When Dean McGibban left school, he decided that the best thing for him to do was to learn a trade. He secured his place on a scheme; he worked hard and began his career. But something did not quite feel right, and last year with his interest in welding ever strong he decided to go back to the start and join Harland & Wolff’s apprenticeship scheme in September 2023.

When speaking about why he chose Harland & Wolff, Dean explained: “For me, it was an absolute no brainer. The company’s history speaks for itself, being local and growing up on stories about the yard and seeing the iconic cranes also added to my interest in joining and once I started I was full of pride.

“The history of the projects that have been worked on in the yard coupled with the healthy pipeline of work in the future also helped convince me to apply.  The future of the company is looking bright and to be a part of that will no doubt come with its own rewards.”

Dean, like all apprentices in Belfast, is learning his trade under the watchful eyes of Brian Walsh. A fellow welding enthusiast – Dean describes the trade as Brian’s ‘baby’. He went on to praise the teaching style of Brian and the other mentors, stating: “The management team let us make our own mistakes, and then they teach us that there is a better way to do things.”

Looking ahead, Dean is excited at the prospect of completing his apprenticeship and being able to work on the FSS project. That contract alone has unlocked £77m of public and private investment for the company and is expected to create 1,200 jobs across Harland & Wolff’s Belfast and Appledore shipyards.

Dean has also encouraged the eldest of his three children to consider learning a trade and added that she should not be shy about that trade being within shipbuilding.