As part of National Apprenticeship Week this year, PD Ports is taking the opportunity to celebrate the individuals within the business who are currently studying to an apprenticeship standard, as well as those who have completed apprenticeships and continue to work here.
With an award-winning apprenticeship programme now spanning for more than two decades, PD Ports is a proud proponent of investing in its people and views apprenticeship standards as an excellent means to upskilling employees.
We met with Gareth Simpson, a Marine Operations Superintendent in our Conservancy department who began his career at PD Ports in 2003 studying an apprenticeship standard. Since then, Gareth has used the skills developed during this time to progress in his career at the company and has recently enrolled to study further on a Level 6 Chartered Manager degree apprenticeship.
We asked him what kind of skills his apprenticeship helped him refine, as well as any advice he’d give to those who are looking to start an apprenticeship.
What year did you start your apprenticeship, and what apprenticeship did you complete?
As a school leaver, I attended NETA training for a year and at the age of 17 I joined PD Ports on a Shipwright apprenticeship in 2003. My apprenticeship portfolio was in boatbuilding and maintenance and took four years to complete alongside attending Hartlepool College FE to complete an ONC (Level 3 equivalent qualification).
What roles have you worked in at PD Ports since?
Within my PD Ports career, not only have I undertaken the role of a Shipwright, I have also completed a number of electrical and plumbing courses. I also facilitated the Safety Champions for a number of years before moving into the office recently as a Marine Operations Superintendent.
What is your current job title, and does it differ in any way to the apprenticeship you completed?
Marine Operations Superintendent – this differs a lot from my apprenticeship. I am now off the tools and office based. The skillset is more about the day-to-day management of the people and vessels and having an in-depth knowledge of the river operations. Organising personnel and ensuring all certification is up to date is a big part of the job, as well as planning and prioritising dredge locations on the river.
The theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Skills For Life’. Are there any skills you gained during your apprenticeship that you continue to use now?
I gained many different skills during my apprenticeship that I still use to this day. These are skills such as problem solving, good communication, situational awareness and also general life skills that helped me to grow and mature into the industry.
What did you like most about your apprenticeship?
I enjoyed the variety of the role I was in. Every day there was always something different to do and learn. I also enjoyed the aspect of working on the River Tees as it is symbolic to Middlesbrough where I’m from.
Do you feel PD Ports has been supportive of you throughout your career?
PD Ports as a company has helped to develop and further my career every step of the way. They have provided all tools, equipment, time and training to enhance my skills and knowledge and even still to this day having just started my degree.
Do you have any advice to those looking for an apprenticeship, or anyone just starting on their apprenticeship journey?
I would advise an apprenticeship as it is hands on experience, which I believe is priceless. It gives a first-hand experience within the industry and helps to enhance interpersonal skills while striving towards the qualification.
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