A LEADING Fife diesel repair company believes apprentices are vital to the future of the industry in Scotland.

Bosses at Patterson Diesel, in Cowdenbeath, are backing Skills Development Scotland's Scottish Apprenticeship Week (May 21st to 25th).

Managing director David Patterson said, "Because we operate in such a specialist market - the repair and maintenance of diesel fuel injection engines - we need highly skilled people who understand the way our company works.

"The answer is to train our own and the Modern Apprenticeship programme, with support from Skills Development Scotland, helps us to do that." Patterson Diesel has taken on a number of MAs in recent years and currently has three undergoing their training at the garage.

"As more experienced staff reach retirement age, it is important to invest in young people entering the industry," added Mr Patterson.

"Our best trainees are enthusiastic, hardworking and are an important part of our team." Pictured is John Mackie (20), from Ballingry, who is nearing completion of his five-year apprenticeship at the firm.

"It has been a great experience and I have learned a lot both at college and hands-on here at the company," said John.

"The mix of theory and practice in an apprenticeship means you get the best of both worlds and can learn while you are actually doing the job." John McClelland, chair of Skills Development Scotland, said, "It has never been more important for businesses across Scotland to grow and develop a skilled workforce.

"Employers can find out how they can access support to help them to employ apprentices by calling our helpline on 0800 783 6000 or going onto our website www.sds.co.uk/modernapprenticeships."