The SNP politician was guest at a ceremony at Cochran Boilers at Newbie, Annan, to mark the successful completion of their training by seven craft apprentices, who have been offered permanent posts by the company as fully fledged tradesmen.
Ms McAlpine praised the achievement of the long-established engineering firm which was founded in 1878 and based near Annan since the beginning of the last century.
She revealed a personal interest in the industry as her father had been an engineer in ship-building on the Lower Clyde and her daughter had also pursued a career in engineering.
Ms McAlpine, a journalist before entering Parliament, quipped: “I must be letting the family down by breaking the tradition and becoming a politician instead.”
She spoke of the importance of apprenticeships in an increasingly valued engineering and manufacturing sector and the fact they had long been encouraged at Cochrans.
Ms McAlpine stated that apprenticeships were an excellent alternative to some of the unnecessary degree courses run in the past by universities.
Cochrans currently has 12 craft apprentices at various stages of their training and is currently assessing their requirements for another intake.
They also have engineering apprentices in departments, including the drawing office.
The MSP, who on a previous visit toured the works with former First Minister Alex Salmond, presented the seven who had completed their apprenticeship with certificates and gifts from the company.
Manufacturing manager James Lynn told the newly qualified craftsmen, including welders, fitters, platers and a pipe fitter, that they could potentially through their efforts follow a career path to senior posts in the company.
He later explained that apart from10 years when Cochran was part of the Rolls-Royce group, the company had always trained apprentices with some progressing internally to senior management roles.
Mr Lynn said: “We always have a high level of skills in the works and we have found apprenticeships are an excellent way of passing on those skills to the next generation of engineers.
“In our rural location it is better to train internally than bring in skills from other organisations in other parts of the country.”
He added that they worked closely with Dumfries and Galloway College and Carlisle-based private engineering training organisation Gen2.
PICTURE shows, left to right: Sean Tremble, Jack Taylor, Thomas Thompson, James Lynn (Manufacturing Manager), Michael Young, Joan McAlpine MSP, Mark Anderson, Jordan Adams, Mark Wilkinson