SEVENTEEN apprentices have been told 'you're hired' by Inverclyde Council.

Another batch of young people have joined the local authority's successful modern apprenticeship (MA) programme, working across a range of departments.

The scheme allows participants to work and get paid while they work towards qualifications in their chosen fields.

Among the 17 new recruits in 2018 are Greenock pair Sophie McKee, 20, who is a trainee auditor, and 18-year-old Kevin McCole, an apprentice in the education services department.

They were welcomed on board by MA graduate Ryan Harper, 22, who successfully completed an vehicle mechanic course and has now been taken on full-time at the council's Pottery Street depot.

The former Port High pupil joined straight from school at the age of 18 and says it was one of the best decisions he has ever made.

Ryan said: "I got a full-time job a couple of months ago having completed my apprenticeship. "I've had lots of help and it was good to get kept on. "I got extra support like being put through my HGV driving, which wasn't part of my apprenticeship but the council managed to get me through it.

"It's been great, I've thoroughly enjoyed it."

New-start Sophie had been training to become a hairdresser but felt it wasn't right for her and she is now thrilled with her council role.

She said: "I wanted a change of career path and this is a great opportunity for training and to gain a qualification while on the job.

"I've adapted quite quickly and it's been really interesting learning lots of different things you would never have known about had it not been for this."

Council colleague Kevin is also enjoying the experience so far.

The former St Columba's High pupil said: "It's been great. "Everybody is so welcoming and helps you fit right in. "The fact that you get a qualification at the end of it is appealing.

"I enjoy it, which is the main thing."

The 17 new apprentices are working across departments including business and administration, childcare, customer service, waste management and legal.

Two of them are also working in life sciences at Inverclyde Academy and Clydeview.

Over the past five years, 51 have secured full-time jobs after completing their training and another seven have gone on to further education.

Councillor Michael McCormick, convener of environment and regeneration, said: "The council has committed significant funds to youth employability schemes over the years and our modern apprenticeship scheme has proved to be a fantastic way to develop expertise and knowledge through on-the-job training.

"It is also an opportunity to gain vital skills in areas such as teamwork and problem solving and is of real benefit to local young people and local employers."