07 Mar Teenager Alana McFarlane has gone from shy schoolgirl to aspiring engineer thanks to a Foundation Apprenticeship
Finding a way to bridge the gender gap in science, technologies and engineering industries is one of the biggest equality challenges facing modern Scotland.
Female students and workers are massively under represented in the STEM sectors and there are initiatives under way across the country to encourage interest in the subjects among girls and young women.
But Scots teenager Alana McFarlane is ahead of the curve and excited about building her career, thanks to a new apprenticeship which she said has changed her life.
The 16-year-old is taking part in a special Foundation Apprenticeship scheme in engineering, which she studies and takes part in alongside her regular fifth year subjects at Kirkintilloch High School near Glasgow.
She said: “I was really excited when I got accepted onto the Foundation Apprenticeship. I was nervous too, though because I’m not used to being around new people.
“The apprenticeship has helped boost my confidence with people. I’m a really shy, quiet person. Working with new people and getting to do stuff on my own has really helped me.”
The schemes are open to pupils in S5 and S6, and combine college-style learning with a significant work placement.
Pupils can opt to take the apprenticeship as one of their subject choices, resulting in a qualification at the same level as a Higher at the end of two years.
Alana spends two afternoons a week at City of Glasgow College’s state of the art Riverside campus and is gaining hands-on experience in the workshop, learning how to read technical drawings, cut metal and operate industry-standard machinery.
An employer placement, in her sixth year, is the next step.
Alana said she loves the hands-on nature of the engineering course.
She added: “You get more experience with a Foundation Apprenticeship than other school subjects.
“When you get your placement in the second year, you get a taste of what a job in engineering would be like.”