West Lothian teenager named Modern Apprentice of the Year

Daily Record, by Marjorie Kerr
11th November 2019

Teenager Mirhan Smith has been named the top apprentice in her category at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards 2019.

The talented 19-year-old from Livingston was announced as Modern Apprentice of the Year SCQF Level 5, sponsored by College Development Network.

She won the award in front of over 350 apprentices, employers and training providers at the awards at the Caird Hall in Dundee by national skills agency, Skills Development Scotland.

Mirhan works for social enterprise The Larder Cook School, which tries to reach people who are furthest from the jobs market.

Now training to be a commis chef, Mirhan found her hospitality apprenticeship at the Larder Cook School through Skills Development Scotland and has gained experience working at the school’s café in East Calder.

Mirhan said: “I was happy with being nominated and I never thought I would win. To hear it being announced was a surprise and I am still in shock – it feels like a dream and that I am going to wake up any minute.

“The best part of my apprenticeship is everyone I work with. They are just like my family. I want to say a massive thank you to my employers. I will never been able to return what they have given to me. Mirhan said: “To anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship, I would say to go into it headfirst, they won’t regret it. When you do an apprenticeship, you get your foot in the door.

“Since starting my apprenticeship, I have gone from feeling I was at ground level to the very top in terms of my mental health and my confidence. Now I can talk to anyone on the spot, without being scared or feeling like I was going to cry. It has been a life-changing experience.”

Operational head chef for The Larder Café, Chris Stewart, said: “Mirhan is extremely positive and has a ‘can do’ attitude. She faces things head on and does everything 100% per cent. She is different from the very quiet person who started with us. She has increased in positivity, confidence and belief in herself since she started.

“Mirhan takes on responsibilities without being asked. I see a person growing into who they should be and who they could be.”

Training provider Sarah Dalrymple, of SD Consultancy, who nominated Mirhan for the awards, said: “Mirhan has a determination which sets her apart and is developing a set of skills which will stand her in good stead. She has had a lot to deal with and never fails to smile and be friendly.”

Now in its 18th year, the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards bring together apprentices, employers and learning providers to celebrate the contributions apprenticeships make to the economy.

Chair of Skills Development Scotland, Frank Mitchell, said: “More than ever, employers are recognising the benefits of investing in skills and apprenticeships.

“The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards show the value apprentices add to businesses and the economy.

“This year’s fantastic winners and finalists show that apprenticeships provide productivity, diversity, fresh talent, and the right skills for Scotland.

“Congratulations to Mirhan, who is a great example of apprenticeships unlocking potential and changing lives.”

Apprentices and employers from across Scotland were applauded at the event by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, who sent a special filmed message to the finalists.

Mr Swinney said: “The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards showcase the best in work-based learning and the finalists represent tens of thousands of apprentices in training throughout Scotland, each with their own story to share and to be proud of.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet apprentices across Scotland and I’m always greatly impressed by their dedication, commitment and enthusiasm.

“That is why the Scottish Government continues to invest in the development and delivery of apprenticeships, with more opportunities available than ever before.

“Apprentices have continued to make a positive difference to business and to help underpin Scotland’s economic competitiveness by providing us with the skills we need for today and tomorrow.”