More apprentice places to be created in Scotland
More than 3,500 new-style apprenticeship places have been announced for Scotland.
The places are intended to provide educational qualifications and workplace training for senior school pupils and potential graduates.
They are in addition to the modern apprentice programme, which supported more than 26,000 people last year.
Skills Development Scotland said work-based learning was vital for Scotland's future prosperity.
Jobs agency SDS said it was supporting 2,600 foundation apprenticeships for pupils and more than 900 graduate apprenticeships in 2018.
The programme are backed by employers, universities, colleges and schools across the country.
The foundation scheme aims to give work skills training for fifth and sixth year school pupils alongside academic qualifications such as Highers.
The graduate scheme does the same for older entrants studying up to masters level.
Diane Greenlees, head of foundation and graduate apprenticeships at Skills Development Scotland, said apprenticeships were essential for the Scottish economy.
"Over the next 10 years we are facing significant and rapid technological change across all our growth sectors, along with global competition," she said.
"Young people now need to have a different set of skills and qualifications to help them succeed in the workplace.
"All our apprenticeships are designed to make sure these young people have skills, experience and the confidence and competence to succeed in the world of work much quicker."
The new apprenticeships are funded by the Scottish government and the European Social Fund.
Scottish Water has more than 145 apprentices on its workforce and sees this as an integral part of its future business plan.
Paul Campbell from Scottish Water said the scheme was a solution to the company's workforce demographic.
"We have an ageing workforce so apprentices are a big part of our talent pipeline," he said.
"Graduate level apprenticeships allow us to invest in people who may have been working longer, in their careers."
Declan Royle from Bishopbriggs is a 16-year-old foundation apprentice with Scottish Water. He is still at school but in the second year of the scheme.
He said it had allowed him to get a glimpse of his future.
"This course has given me an insight into seeing what I want to do when I am older, what sector of engineering I want to go into," he said.
"It has helped me get in the door with a company and a possible modern apprenticeship and then full-time work."