The Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative – Glasgow City Council

Posted on 29th April, 2014

The Commonwealth Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) is one of Glasgow City Council’s leading 2014 Legacy projects and was introduced in 2009 following Glasgow’s successful bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. When introduced the Leader of Glasgow City Council (GCC) gave a commitment to expand long-term careers opportunities for young people in the city.

The key driver for CAI was to create a lasting Legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games for young people in Glasgow.

The rationale was simple – limit and reduce youth unemployment in Glasgow by encouraging new employment and partnerships with Glasgow businesses, in turn creating apprenticeship opportunities for young people to enhance their life chances at the transition from leaving school.

Stakeholder Groups & Programme Delivery

This programme has two main stakeholder groups:

  • Glasgow businesses; mainly SMEs reluctant to recruit in a challenging economic climate
  • Glasgow school pupils thinking of leaving school, seeking a modern apprenticeship.  To qualify for CAI, candidates must live within the GCC boundary or attend a Glasgow school and be eligible to leave school.

To plan the delivery process, a number of elements were considered:

1)    Engaging with the various client cohorts each year

2)    Engaging with businesses to increase the number and range of apprenticeship opportunities

3)    Developing an exciting range of incentives to encourage business participation, including a wage incentive of up to £8000 dependant on the type/duration of apprenticeship

4)    Designing a suitable recruitment and selection system

5)    Increasing the number and range of available apprenticeship opportunities in GCC (and its ALEO’s) and ensure they were linked to workforce planning

6)    Ensure sound financial governance and value for money

Programme delivery is based on a demand and supply model i.e. facilitating demand from employers for new workers and ensuring a work ready supply of clients to meet this demand.The process for both employers and Glasgow school leavers has been designed to be simple but effective whilst avoiding red-tape. The process for employers is outlined below:


  • Initial discussion with Business Engagement Officer to discuss vacancy, client fit, appropriate training requirements, wage rates, recruitment timetable and financial assistance available
  • Resultant vacancy advertised on dedicated CAI web page and through partners
  • CAI Team handle applications, short listing, interview prep, associated admin communication tasks
  • Grant award process completed upon successful recruitment
  • Claim grant 13 weeks in arrears on submission of wage confirmation to evidence grant claim


In order to meet the demand in apprenticeships good relations with Glasgow schools is required. This has been achieved through regular partnership meetings, attendance at all information events held in schools for Senior pupils, on site visits, effective communications between the CAI team and GCC Education Services, and effective communication with young people via email, social media, broadcast texting and the dedicated website.

The process for school pupils is outlined below:

o   Register on CAI website –

o   If eligible receive a unique username and password which enables access the vacancies page on website,  (if not eligible they are invited to contact the Team to find out why and what other options could be available to them)

o   Clients submit an online application for each vacancy they wish to be considered for

o   Assistance is offered with application and interview prep via one-to-one meeting, group sessions, telephone etc. Progress is tracked via CAI website

o   Communication about interview includes email, phone call and text reminder


CAI is unique as no other local authority delivers employment programmes of the same scale or with similar partnership arrangements with the business community. CAI offers a free recruitment service to businesses across Glasgow, primarily SMEs.

This programme has a number of unique features:

o   GCC offers companies a financial incentive to offset initial wage costs of employment. This proved crucial in encouraging small employers to invest at a time when order books are not full. CAI is assisting Glasgow’s businesses to invest in their future workforce now, providing much needed employment and training opportunities for young people in Glasgow.

o   An IT system that has been designed to join up all information about client, employer, vacancy and finance. Assisting in achieving the best outcome for both employer and client. Ensuring that any financial incentive can be monitored for good financial governance and ultimately value for money.

o   Communicates with young people through an easy to use website, broadcast texting, email and social media – a quick and effective way to ensure clients get important messages about vacancies, events etc – and they can’t claim they got lost in the post!

o   Special consideration for groups facing additional barriers – i.e. care leavers, young parents, young people leaving ASL schools

o   The CAI Team has worked with policy makers in GCC to maximise the job outcomes from the available budget


Since its inception in 2009, CAI has assisted over 3109 Glasgow school leavers to make a positive transition from school to sustainable employment. This employment with training provides these young people with skills and qualifications to enhance their career prospects; provide them with an employment history and ultimately add to Glasgow’s and Scotland’s economy.

Glasgow is the only major city in the UK where youth unemployment fell between 2010 and 2012 and this is attributed in part to CAI.  CAI is also impacting across the private sector in Glasgow and now works in partnership with XXXX private sector businesses with a continual increase in business enquiries, recruitment and vacancies from 2009.

The CAI Team have helped thousands of young Glasgow residents find employment by providing a platform for success. Each of these successes is testament to the hard-work and commitment of these young people in shaping their future.

Following CAI’s success, the Leader of Glasgow City Council has committed to the continuation of the initiative to 2017-18 financial year where it will be considered again in the next council administration. This emphasises GCC’s commitment in investing in its young and the positive impact CAI has had on Glasgow’s people and economy.

The success of this programme is measured with the success of Glasgow’s young people and the growth and satisfaction of CAI’s partner businesses, as the undernoted testimonies demonstrate:

Young people like Cameron Hughes:

Glasgow CAI image cameron hughes






Cameron joined CAI as he was looking to expand his options upon leaving school. He had applied to several universities to study Accountancy, however the apprenticeship route was more appealing as he was offered the opportunity to gain valuable work experience whilst working towards the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification. Cameron currently works with Glasgow Accoutancy firm Martin Aitken.

Young people like Finulla McClosky:

Glasgow CAI image finulla mcclosky






Finulla joined CAI after she had taken part in her school’s Pre-Vocational Programme in Horticulture/Rural Skills. An apprenticeship became an obvious choice for Finulla as this would enable her to continue to work outdoors whilst working towards a Vocational Qualification.

Working with Glasgow City Council’s Land and Environmental Services (LES), Finulla has been based in Daldowie Training Centre as well as working in a number of Glasgow parks.

The continued support from private sector employers also emphasizes the success of CAI and how beneficial this has been to Glasgow’s economy. The CAI Team encourages employer feedback; here are some examples;

“The Initiatives Team were knowledgeable, approachable and professional in their dealings with us, and we found that the whole process was much quicker (and easier) than we anticipated.” EKOS Ltd

“We look forward to using the Commonwealth Initiatives in any future vacancies we create, to allow us to expand and grow further.” Weldsafe Ltd

What can others learn from your work?

The above information demonstrates the Initiative is both unique and innovative.  CAI has exceeded all expectations with the initial target set by the Leader to assist 1000 young people into apprenticeships.  Having now assisted over 3000 young people into employment the Initiative has also assisted National Governments strategy to reduce Youth Unemployment and has helped Glasgow become the only major City to report a reduction in Youth unemployment for the period 2010-2012.  The Initiative also helped business growth by encouraging employers to recruit at a time when the order books were low, by the offer of financial assistance to aid the wage bill.

CAI continue to improve what they do by regular liaison with their stakeholders, particularly businesses and the young people and now boast a unique website which is extremely user friendly which the young people find straightforward to access and exploit apprenticeship opportunities available to them.

Following the success of CAI, and based on the same principles three additional employment funds have been added to the CAI repertoire including

Commonwealth Jobs Fund – offers employment opportunities to long term unemployed, aged 18-24years and those 50+

Commonwealth Graduate Fund – assists newly qualified Glasgow Graduates into graduate employment

Commonwealth Youth Fund – assists young unemployed people who fail to meet CAI criteria into employment.

With some financial input, these Initiatives could be replicated throughout all Local Authorities.

To discuss this case study please contact Shona Honeyman at [email protected]