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PD Ports CEO, Frans Calje, led a panel of Tees Valley business leaders at the Conservative Party Conference this weekend in a bid to encourage more support for young people during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

The session, which aired just after midday, highlighted initiatives already underway across the Tees Valley, including PD Ports’ industry-leading apprenticeship programme, and explored how organisations can work together to help young people facing unprecedented uncertainty.

“There is a tremendous amount already underway in Tees Valley to raise aspirations of young people, build confidence, develop resilience, deliver jobs and showcase the wealth of quality career opportunities right here on their doorstep. But we want to do more and we need you to do more too.

“It’s promising to the see initiatives like the Government’s ‘Kick Start’ scheme aimed to give funded work experience placements to 16-24 year olds at risk of long-term unemployment and I would urge any businesses across the nation to get involved and do what they can to help provide career opportunities for the next generation. Regardless of your sector, we all need good people to grow and develop our businesses.

“We have already embarked on our largest apprenticeship recruitment drive, which will see over 50 apprentices, right across our business come the start of 2021.”

As Covid-19 continues to affect the UK both socially and economically, the current outlook on job prospects remains challenging for young people. PD Ports is working in partnership with the likes of NETA Training, High Tide Foundation, North East School of Shipping, Tees Valley Logistics Academy and Teesside University to ensure the next generation have the bright future they deserve.

Frans Calje is hopeful that the fringe event will encourage both public and private sectors to work collaboratively to increase opportunities and assess what further steps they can take to support the future workforce.

“Covid-19 has inflicted serious damage on our economy and the outlook for jobs and career prospects has become equally uncertain,” said Frans.

“This is undoubtedly daunting for young people starting their careers which is why we at PD Ports are urging our fellow businesses, especially within the UK port sector, to take greater action in backing young people.

“Our people are our greatest asset and we truly believe that by working alongside them and nurturing their talent, we can encourage the next generation to go on to do great things for our industry. However, there is so much more that businesses can do and now, more so than ever, we must open doors and guide the next generation.”

Jacob Young MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen and MP for Redcar, also sat alongside Frans on the panel.

“PD Ports is a fantastic local employer and an asset to Redcar & Cleveland,” said Jacob. “It’s great to sit alongside them for this event and look at how we can support young Teessiders into work.

“Our region is at the forefront of new technologies including Hydrogen, Offshore wind, and other forms of low carbon energy – so it’s vital we develop the skills in our young people to take these jobs and lead the industries of the future.”

Fellow panellists also included Jane Armitage, Managing Partner Jacksons Law, Michael Duffey, Head of Construction, Professional and Service Industries at Stockton Riverside College, Mark Easby Managing Director Better and High Tide Foundation Chairman and Nikki Sayer, Associate Director of Casper Shipping and founder of the North East School of Shipping.

A full recording of the event is now available below.

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