ABP invests £12m in vehicle handling in Southampton and doubles marine apprenticeship scheme

April 10, 2015

Image: Chancellor George Osborne with ABP marine apprentices

Associated British Ports is announcing plans to invest more than £12m in its vehicle handling facilities in the Port of Southampton.

Announced on the day the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited the port, the investment will create more than 5,700 new storage spaces for vehicles from some of the UK’s biggest automotive manufacturing export success stories.

At the same time, ABP is continuing its policy of investing in young people by doubling the number of marine apprentices on its industry leading training programme.

The vehicle handling investment comes as the finishing touches are applied to a £6m investment in the port’s Europe-leading turnaround cruise business, with improvements to the Mayflower Cruise Terminal.

Already the UK’s leading vehicle handling port, Southampton is experiencing significant growth in the volume of vehicles over the quayside, with the number jumping 11% from 750,000 in 2013 to 834,000 in 2014.

As a result, ABP is investing in a five storey facility in the Eastern Docks capable of handling 3,200 vehicles and a dedicated inspection area. Work is due to start in May and complete in March 2016.

In the Western Docks, more than £3m is being invested in creating a 12-acre open air car handling facility with 2,500 spaces for cars imported into the UK.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “A key part of our long term economic plan is ensuring we have the right skills and the right infrastructure to help great British businesses export their products and create manufacturing jobs here in the UK.

“Today ABP is not just investing in young people by expanding their apprenticeship programme. They are also building a port that will support jobs in the car industry across the country, so that wherever you are in the world, you cannot fail to see cars Made in Britain.”

Nick Ridehalgh, ABP Director Southampton, said: “The Port of Southampton is a key part of the supply chain for some of Britain’s biggest export success stories. Our investment is proof both of the international appetite for British made vehicles and of our commitment to support that growth with premier class facilities.”

Across the group ABP supports more than 50 apprenticeship positions and that commitment is growing. As well as marine operations, ABP has apprentices specialising in areas covering key port operations, including engineering, electrical and administration skills.

ABP currently employs nine apprentices on its unique Marine Operations Apprenticeship scheme and is looking to double that number with 2015’s intake.

Stuart Wardale, ABP Training and Development Manager, said: “We are constantly working to develop our training to offer skilled jobs and employment in the areas where our ports operate and to ensure our business has the skills we need to succeed.

“ABP is a growing business and apprenticeships for young people are a key part of our strategy to continue to deliver commercial success. That’s why we’re increasing our commitment to develop more apprenticeships and ensure the business has the skills we need long into the future.”

The Marine Operations Apprenticeship scheme, which is the only one of its kind in the country, is based around the National Occupational Standards for Port Operations and is designed to give those interested in working in a marine environment the opportunity to learn about shipping and port operations, while working for the UK’s leading port operator.

The scheme was developed by ABP Marine Training Manager Captain Martin Gough in 2012 and reflects ABP's commitment to bringing young people into the industry and training them to the highest professional standards.

“It’s essential that we have robust succession planning in place and part of that process means we need very high-calibre young people coming into the business to ensure it continues to operate to the highest marine standards,” he said.

“The course is designed to give hands-on training in all aspects of our port’s marine operations and offers exciting career opportunities, which can lead to the highest levels within the operational teams that control shipping movements at all of ABP’s 21 ports across the UK.”

Of the nine apprentices currently employed, four were appointed in 2012 and are now embarking on the Professional Diploma in Shipping and Maritime Studies, a bespoke award created especially for the ABP Marine Operations Apprenticeship. The remaining five recruits were appointed last year and are settling into their new roles.
Thanks to the success of the original Marine Apprenticeship scheme, ABP is also launching a Marine Pilotage Apprenticeship, which will be based at its South Wales ports.

Martin Gough continued: “As the supply of experienced mariners wanting to come ashore to train as pilots is decreasing we’ve decided to extend our Marine Operations apprenticeship scheme to create a Marine Pilotage Apprenticeship.

“The Marine Pilotage Apprenticeship will take a total of five years to complete, being an additional two years on top of the first three years of the Marine Operations Apprenticeship.

“The training and authorisation procedures will be consistent with the Marine Pilotage National Occupational Standards, meet the Marine Pilotage parts of the Port Marine Safety Code Guide to Good Practice and they’ll also be consistent with the principles of IMO Resolution A960".