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DFDS catering apprentices
Skills4dover » News » DFDS becomes first UK ferry operator to offer maritime catering apprenticeships

DFDS becomes first UK ferry operator to offer maritime catering apprenticeships

Europe’s leading ferry operator, DFDS, has become the first UK maritime company to recruit apprentices for a brand new maritime catering apprenticeship programme.

The three new catering apprentices join a 12-strong group, made up of a further six deck and three engine apprentices. The group have started a 24 month programme of classroom training at North Kent College in Gravesend and on-the-job skills training on board DFDS’ Dover-Dunkirk ships as they work towards qualification as Able Seafarers, Marine Fitters and Maritime Caterers.

DFDS held a welcome reception to celebrate the new apprentices, with guest speakers including Gemma Griffin, Vice-President of HR & Crewing at DFDS; Captain Paul Mount from DFDS ship Delft Seaways; Steve Watkins, Nautical Lecturer at North Kent College’s National Maritime Training Centre; and Donna Stephens, Operations Manager at the Merchant Navy Training Board.

Gemma Griffin said: “We’re proud to offer young people in the South East the opportunity to build a career at sea through our apprenticeship scheme. The UK shipping industry faces a particular challenge in attracting young people to join as ratings and we’re delighted to be trailblazers in this area by providing three exciting routes into a maritime career.

“I’m particularly pleased that this year we welcome the first-ever maritime caterer apprentices into our business, leading the way and setting the standard for future apprentices in the UK to follow. It’s hugely rewarding for our teams to welcome new faces into our business and to share their knowledge with the next generation of seafarers, helping them achieve qualifications that will give them skills for life. We look forward to following their progress and supporting them through their courses over the next two years.”

DFDS’s apprenticeship programme has been running since 2012 and has seen two groups of deck apprentices and one group of engineering apprentices qualify and take up full-time jobs with the company. The apprenticeships are offered in partnership with the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), the shipping industry’s central body for promoting and developing sector-specific education and training skills.

Donna Stephens, Operations Manager at the Merchant Navy Training Board said: “DFDS sets a great example to others in the way that they recruit people into our industry and train their workforce. The company has led the way, from being the first UK ferry operator to offer an apprenticeship scheme with their first cohort of apprentices in 2012, to now becoming the first business to offer the new maritime caterer apprenticeship programme in the UK.

“We value DFDS’ input into our work and look forward to continuing to work together with Gemma and her team to develop our apprenticeship programmes further in the future.”

The apprenticeship programmes are aimed at 17 to 24 year olds with a minimum of Grade C Maths and English at GCSE level (older age groups can also apply). The Deck Scheme will see students qualify as Able Seafarers, working in the deck department as a watchman and assisting with loading and unloading the ship; apprentices on the Engine Scheme work towards becoming Marine Fitters within the engineering team, responsible for maintaining and repairing the ships; and the new Catering Scheme will see students qualify as Maritime Caterers, working as chefs in the ship’s galley to prepare the food served on board.

For more information on the apprenticeship schemes, visit or watch the MNTB’s new careers at sea film: