An official ceremony took place at Channel House, Dover recently, to mark the graduation of eight local young people from P&O Ferries’ Apprenticeship scheme.

The event saw friends, families and colleagues alike come together to watch the successful 2017 intake of graduates receive their SQA Level 2 Diplomas in Maritime Studies, certified by the Merchant Navy Training Board.Each graduate is now successfully employed as either a Deck or Engine Room Rating and is continuing to work towards acquiring further qualifications via the ferry operator.

The two-year course saw the apprentices split their time at sea and in the classroom. On board P&O Ferries’ Dover-Calais vessels the group were given extensive training, supervised by Bosuns and Engine Room Petty Officers. They also spent three one-month periods attending North Kent College, initially for a course in STCW compliance training, before completing final examinations.

Connan Miles, one of the engine apprentices stated: “From starting with no engineering or seafaring experience, I have now seen things I would never have seen if it were not for P&O Ferries, including two refits in Dunkerque and Hamburg. Being a seafarer is not like having a job it is a lifestyle. I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship.”

Mike Willis, Learning and Development Advisor, P&O Ferries added: “I love seeing the Apprentices graduate today, as they have done an amazing job. To see their journey, the changes in them, how they have grown, what they have achieved and to now be qualified as seafarers is brilliant. Well done.”

Chris Bailey, Ship Support Services Director, P&O Ferries continued: “We would not be able to celebrate this success today without the hard work and dedication from a lot of P&O Ferries’ people. In particular, the contribution of Mike Willis has been recognised not only internally but externally too.”

“Mike has been awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service, which is part of the British honours system and awarded for exemplary service and devotion to duty, rewarding those who have set an outstanding example to others. Congratulations Mike.”

Mark Bobby, Chairman, Merchant Navy Training Board, also shared congratulations: “We are proud of your achievements. This is not the end but rather a door opening to the rest of the journey. Where they go now is up to them, there is a set career path and with the help of the MNTB they can go as high as they want to go. The MNTB works to promote and enhance the training of UK Seafarers in order to improve their prospects both here and abroad. This P&O Ferries programme is one which brings out the best in people, having been made possible by both P&O Ferries and the staff of North Kent College.”

P&O Ferries launched its apprenticeship scheme in 2014 and has since welcomed four successful cohorts to its Dover to Calais route. Applications for the next apprenticeships scheme open next summer – to register for job alerts visit