Accessibility font size toggle
Text size icon
Student Portal Button
User icon

Britain’s bustling ports are enhancing their talent pool through new-style training

Four apprentices stand in front of a monitor.

Britain’s bustling ports are enhancing their talent pool through new-style training being fashioned uniquely at South Shields Marine School. They are sending their apprentices to us to learn skills essential to their development as future key workers within the transportation sector. And we stand alone in supporting their needs via a state-of-the-art new learning programme – the Port Marine Operations Officer (PMOO) apprenticeship.

We are the only UK maritime centre to gain accreditation to run this exciting and in-depth learning programme. Our team has so far given instruction to around a dozen trainees from two of the country’s leading maritime bodies – Associated British Ports and the Port of Dover. They say the course – which can be designed bespoke to an individual employer’s needs – is receiving strong impetus from port bosses and apprentices alike. And with 95 per cent of trade entering the UK via the seas, they believe the training it provides is essential to keeping imports and exports running smoothly. Curriculum leader, Josslynne Brown, said the level 4 PMOO programme was a welcome boost for apprentices and employees. She said:

“This apprenticeship is hugely relevant and important to the maritime sector and to employers who run port operations in the UK. Within its framework are an extremely wide range of skills that are important to support the continued development and training of key ports workers. Huge responsibility can rest on those who carry out port duties, which is why a high level of skill is required for apprentices coming on board. There are many different areas of expertise open to them, and this course helps recruits to understand many of them. They benefit by then being able to choose the area of port operations which suits them best as their chosen career path. This means their employers receive a boost by those they employ having a varied understanding of port operations as a whole.”

Training includes mooring boat operations, health and safety, radio room and marine control centre operations, and basic routine maintenance of marine craft and equipment. A key apprenticeship element is that South Shields Marine School can make it bespoke to each employer’s specific requirements. Josslynne added:

“The programme includes block learning in South Shields, but the timeframe can be adjusted to suit. Ideally, it is for apprentices with no experience of working at a port, but we can tailor it for those who have spent time in that environment. Feedback from the course has been very positive. Apprentices have said their eyes have been opened in a positive way to the work their port does.”

The apprenticeship lasts for up to 30 months, with our involvement being a mix of academic and hands-on instruction. Each apprentice must do a minimum of 20 per cent of their learning ‘off the job’, meaning we typically support them for at least six months. The remainder of the programme is delivered through work experience at their place of employment with a port company. Port Marine Operations Officers work to ensure the safe transit and handling of vessels into and out of a port, and may work as a leader or member of a port or harbour marine operations team.

More information about the PMOO is available by visiting

Alternatively, the marine school’s Jon Milner can be contacted at or by calling 0191 427 3569.

Latest News