Shipyard's first woman worker

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The Independent Online
One of Britain's most respected ship repair centres has broken with its macho traditions and taken its first woman on board. Claire Goss O'Connor, 17, is the first female apprentice to be taken on at the A&P Tyne ship repair yard on the River Tyne.

The former South Tyneside College student is one of 26 apprentices. She will spend four years training to be an electrical fitter.

Yesterday she said she was excited at the prospect of working on the complex electrical systems of some of the world's most sophisticated vessels. "The course is excellent - broad-based and comprehensive enough to give me a solid grounding in the maritime engineering business. I'm delighted to be here and determined to succeed".

Managing director Barry Johnson said: "It is somewhat embarrassing to realise that Claire is the first female ship repair apprentice on the river but everything has to start somewhere.

"I am convinced she will find her apprenticeship both challenging and rewarding and that she has what it takes to make a positive contribution to our business in the medium term".

Claire is among 49 apprentices joining firms on the Tyne this year. Mr Johnson said: "We have to make up for lost time. Apprenticeship schemes died out during the bad times of the early 1990s.

"We now have to invest in our future"