Apprenticeships: A Cost Effective way for Businesses to Expand and Upskill Published on 14th May 2024

Farr North Community Development Trust and Caithness Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to reach out to businesses in the northern Highlands to raise awareness of opportunities for receiving support when hiring apprentices.

The Farr North Apprenticeship Scheme is managed by the Trust and is supported by a grant of around £100,000 from the SSE Renewables Strathy North Community Fund.  The scheme offers eligible businesses up to £15,000 over a three-year period towards the costs associated with employing and training an apprentice.  In some cases this can be combined with the Caithness Business Fund to bring the overall level of support to over £24,000.

Apprenticeships provide a cost-effective way to upskill and expand the workforce. Taking on an apprentice can be a smart investment, benefiting both the business and the local skills base.  But as a business in the north, where do you begin?

A good place to start would be Caithness Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber offers a huge range of help and advice to businesses across the north (not just in Caithness!) and they have links and contacts with agencies that could help you.  Through this network the Chamber can help you to decide if an apprenticeship would be right for your business, help to identify suitable training opportunities for your apprentice and help you find the right person for your company.

Find out more on about The Farr North Apprenticeship Scheme on the Caithness Business Fund website.

David Shearer, SSE Renewables Community Investment Manager commented:

“Investing in young people is a particular focus for our community funds and we have a number of apprenticeship programmes available in Sutherland.  The apprenticeship programmes ensure that there are viable employment opportunities to retain young people in the local area and also helps to ensure that the local economy benefits from thriving local businesses.”

Simon Lee, Manager of Farr North Community Development Trust commented:

“Farr North is working to develop vibrant and resilient communities.  We are delighted to be able to work with the other SSE apprenticeship programmes in Sutherland and working with Caithness Chamber of Commerce brings even more opportunities to support local businesses, develop workforce skills, and encourage our young people to stay in the area.”


GMG Energy and Finlay Mackay Modern Engineering Apprentice.

Nestling in the Strath of the river Halladale, GMG Energy is an ambitious timber processing company established by Malcolm Morrison in 2016.

Finlay began his apprenticeship with the company in 2022 whilst studying at the Engineering Maintenance framework at UHI.  He is now working towards his SVQ3 work-based qualification.  Malcolm is delighted with his apprentice:

“He’s a bright kid, learns quickly and is a great asset to the company.” He enthused recently.

Finlay is equally enthusiastic about the experience:

“I feel I’ve really landed on my feet.  GMG Energy has given me a huge range of opportunities to apply the knowledge I get from college.  I’m gaining experience, I’m learning and I’m earning!  What could be better?”

Businesses in the region have opportunities to thrive by investing wisely, upskilling their workforce, and embracing apprenticeships. It’s heartening to see the positive impact on both businesses and individuals

Written by

Caithness Business Fund
Naver Business Centre, Naver House, Naver Road, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7QA

Registered in Scotland: SC450693

T: 01847 500104

Design by Navertech