Port Operative Apprentice

Course Length 12-18 months
Course Cost £8,000 (paid by the employer via Government funding)
Apprentice Requirements
  • Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn your chosen trade.
  • Dedication and commitment to coursework and the job.
  • English and Maths to GCSE (or equivalent) grade C or 4. If not, SeaRegs
    will assist you in gaining these qualifications during the Apprenticeship.
  • Possession of a driving license is advantageous

As a Port Operative, you will have a key role in enabling businesses to deliver their cargo on time and safely. Goods can include any items imported to, or exported from the UK, such as cars, food, manufactured goods and raw materials and the work you will do depends on the type of ship or cargo. Operatives in larger ports tend to specialise, but smaller ports will often require you to perform a wide range of duties. 

Port operatives may be involved in:

  • Loading, unloading, handling and securing cargo 
  • Warehousing, storage and retrieval 
  • Roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel operations
  • On-shore mooring and vessel handling operations.
  • Passenger operations 
  • Workplace transport operations, 
  • Infrastructure operations
  • Operate heavy machinery, operate specialised port operating equipment and lifting and handling equipment 

Port Operatives may work onboard any type and size of vessel in a port.  Typically working in teams under the direction of a supervisor you will be an essential part of the core function of a port. Working hours may include unsocial hours and working outdoors in inclement weather is likely.

A Port Operative’s role is usually broken down into cargo and passenger roles:

  1. Cargo Operatives safely and efficiently load and discharge vessels.  Handling cargo commodities including break bulk, dry bulk, liquid bulk, Ro-Ro and containers, they enable the onward movement of all cargo types to warehousing and storage operations.
  2. Passenger, Ferry and Cruise Operatives safely and efficiently load and unload passengers, their baggage and vehicles from vessels. Monitoring travel documentation and assisting security procedures such as search and screening, they have a direct role in responding to emergencies and in assisting passengers and third parties in the event of an emergency.  They interact directly with members of the public as well as trade customers and are required to demonstrate a high degree of customer care.

Knowledge: all operatives

You will gain the following knowledge; working practices including legislation, regulations, procedures, health and safety, rules and regulations, incidents and emergency procedures, environmental protection, security, ethics, quality and diversity. The importance of the port and its role in the supply chain, the impact of customer service on service and reputation. General operating principles of the port, the types of port operations and cargoes handled in the ports. The provision of port services to major industries. The types of plant, equipment, infrastructure and vessels that may be found in a port, the principles and hazards of berthing vessels and the control of vehicle movement.

Knowledge: Cargo Operative

Understand lifting operations and the factors involved in safe lifting, including methods and principles of trimming/cleaning out cargo holds.

Knowledge: Passenger/Ferry/Cruise Operative

Understand the principal types of travel document and associated papers and how to recognise and validate relevant travel documents.

Skills: all operatives

You will be taught the following skills; to keep yourself and others safe by adhering to working practices, providing a high standard of work, gathering information and apply the relevant procedures where applicable, working with others, communicating effectively and controlling vehicle movements.

Skills: Cargo Operative

You will learn how to use plant, equipment and attachments, to lift and move loads safely within a port environment, how to accurately and promptly deliver the principles of safe and efficient cargo and warehouse management. Secure and ensure the integrity of cargo, whether to the road, rail or vessel. Pack, repack or remove cargo from a consignment; for example; for inspections, providing a part-load service, handling break-bulk cargo or making up container loads.

Skills: Passenger/Ferry/Cruise Operative

You will learn how to resolve customer service problems successfully and courteously, within the limits of your own responsibility and authority and refer problems outside of your own responsibility or authority to the relevant person(s). Transfer passengers to/from vessels, ensuring the safe movement of passengers and vehicles on to, or off of vessels. Handle baggage using the most suitable method, identifying correct destination and any factors requiring special attention, following correct procedures for damaged, lost, unclaimed, unlabelled, unaccompanied, or suspect baggage promptly.

Behaviours: all operatives

You will be expected to act professionally and be risk-aware. Display a self-disciplined, self-motivated, proactive approach to work. Be receptive to feedback, be willing to learn new skills and adjust to change. Be corporate aware; embody the organisation’s values, a belief in the services it offers and an interest in the industry.

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