GREENOCK students have told of their joy at securing new jobs after graduating from a 'life changing' further education course.

They have completed a programme which involves a unique partnership between West College Scotland's Finnart Street campus and AC Whyte, a construction company which delivers major refurbishment and external wall insulation projects throughout the UK.

A number of the students have secured full-time, permanent jobs with AC Whyte.

One of the students, dad-of-four Chris Clamp, from Greenock, says he decided a year ago that it was time to make a big change in his life.

The 36-year-old said: "This is a change of direction for me.

"I was stuck in a job for over 10 years that I didn’t enjoy.

"I want to show my kids it’s never too late to learn something new and love what you do."

His wife Heather added: "It was a scary decision with three kids and another on the way, but it was important that Chris had a career he was passionate about with a real future.

"My son is watching his dad today and can see how happy he is, there’s such a difference in him.

"We are all incredibly proud."

Fellow Greenock student Adam Anderson, 20, says the course has given him a new lease of life.

He said: "I didn’t find school easy but AC Whyte have guided me through the year and helped build my confidence.

"This is literally a new start in life."

Adam's mum Alison added: “Adam was down a dark path and had lost all confidence and just didn’t believe in himself.

"With the support of the AC Whyte team and his fellow students, he has turned his life around.

"I feel like I have my boy back."

Kenny Mearns, 19, from Greenock, signed up for the Skills Academy a year ago after his football career didn't work out.

He said: "It was a harsh reality to accept, but when I heard about the this I knew it was the perfect alternative future.

"I've learned new skills, got a trade and a job at the end of it all."

Dad Josh English, also from Greenock, worked as a labourer in the past but told the Tele he jumped at the opportunity to learn a trade and work towards the guaranteed job with AC Whyte.

The 33-year-old said: “I honestly don’t know how life would have turned out if it were not for this opportunity.

"Chances like this don’t come along very often, it’s great to think I did it and now I work for a company that really look after their staff."

The Greenock students graduated at a special ceremony at AC Whyte’s head office where they received their certificates of achievements.

Senior Scottish Government minister Derek Mackay, who launched the academy back in September, said at the graduation ceremony: “Congratulations on your qualification and I’m enthused to see you have also achieved full time employment with AC Whyte.

"For some of you this is clearly life changing. Having a trade and a skill is hugely important and provides a wealth of opportunity."

Jennifer Phin, the managing director of AC Whyte, said: "Quality workmanship is our legacy, and our people are our strength.

"Creating the Skills Academy was about nurturing the next generation of AC Whyte stars, who will continue that legacy."