Fiona Hyslop makes virtual visit to young workers at Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow)

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Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture meets new apprentices as record number (25) embark on programme at shipyard

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, Fiona Hyslop, paid a virtual visit to Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) yesterday to meet its latest cohort of apprentices, set to embark on the three-year course this week.

As part of its mission to invest in the long-term future and sustainability of the yard, Ferguson awarded a record number of 25 young people with modern apprenticeships this year across a variety of trades including fabrication, welding, mechanical engineering and technical support.

Four new apprentices were at the Port Glasgow yard to meet Fiona Hyslop via a video link. Lewis Emerson (21), Beth Atkinson (25), James McEwan (17) and Marley Weir (18), shared their hopes and ambitions for their future careers with the Cabinet Secretary.

Working in partnership with West College Scotland, Ferguson gives young people the opportunity to gain an academic understanding of their work in the classroom while combining it with the practical experience of one-to-one mentoring within the shipyard setting.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, Fiona Hyslop, commented: “It was great to meet the new apprentices at Fergusons and hear about their plans for the future.

“The achievements of people like Michael Sinclair – who earned a first class honours degree in Engineering Design and Manufacturing through Skills Development Scotland’s graduate level apprenticeship scheme after joining Fergusons as a Fabricator – show the success of these schemes and the power of learning while you earn. It was a pleasure to present Michael with his degree certificate and I wish all of this year’s intake the best of luck for their careers.”

Tim Hair, Turnaround Director at Ferguson Marine, commented: “These are uncertain times for school leavers, so it is more important than ever before to help young people into jobs. Our apprenticeship programme not only benefits each individual enrolled but also helps secure the long-term future of the yard by creating a young team of successors capable of taking the business forward.”

Career progression is plain sailing for former apprentice as he rises through the ranks

Michael Sinclair (25), who started a Ferguson modern apprenticeship in 2012 in fabrication, also met the Cabinet Secretary, who congratulated him on achieving his recent first-class honours degree. Obtained via Skills Development Scotland’s new graduate level apprenticeship at the University of the West of Scotland, Michael achieved the top grade of his year and was the first person from Inverclyde to complete the degree in engineering, design and manufacturing.

Michael commented: “Shipbuilding has always been a dream career for me. Both my dad and my uncle worked for Ferguson so you could even say it’s in the blood. After leaving school at 17, I came straight to Ferguson to start on the modern apprenticeship programme and I’ve been given the opportunity to work in almost every part of the business, from fabrication to structural draughting, while studying at the same time. I didn’t think I would be smart enough to complete a degree so to come out as top of the class has been incredible and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve it without the support from Ferguson. It was disappointing not to be able to attend a graduation ceremony this year due to Covid-19, but to have the Cabinet Secretary congratulate me was definitely a bonus.”

After completing his degree while simultaneously working full-time, Michael is now a Project Manager, responsible for the delivery of the Inverlussa workboats.

Tim Hair added: “Michael is a shining example of the success that can be achieved through our apprenticeship programme and we are all incredibly proud of his achievements.

“Having identified an aging profile within our established workforce, the apprenticeship programme allows our young recruits to tap into their existing wealth of experience while we can also tailor the learning as part of our work to ensure we have tradespeople to meet the business requirements of the future.

“It was a real coup for our apprentices and Michael to be able to chat to the Cabinet Secretary about their ambitions for the future and we look forward to seeing their careers flourish.”


Issued by Clark Communications on behalf of Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Ltd. 

For further information, contact:

Angela Hughes: 07970 184 198

Heather Peebles: 07921 687 626

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