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Covid-19 forces CalMac to abandon 2020 apprenticeship intake

The Covid-19 emergency has forced ferry operator CalMac to defer its 2020 intake of Modern Apprentices (MAs).

CalMac had been planning to recruit 20 MAs into Deck, Engine and Hospitality roles this year, but the process has now been postponed until next year.

'We have considered a full range of options to continue with recruitment but it is with regret none of them are practical. Our current intake of Modern Apprentices is currently stood down from physical duties on full pay, and continuing to study online at home which will add on an extra six months to their training. If we simply postponed recruitment until later in the year we would be out of sync with our training partner City of Glasgow College's curriculum, we also do not have the capacity to have two sets of MAs working with us at the same time,' said CalMac's Director of HR, Christine Roberts.

The company currently has 21 MAs in training who combine classroom study with time at sea and will qualify with appropriate SQA qualifications. The company had already received around 450 applications for this year's intake.  

'All applicants will automatically be considered again next year and have the opportunity to update their application with any relevant experience gained in the meantime,' said Christine.

CalMac has employed more than 100 MAs since introducing the programme five years ago. It takes a year for Hospitality apprentices to be fully trained for their role as a Senior Catering Rating. For the Deck and Engine apprentices, it takes approximately 18 months to be fully trained as Navigational Watch Rating or Engine Room Watch Rating and another 18 months to become a fully qualified Able Seafarer.

'Our MA programme is a key part of our talent pipeline making sure we are training the next generation of seafarers. We continue to be 100% committed to delivering this, but unfortunately under the current crisis circumstances we will not be able to progress the programme this year, our priority has to be ensuring our current MAs are fully supported,' added Christine.

'We do not underestimate the value the communities we support place on these opportunities and this is not a decision we have taken lightly.'

For next year's intake CalMac is planning to expand its MA programme to include more shore side roles.

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