Trio hope for awards

An Aberdeenshire marine engineering firm and a North-east travel agent have been chosen as finalists in Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Awards.

ACE Winches is a contender in the Skills Development Scotland Award’s category to find Scotland’s best large employer for companies who employ more than 250 people.

In 2009 the company won the Modern Apprenticeship Award for medium sized businesses when it had a workforce of 80.

Now, ACE Winches has over 260 workers and around a fifth are Modern Apprentices.

The Turiff company is a global leader in the design, manufacture and hire of winches, marine deck machinery and hire personnel for the oil, gas, marine and renewable energies industries.

Their employee Gavin Buchan (21), recently qualified as a machinist and is a finalist in the Construction and Production Apprentice of the Year category for under 25s.

A former Fraserburgh Academy pupil, Gavin had started a college course when he went to a careers fair and was introduced to ACE Winches.

Gavin, from New Aberdour, felt a Modern Apprenticeship would enhance his career opportunities and joined the company as a machining apprentice in January 2009.

He is now mentoring other apprentices at the Towie Barclay Works and is working towards more engineering qualifications. Gavin is a recruitment ambassador for his company and often visits local schools to talk to pupils about Modern Apprenticeships.

Peterhead travel shop manager Georgina Robinson is a finalist in the Service Apprentice of the Year for under 25s. Georgina, 22, joined travel giants Thomson in 2009 after working in a shop, as a waitress and as a nursery nurse.

She regularly exceeded her sales targets and was made assistant manager of the Marischal Street shop while she was still a travel services Modern Apprentice.

Georgina achieved 100% pass rates in online exams and has taken every opportunity to improve her knowledge and performance with training courses on everything from customer service to financial controls.