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Education / Record number of new apprentice starts in isles despite economic challenge of pandemic

Apprentice Julie-Ann Murray.

SHETLAND companies are said to have bucked the trend by taking on a record 87 new apprentice starts during 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Train Shetland vocational manager Kevin Briggs said: “We’re very happy to have been able to support these 87 apprenticeships across the isles, and across a wide variety of employment sectors.

“The recent Apprentice Employer’s Grant from Skills Development Scotland was a big factor in securing more apprentices in engineering, construction and social care.”

A particular area which has seen an increase in apprenticeships is agriculture, with six new apprentices starting their training on farms around Shetland.

One of these is Julie-Ann Murray who works at Da Yard, Lochend.

She said: “My apprenticeship at Train Shetland has opened many doors for me and has allowed me to work and learn about agriculture at the same time. I’ve also been able to take part in courses that have widened my experience and knowledge such as a spraying and a first aid course to name a couple.”

Train Shetland provides opportunities for modern apprenticeships for Shetland residents in a variety of disciplines.

It has a contract with Skills Development Scotland for funding the apprenticeships, which have grown in demand over recent years.

Shetland College UHI and Train Shetland, meanwhile, are supporting the University of the Highlands and Islands’ employability week which runs from 26 to 30 April.

Train Shetland will be offering advice and guidance on apprenticeships via a live online discussion with Developing the Young Workforce on Wednesday 28 April at 6pm, with all welcome. More information on how to join can be found here.