FIVE new apprentices have started work at A&P Falmouth, underlining the company’s long-term commitment to Cornwall and the future of the dockyard.
The apprentices beat off stiff competition from almost 70 applicants to be awarded the opportunity with A&P, one of the biggest commercial ship repair companies in the UK.
They are electricians and Dave Blizzard, aged 21, from Falmouth and Ben Casley, aged 23, from The Lizard and marine fitters Jordan Moorhouse, aged 19, from Stithians; Daniel Warren, aged 18, from St Keverne and Jamie Pounder, aged 31, from Sennen. They will learn a range of specialist skills in marine mechanical and electrical engineering.
Jamie said: “Before I got this job I was bouncing from building site to building site, with no long-term prospects. Now, thanks to the apprenticeship, I have the chance of a career. I’ve always been interested in learning a trade so this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.”
Ben said: “Finding work these days as a young person is really difficult, so to have a secure job with full training is brilliant. I feel like I’ve got a future ahead of me now.”
Dave said: “We’ve all got stuck into working life and so far have had the chance to work on a range of ships including HMS Mersey, the Torpoint Ferry and the Commodore Clippers. We’re all settling in well at the yard and enjoying the camaraderie it offers.“
A&P Falmouth has invested heavily in training and apprenticeships since 1989 and 120 apprentices have been recruited in four main trade disciplines – marine engineering, electrical, steel fabrication/welding and pipe fabrication/fitting.
In 2007, the company embarked on its first adult training programme with two riggers. Since then a total of 33 adult trainees have undertaken specialist in-house training programmes in engineering, steel and pipe fabrication, rigging and skilled painting, to help maintain the skill base in the company.
Managing director Peter Child said: “Empowering our workforce has always been a priority for us and we are proud of our training programmes. We strongly believe that investing in sustainable, highly skilled jobs is the future for our dockyard and would like to wish our new apprentices the very best of luck as they begin their careers.”
The apprentices were recruited via CornwallCollege (Camborne) and FalmouthMarineSchool and the apprenticeship programme is being delivered in partnership with CornwallCollege. The approach gave local students aged 16-plus a real taste of working life in the marine engineering sector before they decided to apply for an apprenticeship with the industry leader.
HR and Development Manager at A&P Falmouth Paul Kneebone, who started his own career with the company in 1984 as an engineering apprentice, said: “An apprenticeship brings raw potential and talent into the marine engineering industry. We are investing in the next generation so that we can continue to be at the forefront of marine engineering to support commercial and military fleets worldwide.
“The apprentices have a sound foundation in their chosen field after already completing a year at college and we hope they will continue on their career path with us for many more years to come when they qualify.”
Mr Kneebone said the diversity of the activity and the camaraderie among work colleagues is often cited by employees as a reason for their longstanding service with A&P. Sixty per cent of current managers and supervisors at A&P Falmouth started with the company as apprentices. Nearly 30 per cent of our employees have more than 20 years service, and the company is fully committed to building on the marine skill base that has been honed over 150 years of ship repair at Falmouth Docks.”
The launch of the A&P apprenticeship programme was applauded by Nick Williams of the Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter.
Mr Williams, who recently organised an Engineering Careers Fair sponsored by A&P, said: “Engineering has been a lifelong passion of mine and I feel it is really important that young people get to know about the opportunities available to them in engineering. The careers fair we held is the first of many being planned to encourage young people to choose GCSE options which can open doors to engineering training and jobs for them. Overall the aim is to make sure they go on to have fulfilling happy futures. A&P is creating a great pathway for them from school to working life.”