Accredited Training, Apprenticeship and Skills Training Update

Accredited Training and Skills Team (648.6kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

With the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, high numbers of unemployment are anticipated.  To support our employers and communities the Western Isles Pipeline has been expanded – the following will give a briefing of each strand:

No-One Left Behind (NOLB)

No-One Left Behind is part of the Scottish Government’s Strategy to support the next steps to the integration and alignment of Employability programmes.  No-One Left Behind provides a straightforward approach to employability programmes and is designed to support people to develop the skills needed to move into a secure sustainable destination. The programme supports those who have multiple-barriers to employment to progress into a positive destination.  The Comhairle is committed to the success and the integration of these initiatives and is set to normalise the No-One Left Behind Strategy within its employability pipeline.  The Accredited Training team supports participants that are furthest away from the job market, to gain the confidence, skills, and accreditation to progress successfully through the pipeline.

In 2016 Scottish Government set out their commitment to build on their work delivering a Fair Start to all in Scotland by taking forward a wider programme and aligning this plan to meet regional needs.

In 2017 Scottish Government announced the fulfilment of their commitment to reduce youth employment by 40%. Within this they included groups who face real challenges in the labour market.  These groups included disabled, low income families, people recovering from substance abuse, or homelessness.

Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Scottish Government announced a further £30 million to support those facing unemployment.  In September 2020, the Scottish Government outlined the following pledge: “We will guarantee to every young person aged between 16 and 24 in Scotland the opportunity, based on their own personal circumstances and ambitions, of going to university or college, an apprenticeship programme, training, fair employment including work experience, or participating in a formal volunteering programme”.

For further information visit the Scottish Government No one Left Behind (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) webpage.

No One Left Behind Information Leaflet 2020-21 (253.0kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

The following strands are supported by additional financial provision through the NOLB funding:

Parental Employability Support Fund (PESF)

Parental Employability Support Fund (122.1kB) is a funding strand of the NOLB grant.  PESF is a  support factions designed to address child poverty through a person-centred approach for parents to address their barriers to work. This includes employability support for those who have a lack of skills or work experience, health support, money advice, or motivational support. 

PESF helps by meeting the increasing challenge of in-work poverty, targeting support through the provision of training and employability to help parents who are already in jobs by remaining active in the workplace and gaining progression through a rewarding career.

For further information visit the Employability in Scotland (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.

Disability Employability Support Fund (DESF)

The Scottish Government announced an extra £1 million to support disabled parents to upskill/reskill to move into the employment market. To provide support and guidance for local employers, the Comhairle is working with Scottish Union of Supported Employment (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (SUSE) who have an initiative to  provide a national hub that will support and train employers to be more inclusive, innovative and prepared to support those with multiple barriers to progress to employment.

For further information visit the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.

Partnership Action for Continued Employment (PACE)

PACE is a Scottish Government's initiative to support the local response to potential and proposed redundancy situations. The PACE response to the forecast increase in redundancies and unemployment is a consequence of the economic impacts of COVID-19 and requires a localised, refreshed and differentiated approach due to the expected increase in the nature and scale of employers and individuals requiring assistance.  Locally partners are committed in ensuring PACE works well across the Western Isles.  30 To increase the reach the Comhairle has secured funding that will ensure a place-based approach is taken.  The Comhairle aims to complement and add value to what our partners are delivering locally and in collaboration will lead the local recovery.

For further information visit the Skills Development Scotland Redundancy Support (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) webpage.

Young Person Guarantee (YPG)

Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, £30 million pounds of funding was ringfenced to local government to support the delivery of the Young Person Guarantee. 

The grant is to offer additional support to those who are considered most at risk and have multiple barriers to employment.  The additional key worker support will ensure those in this priority area are given additional support leading to multiple interventions to ensure they get the most effective support in order to achieve positive progression into a positive destination.

Young Person Guarantee No-one Left Behind Inital Report (470.8kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

The Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme (995.4kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) has been launched by the Government to meet the anticipated levels of unemployment; the Government announced a £2 billion UK wide fund to create thousands of high quality 6 month work placements for young people.  The Comhairle has been successful in this bid to be both a provider and an employer for 52 places.  This funding will pay for 25 hours a week at National Minimum Wage and provide additional funding to support young people to develop industry specific skills that will help them move into sustained employment after they complete the programme. 

Government’s Plan for Jobs is supporting people back into employment.  For young people especially, a lack of work experience can be a barrier to stepping on to the jobs ladder. That is why, through the Kickstart scheme, Government is funding the creation of new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds, with work coaches referring young people to prospective employers who are able to spread the start date of job placements over the next year.

Vacancies have been created with employers large and small and across a range of sectors, including construction, digital and technology, Social Care and manufacturing.

