THE latest batch of young apprentices to have served their time at Ferguson Marine have been told, 'You're hired!' as they prepare to embark on their career voyages with the Port Glasgow shipyard.

A total of 15 recruits received their trade papers at a special ceremony attended by economy secretary Derek Mackay in the wake of the Scottish Government stepping in to ensure their futures.

The Beacon Arts Centre provided the backdrop for the event as Mr Mackay ensured them that the yard will now go on to thrive after a troubled time which saw it plunge into administration amid the CalMac ferries crisis.

Ferguson's apprenticeship programme manager Lyn Gordon said: "Seeing these apprentices receive their trade papers is testament to the dedication and commitment that they have applied throughout their three-year apprenticeship.

"When there was a period of uncertainty surrounding the business they could have walked away, but instead they chose to stay and see it through.

"Going forward these 15 new tradespeople will breathe new life into six different trade groups within the business and without a doubt will act as role models for our current apprentices and those who may join the business in the future."

Minister Mr Mackay says the recruitment of the apprentices is a sure sign that the shipyard is now on course for a bold new era.

He told the Tele: "I am delighted to be able to celebrate the achievements of these young apprentices at the start of a bright new future for Ferguson Marine.

"My aim for the past two years has been to complete the [CalMac] vessels, secure the workforce and develop a future for the yard.

"Apprentices have a huge role to play in helping to make this happen and to be part of the yard's future."

Mr Mackay added: "While we continue to work with the administrators to bring the yard into public ownership, work on the vessels is progressing.

"Establishing a revised timetable for the completion of the two ferries also remains one of the main tasks for the management at the shipyard, and we will be able to update further on this shortly."

In a further sign of security for the yard, bosses say that they are are set to begin the next apprentice recruitment drive in the new year.