ACE Winches boss calls on industry to invest more in young talent as company expands apprenticeship scheme

ACE Winches Apprentices with Founder and CEO Alfie Cheyne (centre)

SCOTTISH engineering business ACE Winches has called on industry to invest more in training young people as it expands its own apprenticeship scheme.

The Aberdeenshire-based company has welcomed its very first foundation graduate, bringing the number of young people recruited as apprentices to around 300 over the last 30 years.

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And Founder and CEO Alfie Cheyne, a marine engineering apprentice himself when he left school at 16, has called on all industry bosses to recognise the potential and invest in the next generation.

“It’s a changing world and our youth are better equipped than ever to embrace modern technology and apply it to industry,” he said.

“For over 30 years, ACE Winches has been recruiting school leavers and training them through our own award-winning apprenticeship scheme.  As the energy industry evolves, new opportunities are emerging for both businesses and individuals’ careers in conventional energy and renewables.

“Apprentices are our future, but few of the major companies are investing in them in the numbers needed. We have excellent schools and teachers in the north-east of Scotland and beyond, as well as our great colleges and universities, all of whom are preparing our youth for a future in industry.

“My first boss, Andy Kennedy, gave me a chance at Dauntless Engineering in Banff when I left school and I feel I have a responsibility to do the same.”

ACE Winches’s new foundation graduate scheme recruits an individual straight from school to split their time evenly between Robert Gordon University and ACE, completing a Graduate Apprenticeship in BEng (Hons) Engineering: Instrumentation, Measurement & Control in the process.

The latest foundation apprentice joins the company alongside eight new craft modern apprentices, three business modern apprentices and two engineering graduates.

“The addition of a further 14 young people starting off on their journey is an indication of our intention to continue to support the next generation,” said Mr Cheyne.

“Many of our earlier ACE-trained apprentices and engineering graduates are now team leaders and business unit managers across the business. We have to make sure the company has a pipeline of future talent to support our ambitious growth plans. 

“Our offshore service business has grown through our offering of experienced highly skilled multi-disciplined engineers and technicians, bolstered by our business support functions. We have a team of over 200 highly experienced individuals, who take on client challenges and transform them into creative, innovative, world-leading solutions.”

Earlier this year ACE announced the opening of a new hub in the Middle East as part of its global growth strategy, adding to existing physical locations in the US and Norway.

Now in its 31st year of trading and operating in more than 50 countries, ACE works in partnership with clients across the oil and gas, marine, renewable energy and decommissioning industries to provide fully integrated packages for a wide variety of challenges.

The company recently reported strong financial results for last year, enjoying an increase in EBITDA from £7.6 million to £16.1m, with turnover increasing 49% from £28.3m to £42m. 

As well as higher levels of activity in traditional energy markets, ACE also experienced growth in decommissioning activities in Brazil and renewable energy projects in the UK, US, Taiwan and Europe.

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