A NEW generation of sailors are on course for a career that will take them all over the world thanks to a top maritime firm.

Serco Maritime Services at Great Harbour in Greenock has taken on five modern apprentices to become deck hands.

They were delighted to recruit some of their apprentices through Inverclyde Community Development Trust via Skills Development Scotland.

Chris Guthrie, maritime training officer for Serco UK and Europe, said: "It worked extremely well.

"They pre-screened candidates, with the quality of candidates we met being extremely high."

The Tele spoke to pair of local lads who have just embarked on their training with the company.

Jordan Gallacher, 24, from the east end of Greenock, is following in the footsteps of his brother who, having recently completed his apprenticeship with Serco, is now studying for his officer of the watch certificate.

He said: "I'm really grateful to get this apprenticeship.

"It's a chance to see the world."

Port Glasgow apprentice Ross Rodgers, 22, said: "I feel pretty fortunate.

"There are not many apprenticeships going about."

The new recruits started in February at City of Glasgow College where they undertook safety training before joining their first ship.

This will be followed by practical experience over the next two years in 12-week cycles, spending six weeks away on Serco's larger vessels travelling internationally, three weeks locally on the Clyde, followed by three weeks off.

Serco Maritime Services operates at Plymouth, Portsmouth, the Clyde and Kyle of Lochalsh.

The company runs the largest fleet under the UK flag, operating more than 100 vessels supporting the Ministry of Defence.

Additionally Serco manages four nuclear fuel carriers from Barrow in Furness and the five Northlink ferries from Aberdeen.

Former Royal Navy officer Phil Ireland, who is now operations and growth director at Serco Maritime Services, says the company wouldn't be offering apprenticeships if there weren't good prospects at the end of it.

He added: "We have local operations here but there are also opportunities at Kyle of Lochalsh, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

"Two apprentices who finished their time in Plymouth are now working in Faslane as there were vacancies there."

Mr Ireland says there are opportunities for apprentices to travel the world to places such as northern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Americas.

Iain MacLeod, head of operations and a former Merchant Navy captain, said: "We want the apprentices to be the best they can be.

"If they want to progress their careers to captain level the opportunities are there."