News from the BPA

Terminal Velocity – Emerging technologies and future skills for UK ports

The forces that influence UK port operations are evolving. As the sector responds to new demands, the challenge of creating more sustainable and digitally-optimised port operations is highly likely to impact on the future pipeline of skills and labour requirements in the sector.  

To mark the start of National Careers Week in the UK, today, the British Ports Association (BPA) has released a new report unpacking the future skills agenda for port operators and their supply chain partners. Produced by maritime innovation agency Thetius, this report explores the high level prospects for the ports sector as it adapts to harnessing emerging technologies to stay competitive and remain fit for purpose in a digitally-enabled and decarbonised global supply chain.

Ports in the UK and beyond are rapidly approaching a paradigm shift. Pressure is mounting from the international community, nation states, and the global supply chain for ports to embrace the opportunity new technologies bring to process ever-greater cargo volumes with ever-decreasing impacts on the environment, while continuing to promote the wellbeing of their work forces.

We see a ports sector that is increasingly embracing process optimisation through greater autonomy and a more integrated approach to data sharing between supply chain partners. These changes will impact on skills demands and working environments for port staff. This report considers the implications of technological change in port operations and calls on key stakeholders to consider future port skills as an issue that needs imminent attention.

Matthew Kennney, Head of Research and Intelligence at Thetius

A key part of our Port Futures initiative, this compelling report shines a spotlight on how technological change at ports will have wider implications, putting skills and workforce progression central to the future development of our sector. Port workforces should remain a critical focal point and supporting and developing port staff should be considered essential to success in the coming years.

The UK ports industry is a major employer, providing around 115,000 jobs across the country, often in areas of high deprivation. The BPA is keen to shine a light on the sector during National Careers Week and we will be examining what the findings in this report might mean for the sector.

Richard Ballantyne CEO of the British Ports Association, who represent ports that facilitate 86% of UK port activities

Terminal Velocity was commissioned as part of the BPA’s Port Futures programme which is exploring how future developments in our sector might shape the industry.  The report is also intended to provide insight to the Maritime Skills Commission which is looking at the skills needs of the shipping and ports sector in the UK.