Although there are differences between Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland and Apprenticeships across the rest of the United Kingdom, the key to success still lies in effective partnerships between employers and training providers. Here, we see how Glasgow College is working with a major ferry operator to ensure long-term success.

A guiding theme of the City of Glasgow College’s Learning and Teaching Strategy is the College’s Industry Academy Model. It recognises the need for closer alignment between educational provision and employer needs. The Model ensures the College delivers an employability focused curriculum addressing the skills and knowledge that employers need while supporting learners into employment.  

Research from the Merchant Navy Training Board and the Rail Maritime Transport Union (2014) highlighted the issue of the current ageing workforce working aboard UK ships. Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), identified this as an issue for their succession planning and future service provision, and partnered with the College to address identified skills gaps and support a talent pipeline to the industry.

The College’s is the only Scottish training provider to be able to deliver all maritime and hospitality training under one roof. It has met CalMac’s need for cost-efficient localised training. As the only college in Scotland to offer an innovative Modern Apprenticeship* route in Deck, Engine and Hospitalitythese programmes are the first of their kind enhancing the maritime skills base in Scotland and offering a pipeline of new talent.

Donald McKillop, Retail Development Manager, CalMac said “... the Modern Apprenticeships are a welcome and valuable addition to our available training opportunities for young people”.  

Through collaborative engagement the College and CalMac have ensured the combination of theory and practical delivery meets CalMac’s skills needs, while ensuring a commitment to student progression and development. This collaboration also ensures a seamless college and seagoing learning experience with assessors going aboard vessels to observe the apprentices in their working environment. Apprentices are equipped with a range of academic and professional qualifications to start them on a career route to more senior roles as their skills and experience develop. 

As a result of the apprenticeship programme CalMac gains a pipeline of competent, motivated staff in full-time employment who have been recruited from the communities Calmac serves and trained in Scotland. With a rise in the popularity of cruise ships, pleasure boating charter fleets and ferries around the UK's coast the programmes provide a particular and valuable niche to a growing industry. 

* Modern Apprenticeships apply to Scotland only, but are the equivalent of Apprenticeships in the rest of the United Kingdom.

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