Apprentice talent to “fuel change” for a low carbon Scotland

An exciting new national challenge has been launched on Monday 7 September which will enable Modern Apprentices across Scotland to develop innovative low carbon solutions to real issues currently being faced by industry.

The ‘Fuel Change’ challenge will involve apprentices tackling real carbon challenges set by a range of industry partners from the private sector; with five companies already supporting the initiative includingAlexander Dennis Limited, BAM Nuttall, Scottish Power Energy Networks, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and Spirit Aerosystems.

The aim is to hit the target of a low carbon Scotland and create real, practical solutions which can not only be implemented by the partner companies, but potentially be implemented across the world and make a real difference to climate change.

Challenges will be focused around barriers to a low carbon economy or opportunitiesto create a product or service, which could develop a low carbon market offering.

Apprentices will bring a unique practical perspective to solutions, different to many other innovation challenges before, and expert insight into the operations and processes of an organisation and how their ideas could be applied in the real world.

The initiative is being funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland and is being widely backed by Scottish Colleges with four ‘hub’ colleges driving participation and encouraging their partner employers and apprentices to get involved; Forth Valley College, North East Scotland College, Fife College and Ayrshire College.

Up to 40 teams of between four to eight apprentices, either from an individual employer or comprising of individuals from different employers, are expected to participate from all over the country and from a wide range of sectors and industries.

The challenge will take place over a number of months through a series of three to four week ‘sprints’ culminating in a national showcase expected to take place in February 2021 at Forth Valley College’s new £78million Falkirk Campus.

Sprint one will launch on Monday and teams will be asked to explore all the challenges before making a decision in regards to the one they want to take forward.There will also be an opportunity for a second cohort of teams to participate in Sprint one from Monday 21 September.

Sprint two will then take place in November and will be an opportunity for teams to develop their concepts and present their ideas. Sprint three will take place from mid-January and will involve the partner employers working with teams to help them refine their ideas and get them ready for the National Showcase.

The National Showcase will be a gala event attended by the partner organisations where they will consider each submission and select all those which they feel could be taken through to the implementation phase.

The aim is not to find a sole ‘winner’ but to take forward all ideas worthy of implementation, although there will be prizes awarded to successful teams.

Ross Martin, Chair of the Project Board and Chair of Forth Valley College’s Board of Management, said:

“Fuel Change is an exciting initiative which we hope will deliver a number of innovative, practical solutions to real carbon challenges and ultimately help Scotland’s economy to achieve its target of net-zero carbon. “We are at a vital point in time, where it’s now or never, in regards to challenging climate change in a substantive way and making a real difference to our planet.

“We believe our Modern Apprentices should be at the forefront of delivering on this movement. Many will be part of the generation that will inherit the consequences of climate change but they are also an under-used and under-estimated talent pool. The same can be said for Scotland’s college sector who have an excellent reputationfor driving innovation and successful collaboration with industry.

“It’s a unique opportunity for apprentices and a chance to learn, work together and open their mind to new ideas. They really can change the world – and we can help them do it.”

Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal for Forth Valley College, said:

“We’re very much behind this new and exciting challenge and I’m pleased that a number of our apprentices and their employers are taking part. This is an excellent opportunity for them to take everything they’ve learnt so far and apply it in order to tackle real world problems. At Forth Valley College, we believe that these types of challenges are an excellent way to engage learners and ensure they are creative, flexible, resilient and change ready. Fuel Change is not only promoting a sustainable climate but a sustainable workforce of the future.”

Director of Industry and Enterprise Networks at Skills Development Scotland, Gordon McGuinness, said:

“Both the drive for a greener economy and work-based learning are at the forefront of economic recovery plans. “Apprentices bring fresh ideas, creativity and initiative to thousands of businesses across Scotland day-in and day-out, and will bring the same qualities to this initiative.”

Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“I’m delighted we are jointly funding this initiative with our partners Skills Development Scotland. This is an imaginative initiative that meets an important national objective for climate change. The response from both apprentices and industry has been fantastic andI’m really looking forward to seeing how the challenge develops.”