A group of three of CalMac's current 19 apprentices, came together to celebrate a year of notable milestones for the company's training programmes.
CalMac brings all elements of its apprenticeship training to Scotland for the first time
· The company introduces a new course - MA in hospitality with maritime enhancements - the first of its kind in the UK
· For the first time, CalMac has been named by the Merchant Navy Training Board as one of the top five companies in the UK for maritime apprenticeship numbers
· As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, three of the company's trainees - one for each of the available courses - came together to meet Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan and CalMac's managing director Martin Dorchester at the company's HQ in Gourock
As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the young students were joined at the company's Gourock headquarters by Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan, as well as CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester, and other representatives from the company, Skills Development Scotland and City of Glasgow College.
For the first time, the classroom elements of all three of CalMac's modern apprenticeships will be delivered at a Scottish institution - previously the nearest college for the specialist maritime elements was in South Shields on Tyneside.
After a sustained drive by CalMac and close working with City of Glasgow College, this year's intake of apprentices are the first to benefit from study closer to home.
For the 2016-17 intake, the company's apprenticeships on offer rose from two to three with the addition of an MA in hospitality with maritime enhancements - the first course of its kind in the UK. The other two courses are modern apprenticeships in deck and engineering.
Scottish Apprenticeship Week celebrates and highlights achievements and opportunities for young people around the country, as well as recognising employers who enable the training and the benefits such commitment makes to the economy in the short and longer term. The recognition week runs from today (March 6) through to Friday (March 10).
Since 2013, 40 apprentices have been part of CalMac apprenticeships - 90 per cent of those who have qualified have been employed by the company. The schemes have grown significantly in popularity and, in 2016, for the 2016-2017 intake, around 1,200 young people applied for just 30 available positions. The Merchant Navy Training Board - which recognises training programmes for professional mariners - has named CalMac as one of the top five companies in the UK for maritime apprenticeship numbers.
Gathering from all over the network, apprentices Kathleen MacDonald (21) hospitality trainee, from Knockintorran in North Uist, Jamie Humphreys (17) deck trainee, from Dunlop Street, Greenock and Daniel MacIntyre (18) engineering trainee, from Kilmaluag, Isle of Skye chatted to guests about their experiences. Former engineering apprentice Megan MacDonald, 20, of Drimsdale, South Uist - now motorman on MV Hebridean Isles - was also on hand to offer insight as someone who has successfully completed her training.
"It has been a real landmark year for our apprentices," said CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester. "I am extremely proud of the young people who have come up through our apprenticeship training; they are a genuinely strong addition to our teams across the network and have been welcomed by our crews.
"Training young people is both rewarding and makes perfect business sense. I cannot praise our apprentices and the company's learning and development staff enough for the commitment and progress they have made.
"Bringing the classroom element of the courses to Scotland for the first time has been a long-held goal of ours and I'm delighted the partnership with City of Glasgow College has successfully brought this to fruition. The addition of our third apprenticeship and the development of the content for that course, has also benefitted from this close relationship."
Commenting, Stuart McMillan MSP said: "Scottish Apprenticeship Week celebrates and highlights achievements and opportunities for young people around the country, as well as recognising employers who enable the training and the benefits such commitment makes to the economy in the short and longer term.
"CalMac's HQ is obviously based in Inverclyde and the company is a major employer in the area. Since 2014, 40 apprentices have undertaken CalMac apprenticeships - 90 per cent of them have been employed by the company.
"As part of CalMac's winning bid to run the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract they are committed to increasing the numbers of Modern Apprentices they employ. That is great news for Inverclyde as this gives our young people the opportunity to work with a fantastic employer, whilst it also creates a skilled workforce who will make a vital contribution to our nation's economy."
City of Glasgow College Principal and CEO, Paul Little, said that modern apprenticeships were essential to growing a national skills base adding:
"We're delighted to be working in partnership with Caledonian MacBrayne. City of Glasgow Colleges very much values the important role employers play in shaping our educational system to create a talent pool for recruiting the workforce of the future. By linking directly with the maritime industry our college offers a rich blend of personalised learning which not only focuses on the individual needs of our students but in turn makes a vital contribution to our nation's economy."