Nothing can hold you back

Toni Durning at the SQA offices
Toni Durning at the SQA offices

Cumbernauld teenager Toni Durning wants to spread the word that apprenticeships are an option for everyone, whatever their background.

The 17-year-old shared her story during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging more employers to take on apprentices organised by Skills Development Scotland.

At the age of five Toni was taken into care with her three brothers. She had a stable upbringing, thanks to loving foster parents, but still worried future employers would judge her on her start in life.

Charity Who Cares? Scotland, pointed Toni towards a Modern Apprenticeship opportunity in administration and IT with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

She said: “Due to my background, I didn’t think I’d be very successful. Before, I was very shy – I wouldn’t speak to anyone. For me to be here – I never would have thought it would be possible.”

Modern Apprenticeships give people over the age of 16 the opportunity to work, earn and learn in a full-time job. Toni is studying towards an HNC in IT and administration at Glasgow Kelvin College while working full-time at SQA.

She said: “I’ve become a lot more mature. I can manage my money by myself, pay for things by myself. The apprenticeship has made me feel confident because of all the things I have to do on a day-to-day basis. It’s making me feel like my background won’t affect any jobs that I want to go for.”