Following two years of unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis, PD Ports, the largest private employer in the Tees Valley, is renewing its call for businesses to do all they can to tackle the skills gaps, challenge stereotypes and raise aspirations.

First trialled pre-pandemic in 2019, PD Ports has now officially revamped and relaunched its innovative Teesport Explorers programme as part of a week of International Women’s Day celebrations.

The programme, which aims to give primary school children their first glimpse of potential future careers during a trip around one of the most progressive ports in the UK, will now be rolled out to primary schools across the Tees Valley in order to open the eyes of as many young people as possible.

Kirsten Donkin, Head of PR, Marketing and Communications at PD Ports, said: “Our first pilot programme of the Teesport Explorers was a great success but unfortunately our plans were brought to a halt as the pandemic took hold soon after.

“Instead of being deterred, we have used the past two years to redevelop the programme, build our relationships with local schools and really focus our attention on building a structured set of materials and programmes that will enable us to support the next generation whilst promoting careers in our industry.

“As a business, we have long advocated for our colleagues to do all they can to support young people, especially throughout the pandemic as the outlook for jobs and career prospects looked bleak.

“We recognise that the earlier in life children are exposed to career experiences, the greater the impact and the greater the chance of positively influencing perceptions and that’s why the relaunch of Teesport Explorers is the first step in a range of initiatives we plan to launch as a business to really drive opportunities for generations to come.”

The programme forms part of PD Ports’ widespread commitment to supporting young people and in February, the Company welcomed 30 children from Middlesbrough-based Pennyman Primary Academy on an exclusive re-launch trip to spend time with PD Ports staff from the marketing team, engineering department, harbour police, transport team and operations whilst taking in all the sights and sounds that the port has to offer.

Rachel Reynolds, a Year 5 Teacher at Pennyman who accompanied her class on their visit, said: “The port visit was an incredible opportunity for our children. It was immediately evident that it broadened their horizons and inspired future career choices they may make. We all had a fantastic time and hope we are able to return again someday soon.”

The re-launch of the programme is part of a continuation of PD Ports’  ‘Project Hope’ initiative launched in 2020 to engage partners in business, communities, charity and Government to find new ways to inspire young people.

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