PD Ports has called for businesses to offer opportunities to the next generation following a report claiming that the North East has seen the biggest drop in people starting an apprenticeship.

The port operator, which directly employs more than 1,000 people in Teesside, over 80% of which live within ten miles of the port estate, launched its first apprenticeship programme 20 years ago.

It has also launched the largest recruitment drive in the UK ports sector to bring 50 new apprentices into the business.

CEO Frans Calje said, “It's concerning to see the apprenticeship figures dropping in the North East.

“We see apprenticeships as vital building blocks for our future, helping us to attract and nurture talent in key areas in order to build a sustainable and resilient future for ourselves and our customers.

“Over 44% of our Engineering department started their careers at PD Ports as apprentices, including some of our most senior management, demonstrating how the right support and guidance can really equip young people with the futures they deserve.

“There is so much good work already underway in the North East from organisations such as NETA Training, High Tide Foundation, North East School of Shipping, Tees Valley Logistics Academy and Teesside University, to bridge skills gaps and raise awareness of the range of careers available to young people.

"But businesses must continue to engage. It is a duty we must fulfil for the future of our industries.”