(Photograph) - Scotland has a new educational champion - Sam Bain (left) of GE Caledonian at Prestwick, which refurbishes jet engines.
Mr Bain, who has been training manager with the company for more than 20 years, was selected for his work promoting Higher National qualifications, in collaboration with Kilmarnock College.
The announcement was made last week at Hampden Park, which played host to a "heroes and champions" reception to mark the 80th anniversary of HN qualifications. The award was presented by Allan Wilson, Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning.
Mr Bain's nomination by Kilmarnock College described him as "a driving force in the development of a skilled workforce within the sector, GE Caledonian and the Ayrshire community".
The training programme at the Prestwick plant has seen hundreds of employees achieve HN qualifications, and many have moved on to degree programmes and management positions. Some 35,000 candidates now take HN qualifications in more than 60 centres across Scotland. There are around 130 national courses and others are developed by colleges themselves.
The existence of HN qualifications, accessible outwith the university sector, is the main reason why Scotland has been able to overtake the target of having 50 per cent of young people in higher education.
Tony Jakimciw, chair of the FE principals' forum, described the history of HNs as "a major success story".