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About the Scottish Parliament

Our apprentices' stories

Hear from some of our former apprentices about:

  • their experience of the programme
  • the permanent roles they have moved into in Parliament
  • their future career plans

Apprentice stories

Tom's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Tom

When I was at school, teachers considered me an academic learner, although all the subjects I excelled at were subjects that had a practical element to them. Following school, I went on to study a degree in politics and journalism and quickly realised that the learning style wasn’t for me. It was more reading, and a lot less doing. So, the opportunity to work and learn at the same time was something I couldn’t pass up so found myself applying for a modern apprenticeship here at the Scottish Parliament.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

I’ve always wanted to work in the Parliament. It’s such an exciting place, with lots going on all the time, so I saw the modern apprenticeship as the ideal opportunity to achieve that while learning and developing my skills. I believe apprenticeships provide a lot more valuable learning than you get from a traditional course, so it was a no brainer for me.

Do you have any future aspirations?

I've now progressed on to a graduate apprenticeship in software engineering at Napier University. Once I've graduated I hope to move onto more specialised further education that will help me develop my skillset even further and open up new possibilities within my career.

Tiegan's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Tiegan

I started as a Business and Administration apprentice in August 2017. During my apprenticeship I worked in the Information Management and Governance team and have now secured myself a permanent post.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

When I was at school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I felt like there was so much pressure for young people to either study at college or university. I had never thought about a modern apprenticeship until my school’s career adviser recommended looking into it. When I saw this programme advertised I knew that I definitely had to apply. The Parliament is an amazing place and I thought getting an opportunity like that at 17 was incredible.

How have you benefited from your apprenticeship?

I have benefited from my apprenticeship in many ways. I have managed to gain a recognisable qualification alongside learning new skills. I am definitely more confident and have all the vital key skills to contribute to an effective team.

What's been your greatest achievement?

Being offered a full time post with the Parliament has been my greatest achievement ever and this is something I will always be proud of.

Sinita's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Sinita

The 2things I believe in life are opportunities and having a positive mind-set even when things never went the way I planned.  An apprenticeship in the Scottish Parliament was something I was determined to get and work hard for, knowing that I would be up against many people who would have more qualifications and more knowledge than myself.  Just goes to show hard work pays off and opportunities do arise. 

Why did you choose an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

I knew if there was one place I could gain skills and build my confidence it would be somewhere that’s in the public eye. I knew it would be a great place to get involved for career opportunities in the future. I knew that the Scottish Parliament would test me in all ways possible, and would only improve my existing skills for the better. 

What’s a typical day like for you?

Every day is like no other, we can only predict what may happen. In the Chamber office where I work we have briefs ready; however, anything can affect business in the Chamber which affects us in the office. A typical day for me is coming into the office ready for questions and motions to be processed and publishing reports online. 

How have you benefited from your apprenticeship?

Through the apprenticeship, I managed to gain a qualification as well as learning new skills and improving my current skills. I even managed to get a permanent job working in Chamber office, which is one of the core offices here at the centre of parliamentary business.

What has been your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement has been winning a young role model award in November 2016. Never did I imagine I would win an award, all thanks to the Scottish Parliament for recognising my hard work and putting my name forward.

Mamz, Michael and Erin's stories

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Mamz

Hear from Mamz, Michael and Erin about their experience as apprentices in the Scottish Parliament.

 

Colleen's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Colleen

I left school when I was 16 and have had a few full-time jobs before I worked here at the Parliament. During my apprenticeship I worked in the Chamber Office and the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

I found myself stuck in a job which I knew was not the career path I wanted to go down. I always loved the idea of gaining a recognised qualification to put on my CV whilst working and earning money. The one thing about the Business and Administration apprenticeship at the Parliament which stood out to me was that there were no restrictions on who could apply for this. I did not need to have certain qualifications which is the case with a lot of business and admin apprenticeships in other organisations.

What's a typical day like?

When I worked in the Chamber Office, a typical day for me included attending meetings in the Chamber, finalising minutes of the Chamber and publishing these on our Parliament website. When I worked in the Economy committee, a typical day in the office for me included inviting witnesses to come to the Parliament and speak to our members and greeting the witnesses when they arrived for the Committee meeting. I also helped arrange events which took place outside of the Parliament. 

What's been your highlight?

The highlight for me so far has been learning the ins and outs of how the Parliament works. Being able to complete my apprenticeship alongside the other apprentices made me feel a lot more relaxed about working in the Parliament and the staff are so welcoming and helpful.

 

James' story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice James

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

In my last year at school I had to decide what to do after I left. I went to college, but I quickly realised it wasn’t for me and I was unsure what the next steps in my career path would be. 

Around this time it was the lead up to the independence referendum. Everyone in Scotland appeared to be speaking about it. While volunteering with a youth work charity, I was engaging with a variety of different people and we were having the same conversation. I soon realised that I could talk to people from all walks of life about such a serious issue and sometimes the people I was talking to suggested I should think about something with a public dimension as a career prospect. After the referendum was over and everything went back to normal I began to think about what people were saying to me about what to do with my career.

