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Portsmouth schools say ‘Ahoy there!’ to maritime jobs

Leader of the council talks to school children
A pilot, Border Force official, Brittany Ferries manager, Naval officer and Viking Cruise crew, were just some of the people 180 local school children met when they visited the port today (Thursday 13 October) as part of Maritime UK week.

After hearing about the roles in the maritime industry schools from Victory Primary, King’s Academy Northern Parade, The Petersfield School,  St Peter’s School Waterlooville and Flying Bull Academy, were taken on a tour of the city’s famous marine and maritime organisations including Portsmouth International Port, Portico, the Historic Dockyard, Hovertravel  and Portsmouth Naval Base.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said: “As an island nation it’s really important our young people understand how important jobs in the maritime industries are. 

“I hope that hearing first hand what it means to work at sea, help bring in cargo for supermarket shelves, protect our borders and providing security and defence, gives them an idea about what they might do in the future.

“All these roles are crucial and I support Maritime UK’s call for a vocational qualification in maritime to make sure we can support future generations in their careers and also play an important part in keeping the UK safe, secure and thriving. 

“As a council owned port we’re keen to become a major provider of skilled employment, and the port’s Masterplan demonstrates the opportunity to grow over the next ten and twenty years, We want to make sure our young people have the chance to benefit from our unique marine and maritime position.”

Maritime UK has identified that:

  • No vocational maritime qualifications exist in school league tables in England, despite the industry moving 95% of our trade and being a major employer in coastal communities.
  • Industry backs proposals to develop new qualifications as thousands of schoolkids visit local ports and businesses for Maritime UK Week.
  • New vocational qualifications, which already exist in Scotland, can help reverse educational inequality in coastal communities and stop jobs going overseas.

Maritime UK is backing proposals to introduce new T Level maritime qualifications, and encourages GCSE-equivalent qualifications to ensure implementation of maritime in the school curriculum, to provide new opportunities for young people and end the postcode lottery between England and Scotland, which does offer vocational qualifications in the sector.

Industry and schools expect maritime qualifications will help reverse educational inequality in coastal communities. Government figures show disadvantaged pupils who live in coastal areas achieve about three grades lower at GCSE than those living in non-coastal locations.

Coastal education leaders are concerned this is driven by a lack of entry routes and engagement with local industries like maritime, which contributes £116bn to UK economy, pays 30% higher than the national average, and is appealing to young people to fill 60,000 green jobs by 2030.

The Maritime Skills Commission (MSC) has also found that 55% of the 67,000 certificated officers in the Merchant Navy, 30% of employees in maritime law, insurance, shipbroking and classification, and 15% of the UK’s fishing fleet come from overseas. While maritime is a global industry that relies on its workforce being international, the MSC warns this is also driven by a lack of home-grown talent.

Sarah Kenny OBE, chair of Maritime UK, said: “Developing the skills and pathways for the next generation to thrive in maritime is key to our global trade, and our green future.

“Recent government-industry collaboration has moved the dial on maritime skills, but there is scope to go further and faster, providing a new world of opportunities for young people in coastal communities.

“Tomorrow these schoolkids can be ensuring our country’s energy security, strengthening our naval defences, be piloting AI ships, and building our new Teslas of the seas.

“As an island nation, maritime is a major part of our past, present and our future. So it’s about time our kids were given more opportunities to learn about maritime in our classrooms.”

This year as part of Maritime UK Week Portsmouth International Port will open the doors of the industry to the public on Saturday 15 October from 10am – 4pm, where visitors can get all the access to behind the scenes port activity.

Leader of the council talks to school children