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Business leaders are working together to raise awareness of an often overlooked global industry anchored in the roots of the Tees Valley.

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers has partnered with Stockton Riverside College to introduce the first phase of a dedicated shipping school to the region.

Bringing together employers, industry experts and educators, the North East School of Shipping (NESS) will help to demystify the sector, putting it firmly on the radar of those considering their future careers.

By developing a future skilled workforce, the school, which is the Institute’s first in the UK outside of London, aims to help tackle both current and future skills gaps.

Nikki Sayer, Chair of the North East branch of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers and Customs Manager at Casper Shipping, said: “The whole journey of products coming from the other side of the world is invisible to people and shipping is a massive part of that. We want to open people’s eyes to the vast opportunities that are out there and offer accessible training for those starting out and also those progressing in their careers.”

With global trade high on the UK’s agenda, the potential for an increased demand in skills is clear.

PD Ports’ Chief Executive Officer, Frans Calje, said: “Every business needs good people and at PD Ports we invest heavily to support the ongoing learning and development of our people.

“With over 95% of all UK imports arriving in the country on a ship, it’s easy to see how the maritime industry is critical to the UK economy and society generally yet it lacks visibility, in particular, amongst young people. Our aim through the North East School of Shipping is to raise visibility of the abundance of opportunities and variety of roles available, making it a career of choice for the next generation in the Tees Valley.”

Welcoming the Shipping School to the region, Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, said: “Teesside is a trading region, we always have been and always will be. As Britain once again looks outwards to the rest of the world with an independent trade policy, ports like Teesport are going to be even more important to our local economy than they are now.

“This, coupled with the exciting prospect of Teesport and the South Tees Development Corporation site becoming one of the UK’s first free ports, means we need to make sure our young people have the skills needed to take advantage of the new job opportunities created around the port.

“By locating the new Shipping School here in the Tees Valley it means our young people can develop the right skills safe in the knowledge that what they are learning is exactly what they need to get on and develop a career.”

Based on the London School of Shipping model, the North East School of Shipping will provide a range of courses to those starting out in the shipping industry, delivered by Stockton Riverside College.

Michael Duffey, Stockton Riverside College’s Head of Department for Construction and Professional Services, said: “The College has been working closely with industry employers and experts for several years to provide training opportunities and raise awareness of the logistics industry, resulting in the Tees Valley Logistics Academy. The introduction of the Shipping School with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers seemed like a natural progression in our mission to raise awareness and help to plug future skills gaps.”

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