Ten local apprentices – including the first ever female apprentices – started work at P&O Ferries this month as they began a two-year course which will lead to them becoming fully qualified seafarers aboard 47,000 ton ships on the English Channel.
The ten – who are aged between 18 and 29 – hail from a variety of backgrounds in Kent including a bar tender, a former employee of the school exclusion unit and one who worked as a football coach in the United States.
Seven of them are studying to become what are known in seafaring as Deck Ratings, with responsibility for steering ships, loading cars and look-out duties. The other three are studying to become Engine Ratings, which entails working in engine rooms and maintaining machinery.
All ten are employed on a Shoreside Learning Contract, whereby they travel daily on the ships and have taster periods of living on board by way of preparation for when they are qualified.
Mike Willis, Learning and Development Adviser at P&O Ferries, said: “This is the fourth consecutive year in which we have run the apprenticeships course and we received an enormous amount of interest, with 176 applicants applying for the positions.”
Seafaring is an exciting career
“We are delighted to welcome our first female apprentices, which reinforces the point that seafaring is an exciting career for men and women alike. During the next two years we will be investing in their training, accommodation and examinations to equip them with a set of skills which will stay with them for life.”
Stacy Gregory (pictured front row, second from right), who is 25-years-old and from Folkestone, said: “Seeing what the last group of apprentices did made it look really exciting. I am especially looking forward to obtaining a qualification at the end of the course.”
Sam Jones , a 29-year-old from Dover, added: “This qualification will secure my future and the future of my family. I will have something that will set me up for the rest of my life.”
P&O Ferries’ apprenticeships scheme has been running since 2014 and helps local people start a career at sea. The Dover-based employer’s wider stakeholder programme offers visits to schools and colleges within the local community, a free initiative with the visit often tailored to school requirements and their current projects.