I haven't had the most academic background and the thought of the Parliament or politics was never a realistic prospect in my mind. That changed following the referendum when I received an email with a link to the launch of the Parliament’s apprenticeship programme. I was unsure what my chances were,  but I thought I'd read it anyway out of curiosity. When I read the website and watched all of the videos it was almost a lightbulb moment because I then believed that I was capable of doing the programme.

What's a typical day like for you?

A typical day in the legal office is different because you can’t fully plan your working day or week. Most of my duties are to support the office manager, the group head and the solicitors. I ensure that they have copies of previous Bills, subordinate legislation and the Parliament’s Standing Orders. Part of my role is to process and record Scottish Statutory Instruments and Bills that are laid before the Parliament. A large part of my day is taken up maintaining the group head’s mailbox and her busy diary while also dealing with phone calls.

What’s been the highlight so far?

I have 3! The first is that I actually applied to the apprenticeship programme to begin with. I was very happy to see my application progress from submitting it all the way to being invited to the interview stage and then ultimately being successful.

My second was a project organised by HR where we were split into teams and had to come up with an idea to improve an aspect of the Parliament. It was very satisfying to see that the Parliament chose to implement our idea.

The third was completing my apprenticeship. Being offered a full time post with the Parliament has been the biggest achievement of my life to date. It has also enabled me to progress as a person outside of work. For example, I have now moved from Glasgow, which required a commute of more than two hours every day to work, to staying in Leith in Edinburgh. To others this may not seem like such a big step but for me, being from a council scheme in Glasgow, it has always been an underlying desire to move and secure a full time post. The apprenticeship programme has really given me the backing to achieve this.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

Do it, because I almost never applied and I’m now writing this in a permanent post with the Parliament, which I never ever thought would have been possible!  I also think that employers are moving beyond a focus on purely academic credentials. It’s not just about how many Highers or degrees you have or what you have on paper - it’s about you as a person and whether you’re capable of doing the job and have a willingness to learn.

Alanis' story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Alanis

I began my apprenticeship at the Parliament in 2015 when I was 17. I’m now working as an assistant clerk in the committee office. Since 2015, I have had a variety of roles and 2 promotions!  These have included:

  • administrative assistant to one of the Parliament’s group heads
  • administrator to an engagement team
  • events officer in the events and exhibitions team

It has been an excellent experience working across different departments in the Parliament and I would never have expected to be in this position at such a young age.

What attracted you to an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

In school I felt as though there was an expectation from both my teachers and friends for me to apply to university. However, this didn’t feel like the right path for me. The stigma of going somewhere other than university did worry me but I could see how much of a unique opportunity the apprenticeship was and that there’s much more to it than people think. I could see that having the chance to start my career, earn my own money and gain my Level 3 SVQ all at once would put me in a great position after leaving school.

What kind of projects have you been involved in?

In my previous role as an event officer, I worked on the Parliament's 20th anniversary programme in 2019. I organised a number of events to mark 20 years since the Parliament opened. One of our key events was Scotland’s Women Stand, an event designed to increase engagement and participation of women in politics. As the lead event officer, I collaborated with teams across the organisation and worked closely with our partner organisation to bring together all the details for this large event. It was an excellent opportunity to build working relationships with colleagues and problem solve in creative ways. It was one of my toughest challenges but every difficult moment was worth it when we could see everything come together on the day!

What do you get up to in your current role? 

I’m an assistant clerk to the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee. This means that I provide support to MSPs on the committee, the clerk to the committee and witnesses. As part of this, I:

  • produce papers for MSPs to assist them in their scrutiny
  • attend weekly committee meetings
  • write to various public bodies to follow up on evidence sessions

The Committee’s work focuses mostly on audits of public bodies which has expanded my understanding of how our key public services, such as the NHS, operate and manage public finances.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I really enjoy contributing to the work of committees as their work is extremely diverse and each committee is different! I am particularly interested in learning about new subject matter by working in a committee and public engagement which supports this type of work. In the future I’d like to continue to develop my skills in clerking or move to a position that focuses on bringing the views of the public, particularly underrepresented groups, into the work of the committees.

 

Michael's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Michael

I moved to Edinburgh from Caithness aged 18 in 2015 to begin my apprenticeship in customer services. After completing my apprenticeship I secured a permanent post. 3 moves and 2 promotions later, I am now working as an assistant clerk in the committee office, having spent almost 6 years at the Parliament.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

As with many young people finishing high school I was really unsure of what I wanted to do when I left. When I saw the apprenticeship programme advertised, I couldn’t wait to get started on my application. The opportunity to work in such an important building was a really exciting prospect and the chance to learn and gain a qualification from my own working experiences was appealing too. 

The apprenticeship provided me with so many great opportunities and learning experiences. Not only did I complete a qualification, I had the opportunity to work in 4 different public facing roles and got to experience the challenges and excitement that came with working at the heart of Scottish politics. The skills I learned during my apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to go on and work in 3 different teams, 2 of which were promotion roles. 

