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Port Operative apprenticeship

Apprenticeships |

The port operative apprenticeship can be used to develop new entrants and to upskill or reskill the existing workforce.

Typical job titles

Port operative, stevedore, container operative, cargo operative, port plant operator, roll-on/roll-off driver, port warehousing operative, passenger operative, ferry operative.

The introduction of the Port Operative level 2 apprenticeship standard has afforded our latest recruits the opportunity to rapidly develop their knowledge, skills and capability in port operations.

The completion of this nationally recognised industry qualification serves as a great start to a very exciting career for our port operatives in the port and shipping industry.


Occupational profile

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

A port operative may be required to work on board any type and size of moored or anchored vessel in a port. Port operatives typically work in teams under the direction of a supervisor and are an essential part of the core function of a port and maintaining a safe environment. Working hours may include unsocial hours and working outdoors in inclement weather in probably. There may be some on-call requirement. Shift and weekend work is likely.

The port operative’s occupation is most commonly broken down into cargo and passenger roles:

Cargo operatives safely and efficiently load and discharge vessels in a wide range of locations. They handle cargo commodities which can include break bulk, dry bulk, liquid bulk, RoRo and containers. They enable the onward movement of all cargo types in support of warehousing and storage operations.

Passenger, ferry and cruise operatives safely and efficiently load and unload passengers, their baggage and vehicles from vessels. They monitor travel documentation and assist 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.


This is a level 2 apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

Individual employers will determine their own entry requirements but due to the nature of the role it is expected that candidates will meet certain medical standards of physical health. Possession of a driving licence is likely to be advantageous.

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths must achieve this and take the test for level 2 prior to taking their end-point assessment. However, for those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement the apprenticeships English and maths minimum requirement is entry level 3 and British Sign Language qualification are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.

Typical duration

12-18 months, excluding end point assessment.


With further training, progression could be to the Port Marine Operations Officer apprenticeship or to a Port Agent apprenticeship.


This apprenticeship has a maximum funding cap of £8,000.

The apprenticeship programme is funded in one of the following ways via the employer’s apprenticeship service account.

Non-levy paying employersLevy paying employers
100% Government funded if the apprentice is 16-21 years.Paid using the apprenticeship levy.
100% Government funded if the employer has less than 50 employees and the apprentice is 22-24 years and previously been in care or has an education, health and care plan (EHCP).If the levy runs out, the same rules apply as non-levy paying employers.
95% Government funded in all other cases with a 5% employer contribution.

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