The Port of Liverpool is welcoming 12 new engineering apprentices to the business – the largest intake of apprentices at the port for 20 years.
The apprentices join the port for a four-year course in either mechanical or electrical engineering, which will see them spend one year full time at college, with a subsequent three years training on the job supplemented by further college study. Classroom based study will be delivered by the North West Maritime & Engineering College in Birkenhead, part of the Mersey Maritime Group.
All recruits to the programme were required to pass tough aptitude tests and interviews in order to secure their apprenticeships. They will work their way to NVQ 3 by their third year, and an HNC qualification by their fourth.
Megan Pickering, a 19-year-old from Runcorn, is amongst this year's intake. She was the first female engineering apprentice at the Port of Liverpool.
She said: "To be able to get this kind of education, and get paid for it, is amazing. The port is paying for an education I just couldn't get anywhere else. Some people go to university and all they come out with is debt. I'm getting all of this – and a livelihood – for free. I'm really proud to be here."
She continued: "The size of the port is just breathtaking. It's not until you get on site and see the scale of activity that you realise just how much machinery is involved in the day-to-day operation of the port. It's a very exciting prospect for a trainee engineer."
All apprentices will develop skills in fabrication, welding, calibration and diagnostics, as well as report writing and problem solving. Staff at the port work closely with tutors at the Maritime & Engineering College to ensure the course deliver port-specific skills and is up to date. Each apprentice is assigned his or her own port employee mentor.
Gary Hodgson, managing director of Peel Ports Mersey, said: "Investing in a highly skilled workforce is key to our future success. The fact that we are welcoming the largest number of apprentices we have seen in 20 years is indicative of the way our business is developing.
"Our apprenticeship programme is just one of a series of substantial investments and upgrades currently underway at the port, and one that we're committed to expanding and developing year on year. Work is about to start on our £300m deepwater container terminal, Liverpool 2, which will be operational in 2015. The new terminal will generate in the region of 5,000 jobs over 20 years, which is great news for our apprentices – as well as being great news for the local and wider economy."
All apprentices are employees of the port from the day they start their training; their salary increases incrementally over the four-year apprenticeship.