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Early learning gets under way at the University of the Highlands and Islands

By Calum MacLeod

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The new intake of graduate early learning apprentices at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The new intake of graduate early learning apprentices at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

THE first full intake of graduate apprentices in early learning and childcare has been welcomed to the University of the Highlands and Islands.

A total of 15 apprentices from across Scotland have signed up to the Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) in Early Learning and Childcare – one of two schemes being piloted in Scotland this year.

The GA enables school leavers, people looking to change career or those already working in the industry the chance to combine work with study up to degree level and gain Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) practitioner status within three years.

On completion of the GA, the apprentices will graduate with a degree plus valuable work-based experience.

Inverness College UHI will lead delivery of the course, which will be networked across university partners from Shetland to Argyll, allowing students to study remotely while living and working in their local community.

Programme leader Alice Mongiello said: “This graduate apprenticeship is enabling people living in some of the remotest parts of Scotland to study up to degree level, while working in an early learning and childcare setting.

“We are delighted to be piloting this new programme which has been positively received by early learning and childcare providers across Scotland, enabling us to fill all the places allocated by Skills Development Scotland.

“We met with all the apprentices and managers as part of a three-day induction and the feedback was excellent, with everyone excited about what this type of qualification could mean for the sector.”

The Scottish Government has set a target of recruiting 11,000 new childcare workers by 2020 to enable it to meet its commitment of providing 30 hours of free childcare to eligible two to four year-olds.

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