from an Ayrshire College course. These courses are specifically designed to align to job opportunities. Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce strategy calls for more job recruitment directly from education and that is what we are achieving. As well as apprenticeship programmes, we are helping a wide variety of people find employment. Our employability courses are helping retrain unemployed engineers into jobs as sheet-metal workers for the aircraft maintenance industry and graduates from our full-time courses are also being recruited as trainee mechanics.

We are helping create the workforce of the future by giving school pupils access to inspirational programmes. Mission Discovery gave 200 young people from across Ayrshire the opportunity to be trained and truly inspired by NASA scientists, engineers and astronauts. Sponsored by the Ayrshire College Foundation, the 5-day event will ultimately see a pupil project being carried out on the International Space Station. Young people can now see the exciting jobs that are on their doorsteps. We have started offering the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering this year, supporting senior stage school pupils to expand their vocational skills and giving them access to our local industry.

A global business sector needs a world class training environment and that is what we provide. Our Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre opened in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength. Further investment in an upgraded composites materials laboratory has ensured we are providing world class training in advanced manufacturing and repair, to the latest standards. Recent courses in this technology have seen delegates from around Europe attend and raise their skills level. Our new £53 million campus in Kilmarnock is an exceptional learning environment equipped with the latest technology to extensively support engineering and manufacturing companies.

Our work doesn’t stop when people find employment. Far from it. We continue to work with our local companies to ensure their current workforce has the correct skills they need to prosper, whether it be in composite technology, business improvement or management skills to name but a few. Firstly, this helps increase the opportunities for Ayrshire’s workforce to reach their personal career aims. Secondly, it helps business sustainability and, hopefully, aids growth. Thirdly, the combination of these two elements will create the entry level opportunities for the next generation of apprentices and graduates, creating a truly virtuous cycle.

A diverse workforce is key to future success and is something we are committed to for the benefit of our communities and businesses. Current recruitment patterns to aerospace apprenticeships and full-time college courses still show a major gender imbalance with more than 90% being male. This creates a talent pool that is vastly reduced in size which sees females have a lack of opportunity to access high value jobs. Ultimately, a reduced talent pool can have a knock-on effect for business productivity also. We work hard alongside our business partners to challenge gender stereotyping and other equality issues and our This Ayrshire Girl Can campaign won the Herald Diversity award for Best Marketing and Social Issues Campaign.

 

Meet the Apprentice – Louis Kerr, Watermiser

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

On Monday we heard from Craig Stobbs of Ayrshire Precision, and yesterday we introduced you to GE Caledonian Ltd’s Tracey Govan.

Next up is 19-year-old Louis Kerr from Newmilns who is in the first year of his apprenticeship with Watermiser, also based in Newmilns.

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Watermiser specialises in water cooling solutions and is the sister company of Dustacco. This is the first year Watermiser has hired apprentices – two in total.

Louis said “I saw Watermiser’s advertisement in the College and was encouraged to apply for it. Obviously it’s very handy for me as it’s local, but they are also friendly people to work for. I’m six or seven months into the apprenticeship now and it’s been very good so far.

“My role at Watermiser is to help make the fibreglass cooling towers. I’ve also carried out welding tasks at Dustacco too, which helps with my college work. But I’m mostly at Watermiser.”

Louis is supervised at Watermiser by Alex Jamieson.

Alex is a big believer in the apprenticeship route and is keen to help Louis succeed in every aspect of the job.

He said “We’re all at the learning stage as this is the first year we’ve ever taken apprentices on. We have three other workers here. It did feel like we had no one coming in behind us to learn the business. So we had discussions and came up with the idea of going down the apprenticeship route.

“The type of work we do isn’t very common around here, it’s very specialised. It does take a bit of learning – not many people know what fibreglassing entails. We’ve not really got machines here, everything is done by hand so it’s labour intensive.

“Louis knows all he needs to do is ask if he’s unsure about anything. We tend to have him observe what we’re doing and then give him tasks to complete. An assessor from the College comes in every three months, and in between that we’ll sit down on a one-to-one basis to see how things are progressing as well.”