For further information visit the GOV.UK (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

Skills Development Scotland (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (SDS) was established in 2008 and has responsibility for delivering National Training Programme apprenticeships by administering the Scottish Government’s funding contribution toward the cost of training for employees that employers wish to support through an approved Modern Apprenticeship (MA) framework. SDS support employers providing tailored skills advice and funding for workforce development.

SDS also administer the Employability Fund (EF) which brings together a number of national training programmes to provide a more flexible, outcome-focused provision for individuals.  Its focus is on offering 'real life' work experience placements for young people, with funding to training providers based on key milestones and positive outcomes.

Employability Fund

Since 2013 the Isle Work partnership, made up of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Lead Partner), Cothrom and UHI LCC have worked together to deliver the Employability Fund (EF) to meet local requirements throughout Eilean Siar.   EF has three distinct Stages which together offer opportunities to all ages from 16 onwards.  The provision is aligned to local opportunities including the Strategic Skills Pipeline (SSP).  Isle Work has over the years developed strong working relations with local employers.

Stage 2 aims to build participant’s employability skills including personal development and core skills.  Participants often have multiple and sometimes complex barriers and the training officers work with relevant support agencies (national and local) to make reasonable adjustments.  While on Stage 2, participants are encouraged to work towards achieving the SQA Introduction to Workplace Skills Award so that they have a nationally recognised SCQF Level 3 qualification to reflect their achievements. 

Stage 3 supports individuals to prepare for and sustain employment, including entry to Modern Apprenticeships. Participants gain work experience in the real world of work and gain transferable competencies including core and employability skills.  Isle Work participants plan progression routes at the outset, including work experience placements with a local employer.  While on Stage 3 they work towards an SQA Certificate of Work Readiness so that they have formal nationally recognised SCQF Level 4 qualification to reflect their achievements.

Stage 4 training and development interventions are intended to reflect local labour market opportunities and show how these can be met through short courses to upskill or retrain. Examples of specific courses for the intermediate labour market are forklift and heavy goods vehicle licences.  In addition, SDS can consider requests for funding for training that are not on the approved training list.

Level 4/5 Foundation Apprenticeship

The Comhairle is committed to ensuring all pupils are engaged on a pathway that meets their individual needs and aspirations that will support them to make an informed career choice while at the same time meet the current and future skills needs of the local economy.  The pilot pre-Apprenticeship programmes in Hospitality and Automotive funded by Skills Development Scotland have been instrumental in the development of programmes designed to meet local economic demands and see young people on an applied learning route while still in school.  2019 saw 12 young people engage in an Automotive programme, the success of this programme is evident as numbers in the 2020 cohort doubled with 24 school pupils in The Nicolson Institute engaging in the programme.  The Accredited Training Team are currently working in partnership with Lionacliet School and the Isles Hotel Group supporting 12 pupils in Hospitality Services.

Foundation Apprenticeship (FA)

The Foundation Apprenticeships are work-based learning opportunities for senior phase secondary pupils.  The FA can be taken over one or two years for S4-S6 pupils.  Pupils spend time out of school with local employers and complete the FA alongside their school subjects.  The FA’s have been developed to help young people gain valuable, real work experience across work-based learning while they are still in school.  By giving young people earlier exposure to the world of work, their skills, experience and knowledge is developed at a much earlier stage.

Pupils gain industry insight and a qualification, learn about the world of work in up to 12 subjects.

  • Gain a qualification that’s the same level as a higher
  • Learn essential skills employers want and strengthen their CV and personal statement
  • FA’s are recognised by all Scottish Universities and Colleges
  • Offer progression onto a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship
  • Offer Industry specific skills that can lead straight to employment

Foundation Apprenticeship form an offer within the senior phase of secondary education and provides the appropriate underpinning knowledge and experience designed to enable young people to progress to employment, and modern and graduate apprenticeship programmes.  Locally, Foundation Apprenticeships are closing the gap between the classroom and the workplace, with pupils realising the benefits of work-based learning

For further information visit the Appreniceships.Scot (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website

Foundation Apprenticeship (2.6MB)

Bespoke Pre-Apprenticeship

To ensure the future needs of all young people are met, the No-One Left Behind funding has enabled the team to develop tailored pre-apprenticeship routes in areas linked to current and future skills shortages such as construction, childcare and social care. 

Modern Apprenticeship (MA)

The dual purpose of the MA Programme is to support individuals to learn while in work and for economic growth across Scotland.  MAs are a joint investment between employers and public funding. Employers invest the greater amount through wage costs and on-going support and public funding contributes towards the cost of training.  Skills Development Scotland administers the Scottish Government’s funding contribution toward the cost of training for employees that employers wish to support through an approved MA framework.

