Modern apprentices who live and work in Edinburgh were part of a national campaign to encourage more employers to take on apprentices and more young people to consider work-based learning.
It was organised by Skills Development Scotland to highligh the benefits for businesses that have decided to invest in the skills of their employees.
One of the stories involved, Erin De Groome, who has revealed how a love and talent for art and many childhood visits to Rosslyn Chapel have led her to a career in stonemasonry.
Erin had considered becoming a marine biologist while she was a pupil at James Gillespie’s High School but changed her mind.
She said: “I also considered becoming an artist but felt that didn’t offer realistic long-term prospects. I have always done a lot of sculpting and went to Rosslyn Chapel with my mum lots of time when I was young, so I thought about stonemasonry.”
She found out about apprenticeship opportunities at St Mary’s Cathedral in Palmerston Place and began her four-year training last August.
Erin, who is 19, finds her job very satisfying. She has been making practice cuttings, moulding and defining pieces.
“You spend ages working on something which will be used on a building and you know it is going to be there long after you’re gone. There is something quite special about that,” she said.
She has been assured by industry experts that her skills will always be in demand. “I am getting the chance to get trained while I am earning and getting hands-on skills rather than going to university and maybe building up lots of debts before looking for a job.”
Ideally, Erin would like to become a specialist stone carver in the future so she could combine her love of Gothic buildings, gargoyles and her masonry skills.
Erin’s supervisor and trainer, workshop foreman Andrew Ramsay, said: “Not only is Erin a talented and artistic stone carver, she also has a great sense of humour and adds much to everyday life in the workshop. The feedback we receive from Edinburgh College is first rate.”
Businesses in Scotland employed a record number of apprentices last year as more than 25,500 young people got the chance to work, learn and earn. New Foundation apprenticeships mean young people can now start a modern apprenticeship at school while graduate level apprenticeships provide employees with work-based learning opportunities to degree level.
Skills Development Scotland chief executive, Damien Yeates, said: “We want businesses and individuals to know that apprenticeships are changing. They are designed by employers for employers and provide the talent they want for the growth they need to develop their workforce.”