Birkenhead man cruises into a new career with Mersey Ferries

Mihai Muntean is 41 and lives in Birkenhead. In September 2023, Mihai became Mersey Ferries’ oldest apprentice, as he embarked on a three-year Marine Engineering apprenticeship and snapped up a second chance at a career on the water.  

Mihai’s career began at an early age. At 18, he was enrolled in National Service in Romania and, while his preference was to join the Navy, that wasn’t meant to be.

Instead, he learnt the basics of mechanics and left after his service to work in a car body shop. With the call of the sea ringing in his ears, he knew he should make a career change and enrolled in college where he learnt the skills needed to become a Bridge Officer.

Upon completion of his qualification, he set out for cruise ships and led a great life at sea, working on the bridge of various cruise liners while seeing the world, port by port, and climbing the ranks to First Officer.  

Cruise ships didn’t just bring Mihai the skills he needed to sail a ship, it is also where he met his wife and made the decision to move to Wirral and start a family.

However, before he could get back out to sea, Mihai had an accident that meant he would never be able to sail again and would have to give up the job he loved. This is when he discovered the Mersey Ferries.  

Applying for a summer job to learn more about the ferries and see if this would be something he could enjoy, Mihai was delighted when he was offered a permanent role. And, given his skills and experience, it wasn’t long before he was offered the opportunity of an apprenticeship.

Due to his injuries, he would no longer be able to work on the bridge. However, he found a renewed use for his mechanical training and was delighted this could be the very thing to get him back on the water. In September 2023, he began his apprenticeship as a Marine Engineer and is excited about what this new career has in store.  

For five months each year, until 2026, Mihai will be at college in Fleetwood, and for the remainder of the year, he will be back on the water helping to keep the Mersey Ferries running through the busy summer months and putting his new skills to good use.

From September 2026, presuming all goes to plan, Mihai will be a qualified Level 3 Marine Engineer and will be able to spend the remainder of his career working with the Mersey Ferries, carrying out routine maintenance on the existing vessels and being part of the crew that gets the new vessel onto the Mersey.

Mihai has been given a second chance at a new career doing something he loves, and he couldn’t be happier.  

When asked what starting an apprenticeship in your forties was like, Mihai offered the following wise words of wisdom, “Starting again is always going to be challenging, but it is also very rewarding. I am being given the chance at a new and unexpected career, one that keeps me on the water and working for an organisation that is full of history.

“I’m also surrounding myself with new people who get to share their experience with me and offer me a new perspective on life. I’m grateful there are so many varied apprenticeships available within the organisation; I never knew this would be an option for me and I wouldn’t have had this chance had it not been for the apprenticeship scheme.

“I would recommend apprenticeships to everyone – you get to learn a job while being able to use the skills right away, it’s something not every career path can offer you. It’s a great way to find a career you enjoy.”

Mihai has been offered his apprenticeship as part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority programme. Working with Mersey Ferries is just one of the opportunities available, there are several more, along with a variety of potential roles available to people from all backgrounds. T

o find out more about apprenticeships and the ways in which you can apply, please visit: Home Page – BeMore (lcrbemore.co.uk)  

Lead image: Mihai Muntean

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