Apprentices mark milestone for training

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As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, two of CalMac’s trainees from Uist have told of their experiences as part of the company’s apprenticeship courses.

The two young women – Megan MacDonald from Drimsdale on South Uist and Kathleen MacDonald from Knockintorran on North Uist – both gained hard-fought places in different disciplines.

Both attended a meeting with CalMac’s managing director Martin Dorchester and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan at the company’s headquarters in Gourock, to tell more about their experiences as part of the schemes.

Having recently completed her apprenticeship in engineering, 20-year-old Megan is now employed full-time as a motorman, otherwise known as engine watch rating, on board MV Hebridean Isles, which usually serves the Kennacraig to Islay route alongside MV Finlaggan.

She has been with CalMac for two years.

And, while Megan is now embarking full-time on what she hopes will be a long and rewarding career with CalMac, Kathleen is just beginning her particular adventure.

She is one of the brand new hospitality with maritime enhancements apprentices – coincidentally along with Megan’s sister Katie – and is excited to be the first to do the new course.

In addition to everything that a hospitality apprentice would learn, the maritime version also includes all the basic seamanship qualifications which are earned by those participating in both the deck and engineering courses.

Kathleen, who now lives in Yoker in Glasgow, spent some time working at the SEC in Glasgow, before returning home to work at a local restaurant – The Stepping Stone in Balivanich, where she had also worked for five years previously, 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 – 85 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.