The number of apprenticeships, the level of apprenticeship and the age ranges for apprenticeships are controlled and training providers must apply to SDS annually for both Modern Apprenticeships and Employability Fund places.  SDS has published its MA Programme – Service Delivery Policy Statement 2017/18 which states that the priority areas are:

  • increasing the proportion of young people supported through MAs, particularly those aged 16 to 24 years old;
  • increasing the proportion of apprenticeships at Level 3 and above -particularly those related to STEM subjects/occupations;
  • increasing the proportion of apprenticeships which support our growth and key sectors;
  • supporting older workers where they are employed in prioritised frameworks;
  • aligning funding with the Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments;
  • maximising opportunities for the wider availability of higher level Apprenticeships including Technical Apprenticeships at SCQF Levels 8 and 9, and Professional Apprenticeships at SCQF Level 10;
  • addressing any occupational segregation issues;
  • encouraging greater participation from small and micro businesses; and
  • increasing the participation of individuals from under-represented groups including those from minority ethnic communities, people with disabilities and those with experience of care.

Modern Apprenticeships 2020/2021 (Document not currently available)

Graduate Apprenticeship 

Graduate Apprenticeships provide work-based learning opportunities up to master’s degree level for new and existing employees.  They have been created in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sector. The apprenticeships combine academic knowledge with skills development to enable participants to become more effective and productive in the workplace.

Graduate Apprenticeships provide a new way into degree-level study for individuals who are currently employed, or who want to go straight into work.  Employees can equip themselves with higher levels of academic learning and industry accreditation, which helps them progress as professionals.  Employers can develop their workforce and support staff to develop their skills.

Graduate Apprenticeships 2020/2021 (Document not currently available)

The National Transition Fund

This funds short duration training for those who are or in threat of been made redundant.

For further information visit Skills Development Scotland website and My World of Work (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.

Apprentice Transition Plan

will allow Comhairle assessors to support apprentices across the country who require additional support due to the threat of redundancy or as a result of the overall economic impact of the current pandemic.

Pathways to Apprenticeship

Due to the significant disruption within the skills system caused by COVID-19 and to ensure that young people are offered the best chance of employment and accessibility to apprenticeships, SDS has developed Pathway Apprenticeships. Pathway Apprenticeships (PA) are designed to provide individuals with the opportunity to develop knowledge and technical skills that prepare and enable them to access Modern Apprenticeship (MA) opportunities or progress to other positive destinations in line with their career aspirations   This offer of support is to apprentices who have been impacted by redundancy or job loss due to the current economic downturn.

Adopt an Apprentice

A financial incentive to help cover the wage and recruitment costs of taking on an apprentice who has been made redundant from another employer.   Funding of £5000 is available to support an apprentice to complete their qualification and commence employment for a minimum of 12 months.

Apprentice Employer Grant

Through the Comhairle SDS Contract this funding is available to employers to support the recruitment of new apprentice or to upskill existing employees through an apprenticeship. The AEG offers a contribution of:

  • £5,000 for employers taking on or upskilling a 16 to 24-year through a Modern of Graduate Apprenticeship, and for those aged up to 29 years who have a disability, are care experienced or are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.     
  • £3,500 for employers taking on or upskilling an individual aged 25 and over through a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship. 
  • Applications are open to eligible employers where the apprenticeship start date was on or after 1st December 2020. 
  • Funding will be available for starts until 25th March 2021 or until funding levels are exceeded, whichever comes first. 
  • Funding can be accessed for up to 10 new starts per employer. 


Through the PACE funding a structured partnership delivery model will be implemented that can be used in promotion and awareness raising activities by all partners.  This will enable employers and employees/individuals to know and understand the range and nature of support available to them from across the wider partnership.  The Comhairle is committed to the success of all employability services and the needs of both local employers and all participants.  This is evident through the straightforward approach of the employability pipeline.

The Comhairle takes a person-centred approach to all referrals received and this funding will ensure all referrals are sign posted to the service that best meets their individual need.  

This funding will ensure a warm handover is guaranteed for every PACE referral, this will include the following:


Debt and money advice, consumer advice, welfare rights and benefits advice, fuel bill advice; access to crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund and information on eligibility for Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit.

Enterprise and Business Start-up

Support for business, business start-up and advice and grant funding.

Employment Access and Training

Practical support to apply for jobs, create a CV, and prepare for interviews; access to a wide range of accredited vocational training; access to vacancies and links to recruiting employers.

Job Opportunities

Local Authorities employ people in a diverse range of challenging and rewarding jobs and careers at all levels across a full range of services and are happy to discuss employment opportunities with you. All council jobs are advertised on MyJobScotland (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) sign up to access alerts for suitable opportunities.

Social Work Services

Support services for families in crisis, mental health issues, addiction, disability, homelessness.

