A Sign of the Times

Two South Lanarkshire Signmakers have become the first people in the country to complete a Modern Apprenticeship in their trade. Signmaking is an important sector within the Scottish economy. Presently there are over 250 companies in this sector and almost every town and city has at least one Signmaking company.

 The two trailblazing apprentices who have just completed are Kirsty Donald of OPG Ltd and Andrew Halliday of Ecosse Signs Ltd. Kirsty has been employed at OPG since 2011 and during her apprenticeship she was, and continues to be a key member of two departments within OPG splitting her time between the design and digital print functions. This means that she very often works on jobs from start to finish, having been involved in the design aspect and the production process. The knowledge and experience Kirsty gains as a result of this provides a major contribution to the most vital areas of the OPG business on daily basis.

 Andrew has also been employed by Ecosse Signs since 2011 and has been involved in the full range of work undertaken by Ecosse including Commercial vehicle graphics, vehicle wrap, vehicle signs, digital printed banners, customised car decals, van graphic. He has proved to be an invaluable member of the team and is capable of taking all jobs from design through to completion.

 Both Apprentices have been supported during their apprenticeship by the staff at East Kilbride Group Training Association (EKGTA) and in particular their Assessor Drew Alexander. Over the last three years Drew has seen both apprentices flourish and mature into key members of staff for their respective companies. He commented that “it is very rewarding working with young people and to see them develop and become vital to the companies that employ them”. He added “the drive and enthusiasm shown by both Kirsty and Andrew is a credit to not only themselves, but also their companies and their parents”. Modern Signmaking I firmly believe that both will go on to play a significant role within their respective companies over the coming years.

 Both companies state that the support provided by EKGTA means that they can concentrate on the business while EKGTA facilitates the MA programme. The structured on the job approach provides a tailored training environment where the apprentices quickly gain an understanding of not only their role, but of their contribution to the business as a whole. This allows for some quick gains as they become effective members of staff. Stuart Ritchie Commercial Operations Manager at OPG commented “customers are encouraged and comforted by the fact that our staff are working towards a recognised qualification.” Tom Thomson Owner of Ecosse Signs Ltd stated “we firmly belief that our Business is strengthened by offering our team the chance to gain nationally recognised qualifications”.

 To mark this historic event a presentation took place at the EKGTA Training Centre in East Kilbride. Local MSP Linda Fabianni presented the Apprenticeship Completion certificates to both Kirsty and Andrew; she congratulated both apprentices on their achievement and paid tribute to OPG Ltd and Ecosse Signs Ltd commenting “the support of companies in offering Modern Apprenticeships is vital to the Scottish Economy and the continuing development of our talented young people”.

Tom McBrearty General Manager at EKGTA added “We would also like to thank both companies and in particular the Managers of the apprentices, namely Stuart Ritchie of OPG and Tom Thomson of Ecosse Signs without their support, and the commitment of the apprentices this would not have been possible”. “We would also like to thank the external agencies, Skills Development Scotland, Sector Skills Council Cogent and Awarding Body PAA\VQ-SET for their continued assistance the delivery of apprenticeship programmes”

Left to Right, Drew Alexander EKGTA Assessor, MSP Linda Fabianni, Kirsty Donald Apprentice and Stuart Ritchie Operations Manager OPG Ltd

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Left to Right, Tom Thomson Owner Ecosse Signs, MSP Linda Fabianni, Andrew Halliday Ecosse Apprentice and Drew Alexander EKGTA Assessor

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MSP Linda Fabianni presenting Andrew with his certificate

Modern Signmaking

MSP Linda Fabianni presenting Kirsty with her certificate Modern Signmaking