Helping Local Businesses in Sheerness Grow

Helping Local Businesses in Sheerness Grow

Peel Ports recently announced a 20 year commitment to growth at Sheerness, with the intention of supporting local businesses and employment opportunities.

One local business, Portside Contractors has been working with Peel Ports for the past two decades. Managing Director Petrina Swift tells her story of how we have helped this independent grow to become one of the biggest maritime recruiters in the area.

This year Portside Contractors celebrate a significant business milestone as we embark on our 20th year in business. We provide recruitment solutions for the maritime industry in Sheerness as part of a long standing partnership with Peel Ports, who are one of the biggest employers in the region.

Along with my business partner Lorraine Wade, we launched the company in 1995 with a team of 15 female staff who gave up their day jobs as barmaids, secretaries, shop assistants and housewives to supply the Port of Sheerness with the skilled quayside workers it needed.

Our role on the quayside was simple at first and we worked anything from five to 60 hours a week – depending on the demands of port trade – checking the cargo which arrived at Sheerness and helping turn the vessels around in the quickest time possible.

As Sheerness grew and developed as a port, so did Portside Contractors and we quickly began to recruit skilled drivers, stevedores, plant operators and crane drivers to help provide the port with the workforce it needed.

It was tough for us in the beginning, as we were a group of young women trying to make it in an industry that is traditionally dominated by men. The port environment is extremely fast-paced, so we had to learn on our feet and very quickly.

We are extremely grateful that Peel Ports provided us with vital support in the beginning and put us all through an intensive training programme in the classroom and on the quayside to help us develop our knowledge of the working port.

Since then, we have been working closely with Peel Ports to develop our business, as well as supporting the first-class service it delivers for its customers at Sheerness. We now employ around 120 people and more than half of the contracted vessel and warehouse operational workforce at Sheerness is provided by Portside Contractors.

Sheerness is one of the busiest commercial ports in the south east, handling around 1.3milllion tonnes of cargo a year – a number which is set to grow by around 130% over the next 20 years. Investment from Peel Ports is key to helping the port handle the demands that this predicted growth will bring.

We have seen Peel Ports’ Master Plan document, which outlines potential expansion options at Sheerness, as well as its commitment to helping create significant employment opportunities for those in the local area.

As industry contractors, we are pleased to hear that Peel Ports will be working closely with local businesses and suppliers such as ourselves and we look forward to supplying the workforce required to carry out these expansion plans.

Here’s to another 20 years in business.


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