My Column

Could Brexit see boom in apprentices.

  • Date: Monday 4th March 2019
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For most of the population, the biggest threat to their job security is a boss who walks quietly.

Joking aside, it was wonderful to see confirmation that Scottish unemployment hit a new low at the end of 2018 amid a record-breaking performance.

The Office for National Statistics released data recently revealing that the rate of unemployment had lessened to 3.5 per cent between October and December last year. So too was a new record set for the number of people in employment here in Scotland.

And this was all hot on the heels of news that there had been a higher than expected retail sales jump in January across the UK, with winter discounts proving popular among shoppers.

Normally, this would be cause for celebration, but how can we forget the elephant in the room?

With the Brexit deadline looming fast, we’re living through unprecedented times, and our economic future is plagued by uncertainty.

Indeed, some firms are battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst.  The UK’s largest protective packaging distributor, Glasgow-based Macfarlane Group has just confirmed that it has put contingency plans in place to continue to serve its customers in the event of no deal being struck by the official deadline.

And in a bid to offer additional support to SMEs and corporate clients, banking giant Barclays announced that it would be hosting a series of clinics for Scottish business this month.

However, with a new government report suggesting crashing out of the EU could spell recession north of the border and the loss of up to 100,000 jobs, what we all really need is an answer to the trillion dollar question - deal or no deal?   

Hot on the heels of this doom and gloom report comes National Apprenticeship Week, which kicks off over the next five days. So what does Brexit mean for our young apprentices?

With a final YouGov poll before the Brexit referendum showing that 72 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds backed a Remain vote, with just 19 per cent backing Brexit, it’s not just businesses that are plagued by unwelcome uncertainty at this time.

On one hand we are being told that businesses are becoming wary of investing in apprenticeships when the effect of Brexit is not yet known. On the other, there will be an apprenticeship jobs boom as firms struggle to find qualified replacements for EU migrants who have left the UK since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

In Government figures released last week, the so called ‘Brexodus’ is well and truly on as the number of EU migrants working in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 2009.

In turn, with fewer EU workers available, could this boost demand for British apprentices looking to replace departing workers? Businesses and the public sector appear to be searching closer to home to fill vacancies

The annual National Apprenticeship Week looks to highlight the commitment of businesses who have decided to invest in the skills of their workforce, along with providing more opportunities for those looking to train, gain skills and work towards a new career.


It’s certainly an initiative that I am fully behind and it’s great to see so many Scottish companies across all types of industry get involved. However, I hope they properly invest and commit to what is a highly cost-effective way to deliver a loyal and skilled workforce.

Not only will it provide an insurance policy for those companies who rely on a skilled migrant workforce, we may see even further new records set for employment here in Scotland.



I was shocked to hear the announcement that 36 breakfast shows were being axed across the Global Radio Network to make way for London-led national shows for Capital, Heart and Smooth.

The changes will come into effect by the end of the year, with cuts also being made to drive time shows later in the year too.

The aim it seems is for Global to be a bigger competitor for BBC Radio shows, but I can't help feel that in order to do this, they've taken something cherished from the people of Scotland.

Replacing local voices with London-based presenters will be a real loss to communities across the country.

We like to hear familiar voices read local stories about our communities, businesses, political fortunes, sporting achievements, and more. This includes everything from traffic updates on our morning commute, to the chance of sharing funny stories that are distinct to the area.

I’d predict that these audiences may well migrate to regional shows on the Bauer Network to get more localised content.

It wasn't that long ago that STV local channels were restructured, which led to the loss of several regional shows.

Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom as to counter this, BBC Scotland launched a new dedicated channel. It reportedly secured an impressive audience of 770,000 for opening night.

The new channel is set to feature hundreds of hours of newly-commissioned programmes including entertainment programme The Edit, news round-up The Nine, regional documentaries on 'real' people across Scotland, and of course the final series of Still Game.

With the launch of this channel and the opening of a Channel 4 creative hub in the heart of Glasgow, here's hoping it’s a sign of positive change to come for the media industry in Scotland.



I had to have a double-take when I read that Aberdeen City Council was planning to patch up cracks in buildings and walls across the city centre with Lego bricks.

Turns out that this is all in the name of art.

Artist Jan Vormann was the first to be announced for Nuart Festival in Aberdeen – an annual event where local and international artists create striking street art murals and structures.

Festival organisers recently issued a call out to generous building owners for walls that could act as blank canvases to showcase work ahead of the event in April.

The Lego brickwork certainly caught my eye and got me thinking that maybe we could commission the artist to patch up the rising number of potholes across Scottish roads.



It was disappointing to hear that more than 100,000 pupils are estimated to be missing out on music tuition in Scotland.

It was only weeks ago that the Scottish Parliament’s education committee recommended music tuition should be free for all pupils in Scotland, and this latest report fuels that argument.

A report commissioned by the Music Education Partnership Group and Creative Scotland, placed blame on the shortage of qualified tutors and staff alongside the rising fees. It showed that average music tuition fees had more than doubled since 2003-04 from £102 to £220.

Music is often the first department hit by cuts but music education has been widely reported as highly beneficial to young people so here’s hoping they can rectify the decline and offer support to the industry.







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