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The latest future mariners to be selected for CalMac’s popular Modern Apprenticeship programme have started their maritime journey.

The new recruits who successfully applied for the sought-after scheme are currently training at college in Glasgow before moving onto the fleet’s major vessels for the practical part of their course.

The scheme is designed to help young people who are passionate about the maritime sector gain essential qualifications and the experience necessary for a successful career with CalMac and within the industry. There are currently two options within the programme – Engine Rating and Deck Rating. All apprentices will train and study at the City of Glasgow College, train on the job and gain essential qualifications over a period of 18 months.

This year’s apprentices are from places such as Shawbost, Tarbert, Oban, Greenock, Dunoon and Inverkip.

Cameron Hill, 21 and from Oban, said: “I had heard that CalMac is a great company to work for and I was really pleased to be selected. I am a deck trainee and am really looking forward to going to sea. I would love to work my way up in the company as far as possible.”

Louise Lowrie, aged 17 and a school leaver from Ardbeg on Bute, said: “I applied for the apprenticeship after seeing it advertised on Facebook. Even though I am from an island and see ferries every day, you don’t get to see the in-depth procedures about the way that they work, so I am looking forward to learning more about that. My goal is to become a captain one day.”

Matthew Church is from Shawbost and is an engineering apprentice. He added: “After working as a joinerwhen I left school, I wanted a career change, and was weighing up my options when I applied to CalMac. I have been around CalMac all my life, and I am looking forward to serving the community I live in.”

Alannah Howell from Greenock was already working for CalMac as a port assistant in Gourock, Largs and Wemyss Bay when she decided to try out a career on the water. She said: “I worked with a colleague who was an apprentice and she said it was brilliant. CalMac takes care of staff and want the best for them. I can’t wait to live and work on the sea.”

Upon completion of the programme, apprentices will have an opportunity to transition into permanent roles as Navigational Watch Ratings or Engine Room Watch Ratings on vessels across the network.

Wendy McAnerney, Learning and Development Manager for CalMac, said: “I am delighted to welcome our 2023 intake of apprentices, and I wish them all the very best during their time with CalMac. They will gain valuable work experience, working alongside highly skilled crew members, which will set them up for a career at sea. The programme is a great career development opportunity for young people from our localities, as it also provides new jobs and supports the local economy.”

Photo: Matthew Church from Shawbost in Lewis, and Jacob Johnson from Tarbert, Isle of Harris.