Louis added “I can see myself doing this for a long time. The aim when I finish my four year apprenticeship will be to make my way up the ladder at Watermiser as far as I can.”

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part two

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

Here is what she got up to today!


8.20am – I arrive at the College and head up to the office, my start time is 8.45am but I like to get in, switch on my computer and make a coffee before settling down to my work.

9.00am – First thing I’ll do is check my emails and my diary to plan my day. I keep a daily journal of all the work I complete. I can use this for evidence for my portfolio which is how I am assessed during my apprenticeship. I write down what goals I want to achieve that particular day and tick them off as I go along.

10.30am – On a Monday, we have our Digital Team meeting. We discuss upcoming events that we need to promote, what needs to be updated on the website, where we are with new campaigns and projects, what social media posts have been scheduled and our plan for the plasma screens throughout the three campuses. During the meeting, I discuss what videos I have uploaded to the College website and what blogs are being promoted that week.

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12.00pm – Today we have a Supplier Networking Lunch for people who the Marketing Team work closely with, photographers and press etc. It is a chance to build relationships, learn about new media opportunities and network.  It is being hosted in Kilmarnock Campus restaurant, Salt & Barrel (www.saltandbarrel.co.uk). Myself and Jennifer, Digital Marketing Officer sat beside Ruth Blakely and Gerry Cassidy from Word on The Street Magazine. Lunch was delicious as always!

2.30pm – I gave the invited guests a tour of the new Kilmarnock Campus after lunch. The new building opened in October and it’s nice to get the chance to show it off.

4.00pm – For the last hour today I uploaded images to Instagram, I have been given responsibility for creating content for this app. I then scheduled some social media posts on the Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge (a challenge to get as many people as possible commuting to work by walking, cycling, public transport and lift-sharing). Ayrshire College staff can sign up here: https://scotland.getmeactive.org.uk.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow because I am going on a training day with my team. Check back here to find out how I get on.

#ScotAppWeek17

#thisayrshiregirlcan

Hospitality Apprenticeships will help you move up the ladder

During Scottish Apprenticeship Week we thought it would be good to do a series of blogs called, “Meet the Assessor.” These are designed to help employers and apprentices gain an insight into the role of an assessor. Starting the series is Angela Murray who is a Hospitality SVQ Assessor.


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My occupation background is primarily in a range of hospitality roles, ranging from bar work and general catering to management in different roles for companies across Scotland.

I have a range of qualifications that help me deliver my job role effectively, HND Hospitality Management, SIA licence, Personal Licence, First Aid, Assessor Qualification and Food Hygiene to name a few.

I am currently a Hospitality SVQ Assessor for Ayrshire College, where I help to develop and look after Scotland’s hospitality future. I have been an assessor for over two years and have been fortunate enough to work with a range of workforces and companies throughout Scotland.

The best parts of my job are seeing apprentices develop from day one and then attain a qualification for their career to develop and achieve their dreams in industry.”

So, what does SVQ Assessor involve and what companies do I visit? I use my experience and training to assess the work of others to establish occupational competence, usually in the work place. I work with the organisations and companies to develop the workforce in the hospitality industry.”

To give you an example of my day; today I visited Dalmellington House where I carried out an observation of an apprentice working in the kitchen during the morning service, creating dishes and maintaining food safety. I then visited Trump Turnberry and met with the Management Team and a new apprentice who was completing her paperwork for a Level 2 Professional Cookery SVQ.
I work with a range of companies that have and offer a hospitality element within them. Some of the types of companies I have assessed in are, garden centres, bars, hotels, guest houses, golf resorts, Rolls Royce catering unit, care homes, schools, casinos, museums, and tourist attractions.

I have assessed many of apprentices over my two years as a SVQ Assessor, and the best advice I can give to ensure a Modern Apprentice will be successful in achieving their award is:

Apprentices need the appropriate level of competence in their field of expertise, at least six months experience within the relevant job role at the level appropriate to the qualification, a contract of employment, suitable working conditions and a supervisor/manager/trainer in place. They need to be working to a company’s policies and procedures, able to show they can comply with national standards and all relevant legislation. The apprentice would also need to be committed to their own learning and development and have a desire to achieve a qualification.

