UKMPG’s members are intensely committed to providing development opportunities and continuously improving the general level of skills in the ports sector. Skills development programmes include provision for the organisation’s existing staff, such as the Port of London Authority’s “Our PLA” initiative which provides training for all employees who wish to improve their skills as well as opportunities to job shadow in other areas of the business or take part in an external peer coaching programme.
There are also initiatives aimed at introducing maritime careers to the next generation and enabling those who need jobs to develop maritime skills. An excellent example of this type of initiative is the work being done at PD Ports in Teesside, which works with local schools to provide careers presentations, port tours and trips on the river as well as work experience. They also run a career day for armed forces leavers, and work through the charitable foundation they co-founded with other businesses on the River Tees, the High Tide Foundation, to provide cadetships and summer training for young people, plus pre-employment training and an apprenticeship scheme designed to get long-term unemployed people back to work.
At Peel Ports, investment in employee training has included setting up a bespoke Managing Terminal Performance course, devised by leading industry specialists and academics over 3 years, from which over 60 employees have now graduated. Their apprenticeship scheme, which includes apprenticeships in mechanical and electrical engineering, has recently been expanded – the apprentices even have the opportunity to take part in the Apprentice Ship Cup, a Tall Ships race where apprentices from a variety of businesses compete to sail tall ships around the UK coast and across the Irish Sea.