What do you do in your current role?

I’m currently working as an assistant clerk in the committee office. As I work across 3 different committees the subject matter is really varied and interesting. No 2 weeks are the same. I have responsibility for handling subordinate legislation and on a weekly basis I:

  • draft meeting papers
  • write reports
  • attend virtual meetings of the Committees

I enjoy the fast-paced nature of the work and getting to work so closely with MSPs and the Scottish Government. It is a fulfilling role as I get to play a small (but important!) role in the scrutiny of legislation. 

What about the future?

I really enjoy working at the Parliament due to the important role it plays in the lives of everyone in Scotland – it's great to know you are contributing to that effort. I am looking forward to being back in the building at Holyrood though, when the time comes! 

When I started my apprenticeship it was a 2 year programme, and now nearly 6 years later I am still working here, which is a testament to the effectiveness and success of the programme. The apprenticeship programme gives you opportunities to develop your skills and progress through the organisation and I can’t recommend the it highly enough. 

Kenneth's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Kenneth

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

I chose to do an apprenticeship because it was a great opportunity to start a career in the world of IT. The Parliament offers great benefits to staff, but it was the prestige of working to support somewhere that could affect all the lives in Scotland that really appealed to me.

How have you benefited from your apprenticeship?

My role brings fun and interesting challenges every day and overcoming them brings a great sense of reward. Each gives the chance to expand my skills and knowledge in cutting edge software, as well as legacy technologies. The camaraderie of the staff in the Parliament is great and the environment here pushes you to succeed, but at the same time promoting a healthy work-life balance. 

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I’ve been involved in both minor and major projects, from revamping the old to bringing in the new. Right out of my apprenticeship I got involved in a project to replace old databases (some parliamentary systems were built years ago) with an up-to-date database. This was a rewarding way to flex my newly-learned skills from my apprenticeship.  I recently got the chance to work on a project to deliver case management software to MSPs.  This was a very different kind of challenge with a large focus on directly helping and fixing MSPs' issues with the software.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

My apprenticeship has given me a great entry point into a career as a developer and trained me in the skills to play an important role here at Holyrood. My options and choices have been opened up by working at the Parliament and I hope to become a lead developer one day.

Erin's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Erin

I work as an HR Administrator. I started as a Business Admin apprentice in 2015. Before my apprenticeship I was at college and working part time in a small shop. Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love going on little road trips and to take my dogs for walks in the country, and planning exciting trips away.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

I applied for apprenticeship at the Parliament because there was an opportunity with human resources, which was what I was studying at college. The chance to learn on the job stood out to me the most.  I actually left college to take up the apprenticeship.

From starting at the Parliament as an apprentice to now in a permanent position has been an incredible journey. I enjoyed working with and learning from a variety of different people.

What do you do in your current role?

I deal with a wide range of tasks dealing directly with MSPs, their staff and of course Parliament staff. Every day I come in to a new puzzle to solve.

I have been part of the team running the apprenticeship programme. Having been on the other side of the table I'm now viewing the process from a completely different perspective.

Do you have any future aspirations?

The Parliament is supporting me to go to college in the evening to complete my CIPD professional qualification (on top of the SVQ level 3 I achieved during my apprenticeship).  I hope this will help me continue to develop further up the organisation and explore all the opportunities the Parliament has to offer.

Amy's story

Portrait photograph of Apprentice Amy

I left school at the end of 5th year in 2015 and joined the Scottish Parliament in August that year, doing an apprenticeship in Business and Administration.  Working and being involved in a fantastic organisation such as the Scottish Parliament on a daily basis gave me the encouragement to complete my SVQ qualification.  It inspired me to apply for a permanent post at Holyrood, which I was successful in doing.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

During 5th year I realised it was time for me to leave. Throughout school I never thought about an apprenticeship. The idea of continuing to study at a college or university didn't appeal to me; I wanted something more where I could gain experience, continue to learn, get a qualification and also get a feel for the “world of work”.  Modern studies, politics and business were subjects of interest to me so when I saw an advert for the Parliament’s apprenticeship programme, it was definitely something that appealed to me.

I would highly recommend a Scottish Parliament apprenticeship to anyone interested. It has been an outstanding experience with many incredible opportunities.

What do you do in your current role?

I previously worked in the committee office for 3 years before moving to my current role in the Web and Online project team as a content designer. As part of my role, I have been helping to replace the current Scottish Parliament website with a new modern, user-centred and sustainable online service that meets the needs of the Parliaments' users. This involves working with other Parliament offices to create content and accessible information for the site. One of my key responsibilities has been supporting the content and data transformation processes to ensure essential parliamentary information is published on the new site.

In my role, I have also been given the opportunity to be involved in some project management, testing and business analysis tasks.

Do you have any future aspirations?

I always look forward to further challenges and experiences that come my way. There are many teams and opportunities within the Scottish Parliament which makes me extremely excited for how my career will develop in the future. My recent role has given me an insight to project management and business analysis which I have really enjoyed and hope to secure a role in this field.