P&O Ferries apprentices chart course for career at sea
Nine local apprentices started work at P&O Ferries last month as they began a two-year course which will lead to them becoming fully qualified seamen aboard 47,000 ton ships on the English Channel.
The nine - who are aged between 18 and 26 - hail from a variety of backgrounds in the Kent area including landscape gardening, working on the railways and studying at Canterbury College. Four are studying to become what is known in seafaring as deck ratings, with responsibility for steering the ships, loading cars and look-out duties; the other five are studying to become engine ratings, a job which entails working in the engine room and maintaining machinery.
In addition to acquiring up to 12 months of sea time, all of the apprentices will study for a Maritime Studies Qualification (MSQ) at North Kent College in Gravesend. A number of P&O Ferries' apprentices from previous years have now qualified as Able Seafarers.
Mike Willis, Learning and Development Adviser at P&O Ferries, said: "This is the third consecutive year that we have run the apprenticeships course and we had more than 50 applicants apply for the positions."
"The course represents an outstanding opportunity for local people to build a career in a fascinating sector where they will help to sail enormous 47,000 ton ships across the busiest shipping lane in the world. As a local employer, we are investing in the future and laying the foundations for the next generation of our workforce."
One of the apprentices, Deal-based Tom Mitchell, 18 (pictured back row, second left), said: "I was a landscape gardener but wanted to become an apprentice at P&O Ferries because it is a great opportunity and I wanted to build a career for myself. I think the scheme is brilliant and feel like I've learned a lot in the first few weeks including lifeboat and fire drills."
P&O Ferries is a leading pan-European ferry and logistics company, sailing on eight major routes between Britain, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Belgium. It operates 20 vessels which carry more than 10 million passengers, 1.6 million cars and 2.2 million freight units every year.
Together with its logistics division, P&O Ferrymasters, the company also operates integrated road and rail links to countries across the continent including Italy, Poland and Romania. A P&O Ferrymasters-owned rail terminal in the northern Romanian city of Oradea, which will facilitate the onward movement of goods to Britain from the Silk Road, became operational earlier this year.
You can find out more about apprenticeships and careers at sea with P&O Ferries at the Dover Skills & Business Expo at Dover Town Hall on Tuesday, 15 November (9am-3pm).