The first steps to getting local workers back through the gates of Appledore Shipyard begins this week with two careers open days.

New operator Harland & Wolff is hosting two events at the site for prospective employees on Thursday, September 10 and Friday, September 11.

The company says they are being held in readiness for ‘highly anticipated new contracts’ and says they will provide the opportunity to meet and speak with existing Harland & Wolff employees who can share their experiences.

The free events will run from 9am on Thursday and 8am on Friday, until 6pm on both days, with one hour time slots that can be booked via the Harland & Wolff website – details below.

The union Unite said it regarded the careers days as the first step in getting shipbuilding restarted as soon as possible at the renamed Harland and Wolff Appledore – but warned that will also need active involvement from the government.

Appledore shipyard was closed in March 2019 by previous owner Babcock after 164 years, with the loss of about 200 jobs.

Unite regional officer Heathcliffe Pettifer said: “We have had preliminary discussions with the senior management, and hope to have more constructive and meaningful talks with the new owners as soon as possible.

“We want to explore the business plan, what the order book looks like, the workforce that will be required and the skill sets that employees will need. As you will appreciate, all these elements are linked together and require detailed consultation.

“Unite has consistently argued that Appledore is viable and its closure in 2019 was due to a lack of political will and a failure of economic planning.

“Such government inertia can’t be allowed in the future and defence secretary Ben Wallace needs to review current procurement policies to ensure that British ships are built at UK yards. Such policies must include the Fleet Solid Support Ships which are due to go out to tender shortly.”

Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox said and action plan was in motion and the purchase of the yard was an exciting new chapter in its history, which would create hundreds of new jobs in the South West and beyond.

He said: “The shipbuilding industry is an integral part of UK manufacturing, sustaining thousands of high-skilled, well-paid jobs – and it is a central part of Britain’s proud history as a seafaring nation.

“It is critical, therefore, that there is a robust and ambitious plan for the sector, one which sees us designing and building more ships.

““I know that the Government’s Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK Export Finance are already in talks to develop an export action plan, bringing together the DIT Marine, Renewables and Defence teams to provide bespoke support to Appledore, with a focus on offshore wind, ferries and fishing vessels. I will continue to support Infrastrata as they develop their business and realise the Yard’s potential.”

To register an interest to attend the career open days, go to https://www.harland-wolff.com/careersopenday/ .