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Pearl Seaways

Press Release


Date: 21 June 2018

With an estimated 95% of imports coming to our island nation by ship*, the maritime industry plays a significant role in the economy, yet figures show there’s been a substantial drop in seafarers ratings in the UK since the 1980s and attracting young people to join the industry has been particularly challenging**.

To help tackle the issue, maritime charity Seafarers UK is holding its 9th Seafarers Awareness Week (23-30 June), which will see a number of events promoting the maritime industry and the employment opportunities within. Each year the government chooses a new theme, with 2018 set to be the ‘Year of Engineering’.

DFDS​ launched its apprenticeship programme in 2012 to encourage young people in the South East of England to choose a career in the maritime industry. The programme is aimed at 17-24 year olds, with a Deck Scheme, Engine Scheme and Catering Scheme on offer to qualify as Able Seafarers, Marine Fitters and Maritime Caterers, respectively.

Fleet Technical Assistant at DFDS, Bernie Beale, has been working in the maritime industry for 21 years; “I first went to sea as a junior engineer. Over the last 21 years I have worked in various engineering roles both at deep sea and across the English Channel.

“In recent years I have been working with the apprentice intakes at DFDS, providing training and support. It’s important that we encourage young people in the area to consider this as a career that they can look forward to and grow in,” he continued. “I would advise any youngsters who are curious about the industry to try it. First-hand experience gives you a real sense of what it is like to be on board.”

To help young people in the Dover area do this, DFDS has been working with East Kent College to offer students work experience on board. Student Zoe Lawton, recently did just this. “I’m studying engineering at college and met DFDS at a local jobs fair earlier this year. The team on the stand were so helpful and got me really involved, so with the help of my college I did some work experience with them. I loved it and this September I will be starting an engineering apprenticeship with them.” When speaking of her future, the 16-year-old added “my aim is to become the first female Chief Engineer at DFDS”.

In 2017, DFDS was the first UK maritime company to recruit apprentices for a brand new maritime catering apprenticeship programme. Three new apprentices joined the scheme, making the most recent intake 12-strong. Since the apprenticeship programme started in 2012, DFDS has seen two groups of deck apprentices and one group of engineering apprentices qualify and take up full-time jobs with the company this year and in 2019.

Gemma Griffin, Vice President of HR and Crewing at DFDS said “I am delighted to be involved in an initiative that not only provides career opportunities for local young people but also puts careers at sea on the map nationally. We are very proud of all our seafarer’s who work tirelessly to give great experiences to our customers whilst ensuring a safe and comfortable journey at all times. I am particularly proud that Bernie is passing the baton of 21 years’ experience over to Zoe as she starts what I hope will be a long and successful career at DFDS.”

DFDS’ apprenticeships are offered in partnership with the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), the shipping industry’s central body for promoting and developing sector-specific education and training skills.

The schemes last between 18 and 24 months and are aimed at 17 to 24 year olds with a minimum of Grade C Maths and English at GCSE level.


For further press information, please contact: Elsa Findlay / Charlotte Wright / Rachel Sewell / Katie Raby Rooster PR T : +44 (0)20 3440 8930 E : DFDS@rooster.co.uk www.rooster.co.uk

About DFDS:

DFDS is Northern Europe’s largest integrated shipping and logistics company, with a network of around 30 routes and 50 freight and passenger ships.

DFDS prides itself on offering world-class facilities and services and the widest choice of ferry routes into northern Europe.

In the UK, the company operates passenger ferry services on routes from Dover to Calais, Dover to Dunkirk, Newcastle to Amsterdam and Newhaven to Dieppe.

DFDS has been named ‘Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator’ for eight years running (2012-2019), as well as the ‘World’s Leading Ferry Operator’ for the last seven years (2011-18).

DFDS currently operates up to 54 sailings a day between Dover and France on its Dover-Dunkirk and Dover-Calais routes. DFDS also offers two daily sailings between Newcastle and Amsterdam. In addition, the DFDS network includes a passenger and freight service between Newhaven to Dieppe, which has four daily sailings and is operated by Transmanche Ferries.

For further information about DFDS, or to find out about the latest sailing times, fares and offers across all routes from the UK, click here.

Vote European Awards 2024

Championing the Seas!  

We're elated to announce that DFDS has been named the World's Leading Ferry Operator 2023 at the prestigious World Travel Awards – our 13th consecutive win!

This accolade cements our commitment to providing unparalleled experiences for our passengers and reflects the hard work of our exceptional team members who are dedicated to ensuring each voyage is as exceptional as the next.

We are also proud to announce that we have been nominated as Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator 2024 and we’d love your support once again.