Media Release: Upcoming conference – building a strong, skilled and diverse workforce for Scotland


JIM McColl’s new junior college will be “the first of many similar ventures across Scotland” and provides “a glimpse of the future” for the education sector, the entrepreneur has claimed.

The Clyde Blowers tycoon will outline his vision for Newlands Junior College, which he established last year, at a skills conference in Edinburgh next week.

This independent vocational school on Glasgow’s south side has the backing of the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council and was set up to help 14-16 year-olds gain practical experience before entering the world of work.

In an article published ahead of the conference, McColl said: “With a renewed focus on skills and vocational training to help tackle high levels of youth unemployment, there has never been a better time for such a place.

“I think we’re seeing a glimpse of the future. I’m confident this will be the first of many similar ventures throughout Scotland that will ultimately share an ambition to make a difference for our young people.”

McColl speaks at the conference, The Apprentice: building a strong, skilled and diverse workforce for Scotland, which takes place next Tuesday [May 19th] during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

John Lochrie, operations director for British Gas’ HomeCare Services, whose Scottish Gas arm is sponsoring the event, said: “Apprentices are central to a strong, highly-skilled and diverse workforce.

“At Scottish Gas, we’re committed to providing our apprentices with skills and experiences for life, and the opportunity for a successful and fulfilling career.

“Our apprenticeship schemes benefit not just the career prospects of young people, but our communities and the wider the economy too.”

Linda Urquhart, chair of law firm, Morton Fraser and Investors in People Scotland, will address the diversity agenda at the conference – and the need for basic workplace skills.

“Some of the support that makes a successful transition into early employment is very much about the little things,” she said.

“Does someone clearly explain the culture of the particular workplace a young person is joining and what’s expected of them?

“It’s about turning up on time, turning up every day, making medical and dental appointments outside working hours where possible, helping your fellow employees, being nice to customers, not using your mobile phone during working hours.”

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham, will also speak at the event on ‘Modern skills for a modern Scotland’, along with Marion Beattie, of Skills Development Scotland, and representatives from the college and school sectors.

Tommy Laughlin will speak about the IT and digital skills gap for trade body, ScotlandIS.

He said: “We’re looking for many more people to join the industry through modern apprenticeships, from college and university and by changing career.

“Currently, about 3-4,000 people start new careers in the industry each year – but that’s not even half the people we need so closing the skills gap is a major challenge.”

* The Apprentice: building a strong skilled and diverse workforce for Scotland is at The National Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh, on the morning of Tuesday 19th May.
If you wish to attend, please contact Rebecca Thompson on or 0131 311 7237.

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Contact: Rebecca Thompson
Phone: 0131 3117237