European Social Fund (ESF)

Western Isles Strategic Employability Pipeline ESF programme was originally due to end on 31 December 2020 however the programme secured continued funding to 31 December 2022.

The workforce development element of this programme provides mentoring, assessment and verification of Scottish/National Vocational Qualifications thereby supporting individuals living and working in the Western Isles, who have two or more barriers to employment and who have the potential to move into further education, an apprenticeship, sustained employment and/or self-employment.

The Workforce Development element of the Comhairle’s Western Isles Strategic Employability Pipeline application for ESF Strategic Intervention programme based on the identified gap in provision throughout the Western Isles.  There is a lack of suitably qualified staff within the workplace to undertake formal vocational assessments.  There is also a need to provide opportunities which help retain young people in our communities.

The workforce development strand of the ESF programme will provide mentoring, assessment and verification of Scottish/National Vocational Qualifications thereby supporting individuals living and working in the Western Isles, who have two or more barriers to employment and who have the potential to move into sustained employment and/or self-employment.

First Steps 2020/2021 (Document not currently available)

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment Strategy put in place to better prepare young people for the world of work.  DYW strengthens the need for collaboration and partnership in the design and planning of the curriculum in localities and regions. Partners include Skills Development Scotland, local and school based staff, regional DYW employer groups, colleges and universities. 

Additional Grant funding has been committed through the Youth Guarantee to implement a 0.5 post in every secondary school in Scotland.  Funding will be received to implement 4 x 0.5 posts to facilitate the DYW agenda and be that link between Education and Industry in the Western Isles. 

The role of DYW Schools Co-ordinator’s is to support the Schools and the DYW Outer Hebrides Programme, to develop and implement a programme of employer engagement aimed at enhancing the curriculum as well as the wider Scottish Government Policy objectives such as delivering the Young Person Guarantee. 

The DYW School Co-ordinator will support senior leaders in the school to embed the Developing the Young Workforce Strategy and other employer offers within the curriculum. They will create and implement a structure for employer engagement which reflects the schools DYW plans and also maintain a robust network of partners within the local business community.  In so doing they will support school leadership teams in fulfilling national priorities around employability, enterprise, Career Education Standards and Work Placement Standards.

The Scottish Government has articulated 4 overarching policy ambitions that this additional investment should fulfil. This is focussed on responding to the economic situation presented by COVID-19 and ensuring alignment to the work of the Young Person’s Guarantee.

This overarching ambition sets in context the work of all of those working to support young people to enter the labour market so the work of DYW Regional Groups must reflect this.

The four policy ambitions are:

  1. Supporting those furthest away from the labour market
  2. Embodying “No Wrong Door” approach
  3. Enhancing capacity within core DYW Regional Groups
  4. Enable integration of Young Person’s Guarantee

Scottish Government £1 boost for the young workforce (Opens in a new window or downloads a file).

e-Sgoil National Offer

The Comhairle objectives for our young people are to equip them with the relevant employability skills, accreditation, and training that will enable them to meet the economic needs of the local communities. Through the eSgoil National Training Programme and funding from SDS we continue to provide a robust model of training, providing equality of provision across the islands. 

This revised approach to apprenticeships undertaken by the Comhairle has made it possible for the team to explore new and innovative approaches to meet local and national workforce planning requirements. 

Having amended the delivery model to meet the ever changing needs of the local community, the Accredited Training and Skills Team along with e-Sgoil (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) are offering their expertise on a national level.  The Foundation Apprenticeship in Business, Creative Digital Skills, Social Care and Child Care are being offered nationally in both English and Gàidhlig.

Gàidhlig Language Implementation Fund (GLAIF)

The Comhairle has a strong Gàidhlig corporate identity.  As a bilingual authority it is important that all apprentices and programme participants have an understanding of the Gàidhlig language and are given the opportunity and support to progress and upskill through the medium of Gàidhlig.

Through the Comhairle’s Gàidhlig Language Plan we aim to enhance the status of Gàidhlig by promoting and encouraging the use of the Gàidhlig language.  Through the GLIAF funding the Comhairle has embedded the Gàidhlig offer through the acquisition and learning being embedded into the delivery model of all programmes.

Through the GLIAF funding the Comhairle has implemented the above aim and has now enhanced the Gàidhlig Tuition offer within all programmes, both within the Comhairle and the community at large.

This tuition provides participants with the skills to use the Gàidhlig Language in everyday written and verbal communication.   

Through initial assessment the apprentices are signposted to the correct tuition:

Beginners, provides apprentices with the basic skills that will strengthen their everyday use of the Gàidhlig Language in their work environment.

Intermediate, provide those who lack confidence to strengthen their written and verbal skills and apply this to their work environment.

Fluent, provide support to ensure apprentices can use both their verbal and written skills at a high level.