Chancellor welcomes ABP’s investment at Southampton

Chancellor welcomes ABP’s investment at Southampton and expansion of apprenticeship programme

During a visit to the Port of Southampton George Osborne heard news of Associated British Ports’ plans to invest more than £12 million in its vehicle handling facilities at the port.  The level of investment will create more than 5,700 new vehicle storage spaces for vehicles from some of the UK’s biggest automotive manufacturers.

ABP also announced the continuation of its policy of investing in young people by doubling the number of marine apprentices on its industry leading training programme. It is also launching a marine pilotage apprenticeship, which will be based at its South Wales ports.

The vehicle handling investment comes as the finishing touches are applied to a £6 million investment in the port’s Europe-leading turnaround cruise business, with improvements to the Mayflower Cruise Terminal.

Already the UK’s leading vehicle handling port, Southampton is experiencing significant growth in the volume of vehicles on the quayside, with the number rising 11% from 750,000 in 2013 to 834,000 in 2014.

As a result, ABP is investing in a five storey facility in the Eastern Docks capable of handling 3,200 vehicles and a dedicated inspection area.  Work is due to start in May and complete in March 2016.  In the Western Docks, more than £3 million is being invested to create a 12-acre open air car handling facility with 2,500 spaces for cars imported into the UK.

Across the group ABP supports more than 50 apprenticeship positions and that commitment is growing. As well as in marine operations, it has apprentices specialising in areas covering key port operations, including engineering, electrical and administration skills.

ABP currently employs nine apprentices on its unique Marine Operations Apprenticeship scheme and is looking to double that number with 2015’s intake.  The scheme, which is the only one of its kind in the country, is based around the National Occupational Standards for Port Operations.

During his visit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said: “A key part of our long term economic plan is ensuring we have the right skills and the right infrastructure to help great British businesses export their products and create manufacturing jobs here in the UK.

“Today ABP is not just investing in young people by expanding their apprenticeship programme.  They are also building a port that will support jobs in the car industry across the country, so that wherever you are in the world, you cannot fail to see cars Made in Britain.”

Nick Ridehalgh, ABP Director Southampton, commented: “The Port of Southampton is a key part of the supply chain for some of Britain’s biggest export success stories.  Our investment is proof both of the international appetite for British made vehicles and of our commitment to support that growth with premier class facilities.”

Stuart Wardale, ABP Training and Development Manager, added: “ABP is a growing business and apprenticeships for young people are a key part of our strategy to continue to deliver commercial success.  That’s why we’re increasing our commitment to develop more apprenticeships and ensure the business has the skills we need long into the future.”