Five apprentices at ­Ferguson Shipbuilders have been thrown a lifeline by another firm.

Representatives from Greenock-based Garval Clyde met the youngsters yesterday and offered them jobs at its dry dock/ship repair facility. Michael Milne, who is general manager of Aberdeen-based Dales Marine, said Ferguson going into liquidation was sad for the local economy.

"It is such a shame when a large employer for an area which had staff who took such immense pride in their work and their connection to the Scottish shipbuilding industry, goes into liquidation," he said.

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"At Garval Clyde and Dales Group, we really appreciate our loyal, long-serving staff and we wanted to help some of the Ferguson's workers. They would join our training programme - we spend a lot of time and money ensuring our apprentices get the best training and on-the-job experience. They were very positive about accepting a job and continuing their apprenticeship with Garval Clyde/Dales Group. We will get confirmation in the coming days if they are going to start with us and we sincerely hope they do.

"We are delighted we can offer these hard-working and bright young people a lifeline when the future of Ferguson's is in doubt."

The group operates six dry docks, six repair and conversion yards, as well as one further wet dock, at six sites which are located around Scotland's coastlines.