Think you know what careers the maritime sector can offer? Think again. Tees Business talks to those whose ship came in when they joined PD Ports.
As one of the Tees Valley’s leading employers and one of the UK’s major port groups, PD Ports is passionate about providing quality experiences and opportunities for the next generation.
CEO Frans Calje is a firm believer that at the heart of the business is its people and that while technology has its part to play in the evolution of the maritime industry, it is people who will create the lasting legacy for the sector.
The region is rich with passionate, skilled and innovative people and PD Ports works closely with local educational institutions to raise awareness of opportunities and develop the best talent for the future.
“The Tees Valley has a rich heritage of skilled labour and there is a noticeable appetite to reinvigorate industry,” says Frans.
“In our own business, we have invested heavily in our workforce as we believe skilled people who are empowered to make decisions and challenge the norm will ensure future success.”
PD Ports plays an integral role in attracting and retaining talent within the region and demonstrates its commitments to raising aspirations through its co-founded charity the High Tide Foundation, The Tees Valley Logistics Academy and through working collaboratively with Teesside University to develop bespoke apprenticeships programmes.
There are currently more than 50 apprentices employed within PD Ports nationwide, studying across all locations and functions including finance, engineering, property, IT, construction and accountancy.
A force to be reckoned with
PD Ports has an ongoing partnership with Teesside University that spans over a decade and involves collaborating on projects such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, consultancy and undergraduate work experience.
Most recently the two organisations have come together to develop a new, bespoke Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) to support the development of future leaders in the ports and logistics industry.
Holly Fielding, PD Ports’ harbour police constable, is currently enrolled on the CMDA and is learning the skills and gaining the knowledge and experience needed to become a future business leader.
“I’ve got a real interest in progressing within PD Ports and have made my ambition clear to my managers,” explained Holly.
“When the opportunity came up to take part in the PD Ports and Teesside University programme my name was put forward and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.
“I’m allowed time out to go to university and have the benefit of taking independent study days. I feel so lucky to work for PD Ports because I’m not limited to work in one police role for the rest of my career. There are lots of different avenues to explore and the opportunities and support from PD Ports is vital in further developing my career.”
PD Ports is passionate about developing its future leaders and workforce as the business continues to adapt to fastchanging markets.
The CMDA gives current employees the opportunity to learn theoretical knowledge that underpins the practical skills in their daily roles, developing their education and career prospects.
A new wave of talent
Back in 2012, the High Tide Foundation was launched by founding partners PD Ports and Casper Shipping with aims to inspire young people aged 12 to 18 to build a career in the maritime industry and its vital support sectors whilst demonstrating the variety of roles available.
“Through meaningful and engaging experiences with key industry partners, we want to unveil our ‘hidden’ industry,” explains Kirsten Donkin, PD Ports’ head of PR, marketing and communications.
“The stark reality is that unless they have a family member in the industry, a career in maritime doesn’t feature on the radar of young people.
“When they think of maritime and logistics, most young people think of a crane operator, a heavy goods vehicle driver or an engineer. They are preconditioned to think that opportunities are limited, with little diversity.
“This is why it’s vital that we continue to work together with schools, young people, parents and businesses alike to shout about what our industry can really offer.”
Earlier this year the High Tide Foundation joined forces with the Tees Valley Logistics Academy to further drive demand for future careers in logistics in the region.
Both organisations work in partnership with business across Middlesbrough, Darlington, Stockton, Redcar, Hartlepool and beyond to raise awareness of career and training opportunities for young people in the North-East, reducing the risk of losing talent.
Jacob Moat (below) and Emily Clark (pictured top), both degree apprentices at PD Ports, were once Logistics Academy students and are now assets to the business, paving the way for the port operator’s future.
Both impressed so much on their work experience placements that they were offered full time employment alongside the necessary support to continue their education.
Jacob, PD Ports’ estates surveying apprentice, works with a mentor in the Estates department four days week, and spends the fifth day at Northumbria University where he is studying to become a chartered surveyor.
“I’m passionate about promoting PD Ports to other young people because as a business, it’s great at growing and attracting young, local talent,” said Jacob.
“The whole team has been incredibly supportive of me and my studies. You can guarantee that anyone who walks through the door to start their career here will receive the same support base that I have. The support from colleagues across all functions has been brilliant.”
Emily is flying the flag for women in STEM subjects, choosing a degree apprenticeship in civil engineering with PD Ports over studying architecture at Cambridge University.
“When I was a kid I wanted to be a dentist, a vet, all sorts of things,” said Emily.
“Even when I started my internship at PD Ports with the Logistics Academy I was still changing my mind about my career.
“As soon as I saw the civil engineering side of PD Ports I knew it was what I wanted to do. I’d never have explored this career path without the internship and I would have made the wrong decision.”
As an employer, PD Ports has implemented a comprehensive development plan, detailing each step of her career up to chartered status.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have at PD Ports and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who can support me in what I’m doing,” said Emily.
“I know where my career is heading and how I’m going to get there, which is a great boost of confidence and gives me the reassurance that my hard work is paying off.”
With the North-East consistently taking the title of the UK’s leading net exporting region, PD Ports believes the Tees Valley has a responsibility to ensure there is a diverse and skilled workforce ready to support future economic growth.