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A fleet of young people from across the Highlands are 'welcomed aboard' to CalMac's modern apprenticeship scheme


By Louise Glen

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Graduate apprentice Angus Campbell, from Harris, on board MV Finlaggan with Master Guy Robertson.
Graduate apprentice Angus Campbell, from Harris, on board MV Finlaggan with Master Guy Robertson.

A fleet of young people from across the west coast are celebrating after successfully graduating from the CalMac Modern Apprenticeship Programme.

All 19 graduates have gained full-time permanent positions with the ferry operator after completing the sought-after scheme.

The programme is designed to help young people who are passionate about the maritime sector gain essential qualifications and the experience necessary for a successful career within the sector, and most importantly with CalMac.

CalMac is a recognised leader of seagoing apprenticeships and the Merchant Navy Training Board has named it as one of the top five UK companies for maritime apprentice schemes. A total of 120 young people have been trained through the scheme since its inception in 2013.

This year, the Deck Rating Trainees have all transitioned into permanent roles as Seaman 1b’s, the Engine Rating Trainees into permanent roles as Motormen and the Retail Rating Trainees into permanent roles as Senior Catering Ratings. They are based on vessels across the network and are from places including the Isle of Lewis, Eriskay, Campbeltown, Greenock, Mull, Taynuilt, Coll and Benbecula.

Angus Campbell, a deck rating trainee on MV Lord of the Isles who is from Harris, said: "What I enjoyed most about the scheme was meeting crew whenever I joined a new vessel and listening to their stories. They have taught me so much and I am grateful to them all. Most challenging is definitely starting off the apprenticeship and joining the first vessel. It’s a daunting experience if you’re not used to being away from home for periods of time but everyone makes you feel at home so quickly."

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: "Our Modern Apprenticeship scheme has gone ahead thanks to the commitment and dedication of the apprentices, CalMac managers, crew, mentors, RMT Union partners, apprentice alumni, the City of Glasgow College, and the CalMac Senior Management team.

"The maritime sector can be extremely challenging to break into especially at an early career stage. Our programme provides an opportunity for young people to develop their careers within their communities, gain qualifications and valuable work experience and build a rewarding career.

"We look forward to seeing our new modern apprentices develop in to excellent seafarers. They worked hard to achieve a high standard in their training, and we look forward to developing you further as full crew members in the future."

Minister for transport Graeme Dey MSP added: “I’d like to pass on my congratulations to all the modern apprentices who are graduating from the programme.

“Training the next generation of seafarers is crucial to ensuring our maritime sector maintains its world-class status. It’s particularly pleasing to see young people from islands across the network join the ranks at CalMac to help serve their communities.

“I wish all 19 graduates the best in their careers and look forward to seeing more young people pass through the programme in the future.”

READ: 'Come clean' over Covid impact plea to NHS Highland from Easter Ross mum after son's 11th-hour operation cancellation


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