Pearl Seaways

Press Release


Date: 1 March 2019

This National Apprenticeship Week (4-8 March 2018), DFDS wants to help change the maritime industry. Through promoting its apprenticeship schemes, DFDS hopes to boost seafarer ratings by encouraging those looking for a career path or wanting to change careers, to consider training for a role at sea with them.

In September 2019, the ferry company hopes to take on a full cohort of apprentices, which amounts to nine deck and three engine apprentices. They currently have eight apprentices in training; five on the deck scheme and three on the engine scheme.

Since launching the apprenticeship scheme in 2012, DFDS has seen three groups of deck apprentices and two groups of engineering apprentices qualify and take up full-time employment within the company. In total 14 have successfully completed an apprenticeship with the business.

Oliver Williams from Deal, recently completed his Maritime Studies: Able Seafarer (Deck), having started his apprenticeship with the business in 2016; "I heard about the apprenticeship scheme through a friend and after some further research in to how best to begin a career at sea, I felt that DFDS was the right path for me", said Oliver.

"A typical day as an apprentice involves a lot of training and hard work" he added, "but you adjust to the life on board, and the crew make it very easy to settle in".

Oliver passed out of his apprenticeship in October 2018, alongside fellow trainees Gary Steer, Jack Wilmshurst and Sean Knight on the deck scheme and Thomas Dignan on the engine scheme. Oliver, Gary and Jack have all secured jobs as Efficient Deck Hands with DFDS and are in the process of applying for their Able-Bodied Seafarer tickets, while Sean has been placed on a Cadetship program with City of Glasgow, studying HNC Nautical Science, in order to obtain his Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency. Thomas Dignan is also still with the company working as a Hotel Repair Man.

"I'm aiming to work my way up towards the bridge and progress as far as I can" Oliver said, "the apprenticeship is a tough course to complete but it's worth it!"

Gemma Griffin, Vice President of HR and Crewing at DFDS commented: "We are delighted to be able to provide career opportunities for people in our local community here in Dover and surrounding areas. A career at sea really is exciting, challenging and rewarding. We offer Apprenticeships in the area of Deck working and Navigating; Engineering and Catering/Onboard Services onboard our vessels and in various other disciplines ashore such as IT, Administration and Management.

"At this time of the year when so many young people are considering their post GCSE future, I would urge students and parents alike to consider an apprenticeship in your chosen field or interest as a real and viable alternative to Sixth Form and University. Apprenticeships really do provide young people with key skills and attributes that employers want and need for the future."

DFDS offers two apprenticeship schemes; the Deck Scheme which sees students qualify as Able Seafarers, working in the deck department as a watchman and assisting with loading and unloading the ship; and the Engine Scheme which sees apprentices work towards becoming Marine Fitters within the engineering team, who are responsible for maintaining and repairing the ships.

DFDS will soon be launching a maritime caterer apprenticeship giving people interested in cooking or becoming a chef the opportunity to become fully trained chefs and ships cooks opening doors both on land and sea.

The 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.

For more information on the apprenticeship schemes, visit

Notes to Editors

Gemma Griffin chairs the Employment Committee at the UK Chamber of Shipping. This sets the strategic direction on seafarers' living and working conditions, equality, minimum wage, union relations, seafarer immigration, recruitment and training, occupational health and safety, human element, and standards of training. Gemma led the Employer Leadership Group in developing the standards for the trailblazer rating apprenticeships, matching industry requirements and the syllabus for deck, engine and catering departments.

DFDS offers three apprenticeship schemes; The Deck Scheme which sees students qualify as Able Seafarers, working in the deck department as a watchman and assisting with loading and unloading the ship; the Engine Scheme which works towards becoming Marine Fitters within the engineering team, responsible for maintaining and repairing the ships; and the new Catering Scheme which will see students qualify as Maritime Caterers, working as chefs in the ship's galley to prepare the food served on board.

Seafarers UK is a charity that has been helping people in the maritime community for over 100 years, by providing vital support to seafarers in need and their families. Seafarers Awareness Week was launched in 2010 and runs every year in June. A list of events taking place to mark the week can be found through the following link:

For further press information, please contact: Elsa Findlay / Charlotte Wright / Arabella Halfhide / Katie Raby Rooster PR T : +44 (0)20 3440 8930


DFDS Press Office 01304 874052

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.


DFDS named as Europe's Leading Ferry Operator 2023!

We are honoured to announce that DFDS has been awarded the prestigious title of ‘Europe's Leading Ferry Operator 2023’ in the World Travel Awards – our 12th consecutive win! This is a testament to the exceptional service provided by the dedicated team behind every journey.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted and supported us.