University of the Highlands and Islands expands apprenticeship opportunities

The University of the Highlands and Islands will be one of the first institutions in Scotland to offer a new Modern Apprenticeship in boat building and repair. The programme, which has been developed by the science, engineering and manufacturing technologies alliance (Semta) in collaboration with industry partners, will be available through Argyll College UHI from September.

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The apprenticeship aims to address a shortage of qualified adults and young people entering Scotland’s boat building and repair industry. The trade association British Marine reports that 31% of Scottish companies have hard to fill vacancies as a direct result of skill shortages. The new programme will include modules in statutory regulations and organisational safety requirements, lifting and moving materials, and machinery and components. Apprentices will then choose to focus on wooden or metal and composite boat building and repair.

The programme is part of a wider expansion of the university’s modern apprenticeship offering. As part of changes to national assessment requirements and funding arrangements, the university is now offering construction apprenticeships directly to employers in some areas. This provides employers with access to the training and expertise that colleges have been providing for many years, without restricting access to their Construction Industry Training Board funding. Colleges will also be continuing to work with the Construction Industry Training Board to fulfil existing apprenticeship delivery arrangements.

Other developments include the introduction of higher level apprenticeships in management. The advanced programmes, which are being designed with Inverness College UHI, will support current and aspiring business leaders to develop skills and leadership qualities within their work environment.

The university’s regional modern apprenticeship programme provides employers with training tailored to their needs in areas including engineering, aquaculture, business and finance, logistics, ICT and digital, and life sciences. University and college staff can help employers recruit suitable candidates and will provide support to both the business and the apprentice throughout the process. Successful candidates will gain valuable experience while working towards an industry recognised qualification. They can access university facilities and have the option to progress on to further educational opportunities once they have completed their apprenticeship programme.

Dr Diane Rawlinson, the university’s vice-principal for further education, said: “These latest developments are part of our planned expansion of apprenticeships offered across the region. As a tertiary university, we deliver both further and higher education programmes and provide work-based learning opportunities across the region from the senior phase of school up to honours degree level. Through the apprenticeship route many young people are choosing to earn while they learn, gaining valuable employment experience while also achieving nationally recognised qualifications much valued by industry.”

The university offers modern apprenticeship programmes through Inverness College UHI, Perth College UHI, North Highland College UHI, Argyll College UHI, West Highland College UHI, Moray College UHI, Orkney College UHI and Lews Castle College UHI. Modern Apprenticeships are also available in Shetland through Shetland College/Train Shetland UHI and NAFC UHI.

For more information on the range of modern apprenticeships available through the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership, visit

Modern Apprenticeships have been developed by Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with employers, colleges, universities and Sector Skills Councils, with support from the European Social Fund.