Assessment takes place in different forms; it can be direct observations, products of work, written questions and answers, a witness testimony and reflective accounts.

I would work with the apprentice to plan visits, discuss what would be taking place during the visit and what the candidate needs to work on between visits. Assessors are available to support and help direct the apprentice to achieve all the criteria that is needed for the individual units they are undertaking.

Working as an Assessor I have witnessed first-hand how valued and sought after modern apprentices are to employers. Hospitality in Scotland is always growing and thriving as an industry, with companies expanding and taking on more and more employees. This makes it a perfect sector to start a promising career and develop yourself and move up the ladder within the industry. Wherever you wish to begin and take your career in hospitality, there really is no limit!

To find out more about our Modern Apprenticeships in Housekeeping, Professional Cookery, Front of House/Reception, Food & Beverage Services, Hospitality, Supervision & Leadership and Hospitality Management Skills, email educationcontracts@ayrshire.ac.uk.

See our blog on why hospitality is a great career choice.

 

Video links
Inspiring Hospitality Careers

Scottish Apprenticeship Week: Emma Tait – Cecchini’s

Scottish Apprenticeship Week: Paul Tyrrell – Trump Turnberry

School – College Courses: Professional Cookery: Ashley from Kyle Academy

#ScotAppWeek17
#apprenticeships
#hospitality
#professionalcookery

Meet the apprentice – Craig Stobbs, Ayrshire Precision

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

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First up is 18-year-old Craig Stobbs from Drongan, who is an Apprentice CNC Machinist with Ayrshire Precision.

Ayrshire Precision is a sub-contractor for the oil and gas industry. They are based in Low Coylton and produce components worldwide and have a customer base as far as Malaysia and Australia.

Craig got his opportunity there through his own perseverance. When still at secondary school, he enquired about work experience during the Easter break. After that went well, he was invited back in over the summer.

Now he’s in the second year of an apprenticeship following a year studying at Ayrshire College.

Craig said “I’d initially asked for some work experience and they were happy enough with how I performed. I was keen to start an apprenticeship after that, as I wasn’t interested in university and thought the quicker I could get into a job, the better.

“Ayrshire Precision is great to work for because they evaluate how you are doing and allow you to do things by yourself when they feel you’re up to the task. It’s the best way to learn for me – to learn by doing.

“I found the first year at the College pretty good. Obviously I needed to understand the basics before working with the machines here.”

“I’d definitely recommended the apprenticeship to anyone who is not interested in university.  For anyone still at school, I’d stress that maths is important for this role.”

Chris Hepburn is the Managing Director of Ayrshire Precision and keeps a close eye on Craig’s progress.

Chris said “We’re pretty happy with the way he’s progressing. He’s probably a good bit further ahead of where we would expect him to be at this stage. He is still supervised but we do feel we can leave him to complete tasks on his own.

“We tend to take apprentices every year – sometimes one, sometimes two. We aim to grow our own skilled tradespeople. The apprenticeship route is absolutely the way to go for our business, we’ve got to put the time and money into apprentices.

“Craig was very proactive. He took the initiative to approach me for work experience, and he learnt quickly. Even on his days off college in the first year, he would come in to get to know the people and the business.”

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part one

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

We start with an introduction to what Catriona did before she became an apprentice. Look out for Catriona’s daily updates throughout Scottish Apprenticeship Week next week.


6 – 10 March 2017 marks Scottish Apprenticeship Week so, to coincide with this, I am going to write about what I do day to day working as a Modern Apprentice. Today, I’ll give you a bit of background on what I did before starting my apprenticeship.

Catriona - blog.png

I left school after 5th year with a few Highers and Standard Grades but I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do next. All I knew was that I wanted a break from education. I moved from part-time to full-time in my family’s café in Largs and worked my way up to management level. While I was working there I began to save and decided to pack my bags and go travelling.

After spending three years travelling, working and volunteering in Spain, Thailand and Australia I decided it was time to settle back in Scotland and choose a career to work towards. I was open to trying something completely new and kept my eye on websites to see what job opportunities were available. I spotted a vacancy for a Digital Marketing Apprentice at the College. When I read the job description it sounded really interesting and, coupled with the fact it was an apprenticeship, it was the ideal job for me.

