This year’s ESPO Award celebrates the role that ports can play in demonstrating the best strategies in making schools and universities aware of their local port and its activities. The five ports shortlisted for this year’s Award, Antwerp, Bremen, Dublin, Guadeloupe and Valencia all succeed in creating the interest of the local schools and universities in the work of the port.
ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects, before the winner is announced at a ceremony at the Albert Hall in Brussels on 10 November.
Project "Creating an outstanding experience for future employees in the Port of Antwerp",
Port Authority of Antwerp (Belgium)
ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2015! Could you briefly describe your project?
Antwerp Port Authority: Our paper ‘Creating an outstanding experience for future employees in the Port of Antwerp’ describes the various practical initiatives aimed at convincing families, young children, teenagers, the 18+ and students of how the port is a great place to work. It all begins with getting young and old alike interested in the port and its wide range of activities. As nearly 60,000 people are employed directly in the port area, it goes without saying that the various initiatives and collaboration arrangements must involve the entire port community as much as possible.
ESPO: Why do you think it is important for a port to engage with schools and universities?
Antwerp Port Authority: The strong partnerships within the port community are constantly putting their weight behind new and existing initiatives that create confidence in the port as an employer based on a single, shared value, namely the belief in the future generation! We try to make young people, school pupils and students ‘feel at home in the port’. In the long term we seek to attract sufficient numbers of talented young people with the right qualifications to fill vacancies, especially for some types of key jobs specifically in the logistics and industrial sectors.
ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2015?
Antwerp Port Authority: The focus on young people is one of the social themes into which the Port Authority puts great effort. In fact it forms one of the specific objectives in the Port Authority’s 2014 – 2018 Business Plan, namely tackling the social theme of ‘young people’. This in turn is based on the vision that ‘people make the port’. The port is the largest employer in the wider Antwerp region. The day-to-day efforts of all these employees are crucial for the success of the port. The port’s very good labour productivity and the high level of education and training mean that the human factor (human capital) plays an important role in making the Port of Antwerp an attractive place for companies. It is very much in the interests of the Port Authority and its partners to maintain this climate of confidence, and so it is devoted to ensuring a steady supply of motivated, qualified and talented employees.
One of the biggest challenges the Port of Antwerp is facing is to make people familiar with the port and its activities. Collaboration between the port and primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities can lead to more young people and students forming a positive image of the port as a potential employer. In general we have to make the port visible and keep the doors open, so as to make young people interested in working in the port. We have to give them a clear picture of the port companies and their activities. In collaboration with its various partners, the Antwerp Port Authority is doing everything possible to get young people back into the port.
In our paper you will discover the different partnerships for families, young children, teenagers, the 18+ and students in detail. Some examples:
- For families: we strongly believe that discovering the port starts in the cradle. For the past two years, the Port Authority has been organising bus tours based on the concept of letting families become acquainted with the port in a child-friendly way;
- For youngsters (12-18 years old): there is the success of the tailor-made visits organised by the Port Centre: nearly 30,000 pupils (70% of total visitors) were given an introduction to the port in 2014;
- For the young adults (+ 18 years old): the formal collaboration agreements between the Port Authority and the University of Antwerp since 2008 and the Antwerp Management School since 2011 bring students closer to the port. Through these collaborations, the challenges the port is currently facing find their way into teaching options in the different faculties.
ESPO: Besides having the ESPO Award winner statute, what would the Award further mean to you?
Antwerp Port Authority: It's always satisfying to get recognition, so first of all we will thank all our people personally. It is thanks to the port’s motivated personnel – ‘the front-line ambassadors’ – that we are able to realise this project.
To stand still is to regress, so the Port Authority will continue its efforts for social integration with the outside world, in close collaboration with the different partners in the port community. Visits to the port generate a feel-good factor and a unique experience thanks to the varied collaboration between the Port Authority, the Port Centre, Alfaport-Voka, primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and Talent Stream. The Port Authority considers it very important to constantly re-examine all the initiatives and to grow them in line with the present social context. Over the years e.g. the Port Centre has developed greatly in order to reflect changes in society and the economy. The driving force of the visits is job promotion, in particular as regards choice of studies and job. The emphasis lies on discovering the port and getting people interested in port jobs. As for the colleges and universities, we also present the various collaboration arrangements set up by the Port Authority aimed at making students familiar with the economic and social importance of the port, in particular as regards sustainability.
ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?
Antwerp Port Authority: We’ve published the ESPO Press on our website and announced the great news of our nomination with the four other ports in our e-newsletter ‘Radar’ (we publish this newsletter monthly and send it out to 15,000 stakeholders, e.g. national and international customers, citizens, residents, journalists, politicians, people interested in Port of Antwerp news, …).
On our intranet ‘Port of Antwerp’, we also made the ESPO Press available for all employees. We are also preparing an awareness campaign after the ESPO Award with a press release distributed to our journalists, preparing an interview with our CEO about this subject within the specialised press. Furthermore, we will distribute a brochure (in Dutch and English) in all our important public venues in the Port of Antwerp such as the MAS Havenpaviljoen, the Port Centre in Lillo, in our different offices etc. We also plan a direct mail to specific groups of important stakeholders familiar with this subject.
On November 25th, the Port Authority organises a marketing event for the port community where we will discuss the ESPO Award and our social integration project with schools and universities.
Last but not least, we will continue working closely together with our partners for succeeding our integration projects in the Port of Antwerp with schools and universities. We believe in the future and the young children, teenagers, the 18+ and students need to believe in us.