WIRRAL shipping company Cammell Laird has taken on 18 new apprentices just in time for Christmas.

The scheme, which will take the total number of apprentices to 64 out of a 750-strong workforce, will see the new starters being taught in partnership with Maritime and Engineering College North West (MECNW).

Among those signing up are five pipe fitters, four mechanical fitters and nine boiler makers.

And Cammell laird HR manager Danny Hart said it was important to help to secure the futures of local young people.

He said: “It is terrific to see young people from the area come into the firm with a real passion for engineering and desire to learn. We have a structured apprenticeship programme which sees learning take place both in MECNW and also, when the apprentices are ready, in Cammell Laird itself.

“In MECNW the apprentices have access to tremendous facilities and industry experienced tutors, and have a number of experienced mentors employed by Cammell Laird to guide them.  In the yard we operate a buddy system for apprentices to learn with other experienced workers. But the message we want to get out to schools and local families is that Cammell Laird can provide career opportunities for people of all academic backgrounds.

“We are looking for skilled tradesmen and women and also the managers and senior managers of the future. These are glittering job opportunities and we urge young people thinking about their careers to think engineering.”

The Birkenhead-based firm has seen 32 apprentices graduate into full-time employment over the last four years.

And chief executive John Syvret said he is now ensuring workers have “transferrable skills.”

He said:  “Our core focus now is to ensure our workforce has transferable engineering skills. The apprentices are fundamental to this. They are our future, the present management are only the custodians of the Cammell Laird name. We believe we must diversify if we are to fulfil the enormous potential of the business, our workforce and our facilities.

“That means we will continue our marine work but we are also actively targeting new sectors. We see the horizon illuminated by the energy sector – offshore renewables, civil nuclear and the oil and gas industry.  These are multi billion pound industries which present massive opportunities.

“That is what we are targeting and we are working hard to ensure our workforce has the skills to work across these sectors. We very much welcome our new apprentices and wish them long and successful careers.”