Port operatives are based in small or large ports and harbours and carry out a range of tasks involving handling cargo, passengers or marine craft. This can involve operating equipment and driving vehicles.
There are three main areas that come under the term port operative:
- stevedoring – transferring cargo between ship and shore
- marine operations – working on marine craft and assisting with movements
- passenger operations – assisting the movement of passengers to and from vessels such as ferries and cruise ships.
As a stevedore you could be:
- loading or unloading cargo using cranes, conveyor belts or pipes
- positioning and securing containers on freight ships
- using forklift trucks, electric trolleys or other machinery to move cargo to storage areas on shore
- tying and untying the ships' ropes when arriving and leaving port
- maintaining equipment and machinery.
As a marine operative you could be:
- moving buoys and markers in and out of the water
- fuelling vessels
- operating vessels and using radio and radar systems, usually under supervision
- transporting passengers and crew from shore to ship.
As a passenger operative you could be:
- loading and unloading baggage to and from the ship
- directing vehicles and assisting passengers getting on and off the ship
- checking travel documents
- providing travel information on sailing times, weather and local facilities.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
The starting salary for port operatives is usually around £15,000 a year. This can rise up to around £20,000 a year for passenger operatives, £25,000 for marine operatives and £30,000 for stevedores.
- Stevedore and marine operation duties are outdoors, in all weathers, and indoors in ship cargo holds and storage areas onshore.
- Work can be physically demanding and you may have to work at heights.
- Passenger operative duties can be outdoors and in a harbour or port office.
- In all cases, you would work shifts, including early mornings, evenings and weekends, and you may be on call.
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- Formal qualifications are not usually required, but a good level of general education is useful.
- You could get in through a Modern Apprenticeship in Maritime Occupations: Port Operations pathway.
- Depending on your specific role, a driving licence may be useful or even necessary.
- Due to some restrictions on the operation of equipment, you may need to be 18 years old before undertaking stevedore or marine operation duties.
- Depending on your role, you may need to have a medical.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
- good communication skills
- good teamworking skills
- a reasonable level of fitness
- customer service skills, especially working as a passenger operative
- good practical skills
- an awareness of health and safety procedures
- the ability to follow instructions and explain them to others
- to be willing to work flexibly.
- Training lasts around 15 months and involves both on the job and off the job training.
- You would study for a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Level 2 in Port Operations at SCQF Level 5.
- You might undertake additional courses that include health and safety awareness and first aid.
- Depending on your duties, you may undergo training for the operation of forklift trucks, cranes and other equipment.
- With experience and qualifications you could become a supervisor.
- You could do the SVQ Level 3 Supervision of Port Operations to help you progress.
- You might move into port operations management.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
Maritime Skills Alliance
The Maritime Skills Alliance designs and promotes qualifications and apprenticeships for the UK’s maritime sector.
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