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Port Services

The UK has a wide network of ports and so jobs in port services are widespread. Both permanent and contract work is usually available.

The UK relies heavily on its ports around the coast, which means there are a huge number of roles at any of these ports. Harbours and private terminals are also included in this. Some of the roles you might come across include: 

Port Operatives: Responsible for moving freight between the ship and the port, as well as other jobs around the port such as positioning gangways, ensuring signage is correctly in place, and other tasks that ensure the smooth running of the port.

Stevedores: Mostly responsible for loading and unloading cargo from ships to storage areas or vehicles and maintaining equipment used on a daily basis. 

Passenger Operations: In ferry/passenger terminals Passenger Operators are an integral part of customer service. They ensure passengers get on and off the ferries safely and ensure the efficient operation of the terminal. They may need to help passengers with queries, travel documents, and other requests so a high level of customer service will be required.

Port Shunters: Much like driving jobs Port Shunters must have their HGV Class 1 licence. They are required to move cargo and containers around the port or to specific locations. 

Engineers: Ports require a great deal of specialist infrastructure and so engineers from all different backgrounds are required to ensure that the machinery is kept in good order.

Harbour Masters: Harbour Masters are employed to keep track of the movement on the water and ensure that all ships and other water users can navigate safely. 

Port Managers: Port managers are responsible for all operations at the port itself and may liaise with the external operators that deal with the port such as freight companies. They’ll look after port development and anything that affects the operation of the port as a whole. 

Thanks to the great expanse of coastline, the UK has a large number of ports. Jobs can be found at all major ports, but some of the largest include: 

  • Immingham
  • London
  • Felixstowe
  • Southampton
  • Liverpool

The major ports tend to be run by port groups that operate several ports around the country. These companies will often have contracts with recruitment agencies to hire for their ports. Some of these are: 

  • Associated British Ports
  • Forth Ports
  • Hutchison Ports
  • Peel Group
  • PD Ports

At entry level training and qualification can usually be done on the job with NVQs available, particularly for port operatives. A driving licence will usually be required, and for passenger operatives evidence of customer service experience will be useful.

Some of the larger port companies such as Forth Ports offer a graduate scheme. 

For the higher level positions experience will need to be gained within relevant roles. 

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