Although I did okay at school I knew I would struggle returning to a classroom environment and the chance to learn while working was just so much more appealing to me. I’m definitely more of a hands-on person. Being able to earn a wage while learning was also a big advantage, especially since I’ve been working since I was 13!

Luckily for me, I got the job with Ayrshire College and began my two year apprenticeship in July 2016. I’ve been with the College for eight months now and I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity. I really do love my job.

Working with the Marketing Team no two days are the same and there’s always something new and exciting happening. Read my blog next week to find out what I do day-to-day in a typical week.

Making Modern Apprenticeships accessible to all young people


kaheadshot2Kirsteen Allison
is an equalities adviser at Skills Development Scotland where she leads on disability. Her role is to tackle under representation in Modern Apprenticeships and training.

As we start to prepare for Scottish Apprenticeship Week in March, we asked Kirsteen to write a guest post on the importance of ensuring that all young people have access to apprenticeships.


I have a number of disabilities. I am hearing impaired and visually impaired. My speech is also slightly affected by my hearing impairment. Having these disabilities means I bring the perspective of a disabled person to my role.

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to persuade employers to recruit disabled people. I know how insensitive, ignorant and discriminative people can be. I know how hard it can be to ‘fit in’ to a new workplace.

A young disabled person leaving school, entering the world of work for the first time, is particularly vulnerable. They are unlikely to have any experience of applying for jobs or a job interview, so encountering an employer who has concerns about what support they may need, can be frightening and make the young person more inclined to ‘stick’ to a similar environment to school, such as college.

At that young age, they may have received no information on the support available in the world of work, what their rights are, and what the wide range of post school options are.

I had several part time jobs whilst at school and at university. However, it wasn’t until I graduated with my postgraduate diploma and got my first ‘real’ job at the age of 23 (in the same company I work for today) that I had any idea of Access to Work. This is a fund that can contribute towards the cost of any reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

This fund pays for my communication support to help me hear in meetings and equipment to help me hear on the phone. It enables me to do my job and do it well. If I had known about this sooner, it would have avoided many uncomfortable interview situations and misunderstandings in previous employment.

Take my first interview, after achieving my degree and before my postgraduate diploma. It got off to a bad start with the interviewer declaring “oh, you don’t look deaf!” If anyone knows how I should look, please tell me!

He then proceeded to ask me how much it would ‘cost’ his company to hire me. I was taken aback and unable to answer him properly. I did not know he was referring to my disabilities and the potential cost of supporting me. Furthermore, I had no idea how much it would ‘cost’ the company for support – how could I know?

I didn’t know what equipment or support was available to me, nor was I aware of Access to Work. Clearly the employer was not aware either, nor was he aware of the Disability Discrimination Act (as it was at that time) which would have prevented him from asking such questions.

So, what I try to do in my current role is inform young people, parents and teachers of the range of opportunities available after school and raise their awareness of Access to Work funding and other support that is available to them in the world of work. We’ve updated our websites with information on post-school options and videos of disabled young people undertaking a variety of apprenticeships.

We try to ensure that apprenticeships and training opportunities are as accessible as possible by proving training providers with equality training and resources on how to ensure they are recruiting diversely. We established the ASN Access Fund to fund reasonable adjustments on Employability Fund programmes. We have also been trying to challenge misconceptions about recruiting a disabled person.

We are having some good success.

Last year, one particular employer was concerned that it would be too dangerous to recruit a disabled person to an engineering apprenticeship. After speaking to myself, my colleagues and some disability organisations, they have now recruited a physically disabled apprentice.

However, we have a long way to go before we change the perceptions of every employer and indeed every disabled young person who may be thinking the world of work is not for them. We are always keen to hear from employers, disability organisations and disabled people on the work we are doing and answer any questions they may have.


Want to know more?

You can contact Kirsteen at kirsteen.allison@sds.co.uk. For more information on Modern Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.scot

ADAmant that we will attract more women into STEM!

