Transport minister, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon marked the end of National Apprenticeship Week on Friday, 18 March, by presenting eleven Thames apprentices with Maritime Skills Diplomas.
For the apprentices, aged from 18 to 25, the Diplomas are the result of two years’ hard work, gaining experience with passenger and freight operators along the river, alongside day release study with Skills Track at Tilbury. They will complete their training, which the Thames Training Alliance (TTA) ran, by passing Maritime & Coastguard Agency Boatmaster Licence exams.
Speaking at Butlers Wharf on the Thames, just downriver from Tower Bridge, Transport Minister Lord Ahmad said: “An apprenticeship can take you anywhere and these young people know where they’re going: they’re on course for a great career on the Thames. As the transport minister with responsibility for skills, I’m hugely excited by the opportunities that lie ahead for apprentices such as these as use of the river and maritime is set for remarkable growth over the next 20 years.
“A highly skilled workforce is vital if the UK is to remain the world’s premier maritime centre and I commend the work being done to ensure the economic potential of the Thames is being maximised.”
The Thames Vision project, led by the Port of London Authority (PLA), has identified prospects for all aspects of Thames activity to grow – from the port to passenger trips, sports and recreation to inland waterways freight. The PLA provided financial support to the TTA of over £60,000 and is working with TTA successor, the Thames Skills Academy.
PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer explained:
“We’re committed to the highest safety standards on the Thames, seeing river use grow and helping young people train so they can be part of the Thames’ vibrant future. The Thames Vision project we have led sets out an exciting future for the Thames with more cargo in the port, more passenger trips and more freight by water.
“These apprentices are the future skippers of boats on the Thames that carry over 10 million tourists and commuters every year, and the barges that keep over 100,000 lorries off London’s roads.”
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is one of the main projects that will drive increased use of the river over the next decade. The £4 billion project will upgrade London's sewerage system to cope with the demands of the city well into the 22nd century through the construction of a new 25 kilometre long tunnel below the river. Over four million tonnes of materials will be moved on the Thames during the project.
Andrew Mitchell CBE, CEO Tideway said:
“The Thames is what our project is about and will also be vital to the way we deliver the project - with lower emissions and reduced impact on local communities. Skilled people are essential to us being able to make the most of the Thames and that is why these apprentices are so important to us. That is why we are supporting the creation of the Thames Skills Academy to build on the great work of the TTA, offering training and apprenticeships to even more young people.”
National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2016) is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
The eleven apprentices are: Ricardo Salerno (20), Herne Bay; Conor Keeshan (22), Gravesend; Peter Duggan (23), Luton; Adam Green (20,) Eltham; Stuart McKenna (22), Kingston; Thomas Hassan (25), Gravesend; Terry Gooch (23), Erith; George Surry (20), Bexleyheath; Max Goodwright (21), Bexleyheath; Shane Pink (19), Hoo; Patrick White (20), Longfield; and Max Liles (18), Chalk.
TTA chairman, Chris Livett added:
“Today is a proud day for these young people, and for the TTA. I’ve spent all my working life on the river and it’s great to be able to help the next generation get set for the future. The TTA has done its job. We’ve moved training on the Thames to a new level and are delighted to see the Thames Skills Academy now taking up the baton.”