The Covid-19 emergency has forced Scottish ferry operator CalMac to defer its 2020 intake of modern apprentices (MAs).
CalMac said that it had been planning to recruit 20 MAs into deck, engine and hospitality roles this year, but the process has now been postponed until 2021.
“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 MAs 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,” explained CalMac’s HR Director, 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.
CalMac said that it 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,” Roberts said.
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 about 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,’ she added. “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 said it was planning to expand its MA programme to include more shoreside roles.
The Scottish West Coast and islands operator also announced that its Essential Lifeline Timetable would be extended to at least 7th May in line with government lockdown guidelines.