From the Forces to the Ferries

Luke Gray is an Apprentice Project Manager with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. He currently works as a Vessel Engineer at Mersey Ferries, a role he’s held since 2017 when he decided to move back home to the Wirral and start a family.

Apprenticeships Apprentice Mersey Ferries

Luke Gray, Apprentice Project Manager with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

At 18, Luke signed up to the Royal Navy and began an apprenticeship as a Royal Navy Marine Engineer. Travelling around the world, he managed to complete his Marine Engineering apprenticeship and work as a qualified Marine Engineer before giving it all up for a new role on a shipyard in Lagos Nigeria, where he spent a year maintaining a fleet of passenger and work vessels and learnt more about project managing the maintenance of boats, rather than being at sea.

When it was time to leave, Luke was looking for opportunities to stay in the job he enjoyed, while being close to home and having the chance to start the family he had been dreaming of. His first port of call was Mersey Ferries. He knew of the history of the Ferries and that he would be a fantastic addition to the team with his experience and knowledge of working on older boats. A few months after his application, he began his job of Vessel Engineer aboard the iconic Mersey Ferries.

Seven years after starting his role with Mersey Ferries, Luke was looking for new challenges as his personal life, and two small children, allowed him a little more freedom to explore what the next step in his career would look like. In November 2023, aged 33, he began his Associate Project Manager Level 4 apprenticeship with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

Luke’s apprenticeship will take two years to complete. Upon completion he’ll be a qualified Project Manager and will be able to step into any role accepting applications from new project managers, in any industry. This is made possible through the on-the-job training that he undertakes as part of his apprenticeship; one large part of his learning is to use the skills he’s developing as he acquires them. To do this, he must support on projects across the organisation so he can explore every element of the job he’s training for. With a vast and varied organisation like the Combined Authority, Luke is exposed to lots of roles and scenarios, leaving him with a substantial amount of experience, as well as the formal qualification he’ll gain at the end of his apprenticeship.

November 2025 seems a long time away however, as part of Luke’s apprenticeship he is asked regularly what he plans to do at the end of his apprenticeship so his learning can be supported to get him there. For now, he is hoping to stay where he is and take his well-earned qualification into the future of the Ferries, where he can begin taking part in the maintenance programme and hopefully be part of the team that gets the new Mersey Ferry out on the water.

When asked for his thoughts for anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship, Luke offered some sage words of advice:

“Do it as soon as you can. Starting an apprenticeship and learning again in your thirties is harder that it is when you’ve just left school. That said, if you have the idea that an apprenticeship might be for you, apply. It doesn’t matter how old you are, apprenticeships are open to everyone and give you the chance to learn something new while still working and earning. Apprenticeships have given me a career I love and I’m lucky enough to be working for an organisation that values the benefit of apprenticeships and encourages learning and development for everyone. Look for a business that will support you, it makes changing your career path much easier – having supportive people around you makes all the difference.”

The Liverpool Combined Authority offers apprenticeships throughout the organisation and recruits for these positions regularly. For more information on the apprenticeship schemes available, please visit: Home Page – BeMore (

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