Teesside student Emily Clark says experiencing the Tees Valley Logistics Academy at Stockton Riverside College convinced her to change plans to study architecture at Cambridge or Lancaster to instead start a civil engineering apprenticeship with PD Ports, one of the UK’s major port groups.
The Logistics Academy, part of the college’s offering to make students career-ready, exists to tackle the skills shortage within the logistics sector, a key part of the lifeblood of the Tees Valley industrial landscape.
Emily attended the Academy whilst studying for A-levels at SRC Bede Sixth Form and said it “opened my eyes” to the exciting and wide-ranging career opportunities within the logistics sector.
As part of the programme, Emily had a four-week internship at PD Ports’ Teesport-based engineering department and through this she realised that civil engineering was something she wanted to pursue.
“After the four weeks, I really didn’t want to leave,” recalled Emily, who was offered – and readily accepted – a six-year civil engineering apprenticeship with PD Ports.
“I’m really happy to have joined PD Ports,” she said.
“It’s the sort of opportunity you don’t expect to get and gives me a chance to create a career here within civil engineering.”
As a civil engineering apprentice with PD Ports, Emily, who lives in Hartburn, Stockton, will undertake a part-time HNC course at Teesside University before continuing her part-time studies resulting in a masters degree in civil engineering.
Emily said: “It opened my eyes not only to the opportunities within the logistics sector but the idea of progressing into employment via an apprenticeship rather than studying full-time for a degree.
“There is no way I would have come to PD Ports without the experience of the Logistics Academy. In all honesty, I didn’t even know it existed but the academy gave me real experience and knowledge of a port environment.
“I’m convinced the apprenticeship can help take me to where I want to go but many students do see apprenticeships as second best.
“Too often it’s drilled into young people that full-time university is the only route and that was my plan but I’d encourage other students to consider the Logistics Academy and see what else is out there.”
Neil Dalus, PD Ports’ group engineering manager (civil), added: “The Logistics Academy is a two-way thing in that it can help companies such as PD Ports and other employers to retain the best Teesside talent while giving young people like Emily exciting career opportunities.”
Jim French, PD Ports’ portcentric logistics director and mentor to Emily through the Logistics Academy, agreed: “If it hadn’t been for the Logistics Academy, we wouldn’t have known about Emily and she wouldn’t have known about PD Ports.
“The academy is all about tackling the fact that too many people aren’t aware of the range of opportunities within the sector.”
Michael Duffey, head of the Tees Valley Logistics Academy, said: “We are delighted to see Emily go on to achieve so much following her time with the Logistics Academy.
“Working with industry giants, such as PD Ports, the aim of the academy is to highlight the opportunities that exist in the industry, to inform and inspire young people, while meeting the real training needs of employers and ultimately help plug the skills gaps.
“Emily’s success is a great example of what can be achieved and we know that she will have a long and successful career ahead of her.”
Other recent success stories from the Tees Valley Logistics Academy include Michael Chapman, who has started a level 2 warehouse and storage apprenticeship with PD Ports, another who has gone into a local logistics firm and a fourth who is now studying logistics full-time at university.
Along with its career-ready programme for 16 to 18 year-olds, The Logistics Academy also runs a programme for the unemployed aged 19-plus and is now working with secondary schools to introduce logistics to those aged 14 to 16.
For more details about the Tees Valley Logistics Academy visit www.stockton.ac.uk/tvla/
• Pictured (above): Emily Clark with PD Ports’ Jim French (centre) and Neil Dalus.