Vice principal Jackie Galbraith shares her thoughts on the importance of recognising and celebrating women in STEM in the past, present and future.


It’s Ada Lovelace Day 2016, and Ayrshire College is ADAmant that we will attract more girls and women into science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM).

This is a key priority for us and we are working with schools, employers and national organisations to raise awareness of opportunities for women in STEM sectors, encourage take-up of STEM courses by girls and women, help students succeed on their courses, and connect female STEM students on different courses across the college, with students in other colleges and universities, and with women in industry.

Many people argue that there has never been a better time to be a woman in STEM. There are tens of thousands of high value, high quality jobs in sectors like digital and engineering. Employers don’t just need women to fill these jobs – they WANT them, because of the skills they bring! And, increasingly there are more diverse and equally valued routes to becoming a STEM professional – through college, apprenticeships and/or university.

But, we have a problem.

The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe. The proportion of young women taking STEM subjects at school, college and university is stubbornly low. And, incredibly, there is a smaller proportion of women studying and working in computing and digital technology now than when I was a computing student 30 years ago!

And yet, throughout history, women have played an important role in STEM . However, you need to seek them out! It’s important to recognise women from the past and present to stake our claim in this exciting world. Days like Ada Lovelace Day are about celebrating the pioneering, but often unknown or forgotten, work of women in fields like computing.

Women like Ada Lovelace, the mother of programming born 200 years ago who wrote the first ever computer programme 100 years before computers were even invented! Unlike her mentor Charles Babbage, whose analytical engine was the forerunner of the physical computer, Ada had the vision to imagine that a computer could create images and music, and not just do complicated sums.

Women like Scottish mathematician Mary Somerville (soon to be recognised on a £10 bank note), born in 1780 who, despite living in an age when women were discouraged from studying science, is credited with an instrumental role in the discovery of Neptune. Mary was the young Ada Lovelace ‘s mathematics tutor and mentor.

Florence Nightingale’s infographic

Women like Florence Nightingale, well known for her dedication to injured soldiers during the Crimean War, but less famous for her mathematical ability. Florence’s analysis of large amounts of data, presented graphically ,demonstrated that significantly more men were dying from preventable diseases in hospital than from wounds inflicted in battle. This led to the government allocating funds to improve the cleanliness of hospitals. Hundreds of years before the terms ‘big data’, ‘data scientist’ and ‘data visualisation’ became the latest big things, Florence was a big deal!

It is not just rich, privileged women who have made an impact over the centuries. Jeannie Riley, one of many Glasgow female munitions workers during the First World War, dreamed of becoming an engineer. Sadly, when Jeanie’s husband and other men returned from the trenches in France, the aspirations of women like Jeanie were denied and they had to give up their jobs in industry.

Like Jeannie, American Mary Sherman Morgan dropped out of education during World War II to take a job at a munitions factory. After the war ended, she began working at North American Aviation as an aspiring rocket scientist. In the 1940s, an elite team of mathematicians and scientists started working on a project that would carry the US into space. Eventually becoming NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, what made it unusual was that many of those who charted the course to space exploration were women!

In January 2017, a new film tells the story of African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson and her two colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, whose calculations helped John Glenn became the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of the Earth. Known as computers, these women played a critical role in space exploration.

It is important to recognise and celebrate the contributions of women scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians in the past. This is becoming easier with films like Hidden Figures and books like Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women who Propelled us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars.

It is even more important to acknowledge and promote women in STEM today. Today’s women in STEM include our own students and staff (click on the links to find out more). They include the STEM ambassadors in schools across Ayrshire, as well as women in STEM industry sectors making an impact on companies in the region.

instemagram

Tomorrow’s women in STEM are the girls in today’s nursery, primary and secondary schools – some of whom are connecting to engineering, science, construction and technology through activities like Primary Engineer, the Bloodhound Challenge, and Ayrshire College’s Girls in STEM and CoderDojo workshops.

We remain ADAmant that we will challenge gender stereotyping in career and learning choices, and that we will encourage more girls and women to embark on exciting STEM courses.

If you’re just as ADAmant, please get in touch.