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The apprentice and the future of the ports sector

The apprentice and the future of the ports sector
Sometimes it seems we have been backed into a corner of doom and gloom regarding the lack of skills and lack of interest from young people in the ports sector.

So the news from Bristol Port Company that it has taken on no fewer than 55 new recruits – including 14 apprentices – is definitely worth celebrating. The port, which now employs 550 people directly, says this new influx of people is to help it cope with growing demand. As well as the apprentices, they include general assistants, car trade operatives and warehouse operatives.

“We have been very busy over the past year, so this is the perfect time to expand our workforce,” said chief executive Simon Bird. “I am delighted to welcome this enthusiastic group of new recruits to the company.”

One measure of the port’s recent success is in the motor vehicle sector; car imports and exports have increased by 4% compared to last year, with shortsea imports from Spain and Italy particularly strong.

And there are other apprentice good news stories to be had. Among them – further up the UK’s west coast at Liverpool, Drake Ports Distribution Service, which supplies a range of personnel to the Port of Liverpool’s facilities, has announced a new partnership with Liverpool Community College. Sixty-four Drake staff (37 from the Port of Liverpool and 27 from the Twelve Quays Stena Line terminal at Birkenhead) will be completing their port operative apprenticeships with the college.

They will be trained at the college’s Glaciere Maritime Academy; described as ‘the first of its kind in the UK’, it teaches students “everything from leisure diving to sailing to commercial water qualifications” needed for jobs at sea and in ports.

“We expect to see considerable growth in the port sector in the coming years, particularly as Liverpool establishes itself as an international superport, and the port operatives qualification is a great initiative,” said Chris Symonds, Drake’s manager at Twelve Quays.

“Training schemes like this also will help young people get the skills they need to pursue a career in the port sector and take advantage of the jobs opportunities that will be created.”

And finally – to the northeast, where the Port of Tyne has announced it will more than treble the number of apprenticeships this year. It is recruiting for apprentices across the business, including in administration, accountancy and civil engineering.

“For many years we have had engineering apprentices who have succeeded and gone on to jobs and careers around the world,” said Geoff Gillon, Port of Tyne’s HR director. “We have extended the apprenticeship programme to many other areas. Our first business administration apprentice recently left to take another step on her career in HR, so following that success we’re now delighted to offer more business administration apprenticeships in facilities, HR and engineering, as well as two new apprenticeships in civil engineering and accountancy.”

The Port of Tyne has plans for a £180m expansion, creating 300 jobs – it says the development of the apprenticeship programme is one of the ways it is preparing for this new phase in its history.

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