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PD Ports joins forces with Tees Valley Education Trust to ‘level up’ learning opportunities for Teesside children

ByHarvey Hugo

Jun 25, 2021

PD Ports, Statutory Harbour Authority for the River Tees and the largest private employer in the Tees Valley, has joined forces with the Tees Valley Education Multi-Academy Trust to create an Enterprise Charter for children and young people across Teesside.

This shared commitment to do more for the region’s young people will see PD Ports and Tees Valley Education Trust, along with other key partners and stakeholders, including Teesside University, work together to develop career-led learning opportunities from primary years to post 18.

After recently launching the most ambitious recruitment drive in the UK ports sector in which the port operator set out plans to recruit 50 new apprentices across its operations, PD Ports is now accelerating its commitment to raising aspirations, and inspiring young people from age five upwards about maritime careers and promoting local pride linked to the River Tees.

Kirsten Donkin, Head of PR, Marketing and Communications at PD Ports, explained how the partnership has been part of the port operator’s plans since the successful launch of PD Ports’ innovative Teesport Explorers program in 2019.

“At PD Ports we already do a tremendous amount of work to raise aspirations of young people,” said Kirsten. “We work closely and collaboratively with local education institutions and training providers such as the High Tide Foundation and the Tees Valley Logistics Academy to inform 12-18 year olds of the range of exciting opportunities available across the maritime industry.

“However, we also recognise that by the age of 14, young people have already conditioned themselves to believe there are certain jobs they can do and those which they can’t; many of which are based around gender stereotypes and family influences. We must do more to tackle these misplaced perceptions.

“That was our initial thought process behind launching the Teesport Explorers program – getting young people down to the port to see our operations and meet our people. It’s all about providing consistent engagement throughout childhood and into early adulthood in order to ignite their imagination and show them if they believe it, they can achieve it when choosing a career.

“There is a huge sense of positivity in our region at the moment, the future prospects around investment and jobs are very encouraging and with a projected 32,000 jobs associated with Freeport status over the next 25 years, we need to ensure local people are aware of the opportunities and are equipped with the right skills to benefit.

“We share in those values and thought processes with the Tees Valley Education Trust and now look forward to working together to give young people in our region the futures they deserve; putting ‘levelling up’ into action and bridging any future skills gaps.”

Tees Valley Education is a Multi-Academy Trust and sponsor, which is currently made up of five academies across Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, who share a deep commitment to improving outcomes for all children and their communities.

CEO of the Trust, Katrina Morley, explained how she believes the partnership with PD Ports will deliver real value to primary school pupils across the region.

“By working in collaboration with the biggest employer in the region, and Teesside University, we are able to construct a variety of curriculum, skills, experiential and project-based learning for all of our children and young people,” said Katrina.

“The ability to learn about real world employment opportunities, visit a range of sites, experience being at the forefront of the exciting investment in the area, will have long lasting impact on the life chances, aspirations and choices for all.

“The shared commitment we have to investing in our communities is being realised through the project which will support Year One children to adults. Children hold the keys to the future… but we must help them to unlock a range of possibilities with them.”

In April, PD Ports secured a £2,000 donation for the Tees Valley Education Trust after winning the NEPIC Communities and Reputation Award and donating its winnings to kick-start the Enterprise Charter.

PD Ports was commended at the prestigious awards for its outstanding demonstration of community support and social responsibility throughout 2020.