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Scottish career changers miss out by dismissing apprenticeships


  • New research from Scottish Gas reveals 85 per cent of Scots mistakenly believe apprenticeships are only for school leavers
  • Almost half wouldn’t consider an apprenticeship as a route to a new career
  • Almost a quarter say they think they’re too old for an apprenticeship
  • During Scottish Apprenticeship Week Scottish Gas is encouraging people of all ages to consider an apprenticeship as a route to a fulfilling career

Discontented workers in Scotland, looking to change careers, could be limiting their options by assuming that apprenticeships are just for school leavers, according to new research released today by Scottish Gas. 

The independent national survey* by Scottish Gas has revealed that 44 per cent of people in Scotland wouldn’t even consider an apprenticeship as a route to beginning a new career. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) believe they are too old.

Only 3 per cent of Scots surveyed thought you could undertake an apprenticeship in your 30s. In fact, almost a third (30%) of current Scottish Gas apprentices are over that age.

Whilst the research highlights out-of-date views as to who can enrol for an apprenticeship, it is clear that people recognise its value. A fifth (19 per cent) of people said that if they had their time again they would definitely do an apprenticeship, whilst a further third said they would seriously consider it.

Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed recognised that an apprenticeship was a great way to start a successful career. 83 per cent of those surveyed appreciated that the main benefit of doing an apprenticeship is learning new skills. More than half (52 per cent) highlighted that the main plus point is learning by doing, rather than from a book. 

Scottish Apprenticeship Week starts today (29 February 2016) – five days of events being staged across the country to showcase what modern apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and the economy.

As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Scottish Gas is seeking to redefine people’s views of apprenticeships by opening the doors of its Hamilton Academy to give people the chance to find out what a modern apprenticeship really involves.

John Lochrie, former Scottish Gas apprentice and now Operations Director for HomeCare Services at Scottish Gas, commented:

“It’s clear from our research that while many people see the value in apprenticeships, they don’t necessarily realise that the training is suitable for everyone of working age – whether that’s a teenage school leaver, a mum wanting to earn while she learns, or someone looking to retrain for a new career later in life. People in Scotland may be limiting their options and not exploring an apprenticeship as a legitimate career route. 

“At Scottish Gas, our apprentices come from all walks of life. Almost a third of them are over the age of 30, and many are career-changers.

“I’d encourage people to shake off the old stereotypes and consider undertaking a modern apprenticeship no matter how old they are. We welcome everyone into the programme and are proud to be an inclusive employer.”

Scottish Gas has hundreds of apprentices in Scotland, investing around £30,000 for each apprentice it trains. The business also has a 95 per cent retention rate for apprentices and is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. 



47-year-old Steve Borland is proof, that there’s never a bad time to start a new career

“When I originally applied I thought age would perhaps be an issue, but since then it hasn’t been mentioned and hasn’t hindered me in any way.”

Steve, who is nearing the end of his year-long apprenticeship as a Service & Repair Engineer, is now in the early stages of his third career after spending 17 years with the Royal Mail and a decade in the sun, working on RAF bases in Cyprus.

The Mancunian spent six years in Cyprus as a gas engineer, but on returning to the UK knew he wanted to add to his experience by brushing up on his skills – and said a Scottish Gas apprenticeship was the perfect way to do it.

He said: “You get the background knowledge while at the academy and throughout the scheme they build on that knowledge with on-the-job experience, where you shadow a qualified engineer. It has been a great balance where we have gone out and put what we have learned into practice.

“It would not work any other way – they can give you all the training you need but it’s a different state of mind when you are in a customer’s home and the focus is on giving that customer the best service you can.”

Steve said he was now looking forward to earning his level four National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) and spending more time with customers in Aberdeen, where he is based.

“The work we do feels especially important in places like Aberdeen, where the weather can be pretty cold and we have a lot of customers who need extra support. It means there is a lot of responsibility associated with our role in making sure we get those boilers fixed quickly and with minimal fuss.

“In future I would like to get back into a managerial role as I have experience of that from my time at the Royal Mail, or perhaps come back to the academy on the training side rather than as an apprentice, and pass on what I have learned.

“For now though, I just want to get out there and do my job to the best of my ability.”

Notes to editors

About Scottish Gas

Scottish Gas employs around 3,000 people across three main sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Uddingston. The company also has an academy in Hamilton to train apprentices and upskill engineers. The company employs around 800 service engineers and approximately 200 smart energy experts (installing smart meters) who visit customers’ homes across Scotland.


*The survey was conducted among 1071 people in Scotland, 570 female and 501 male. The interviews were conducted by Morar Consulting in January & February 2016.


For more information contact:

Catrin Millar

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at

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