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 "Port Communities Educational Support Programme",
Port of Dublin (Ireland)
ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2015! Could you briefly describe your project?
Port communities in Dublin have been impoverished by the great reduction in employment opportunities caused by the industrialisation of cargo handling beginning in the 1960’s with the growth of unitised freight. Dublin Port Company (DPC) has created a multi-faceted programme to help increase employment options within the disadvantaged communities that provided the port’s workforce in the past:
- Early Learning Initiative: Not all homes provide the environment needed for a young child to succeed in school. DPC partners with a local university (The National College of Ireland) to support the Parent Child Home Programme (PCHP), which supports children from 18 months up to three years old to learn through play and encourages attentive parenting.
- Technology in schools: Children in disadvantaged schools have the same needs for technology in education as those from wealthier areas. DPC provides technology such as white boards and computers to local schools. Most recently, we launched a five year iPad Programme in Ringsend College, where new students received their own iPad. The programme will be self-sustaining after its initial five years to support future generations of children.
- Scholarships Programme: In the past, few children from local communities progressed into university education, often due to a lack of financial resources. The scholarships programme helps to provide essential support to purchase books and bus/train tickets, and to meet general living expenses.
- Sport: Sport is an essential part of education and as part of our programme, DPC supports soccer, Gaelic football and hurling teams in local schools and in local communities. With this support, the opportunity to combine learning and sport in such a way as to avoid anti-social activity helps to create normal healthy opportunities for young people to develop.
ESPO: Why do you think it is important for a port to engage with schools and universities?
Engagement with schools and universities has dual benefits for DPC. Not only does it address our strategic CSR objectives of strengthening the bond between the port and local communities, but it also addresses the need to improve the educational standards in the area and to promote further understanding and support for the development of the port. Furthermore, DPC recognises the changing nature of the operational requirements in the port industry and we are cognisant of our responsibility to provide opportunities for students to acquire and develop skills that will be required in the port in the future.
ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2015?
Our educational programmes are in their fifteenth year and cover a wide range of areas encouraging an appreciation of life-long learning as well as promoting a better understanding of the port and its operations and the integral part it plays in the economic wellbeing of the city and the country. Supporting educational programmes and providing more people with access to the benefits of education is a cornerstone of our CSR strategy as well as our Soft Values strategy. We believe this will have long ranging benefits, not only for the recipients of the education but also for the future of the port.
As well as the educational benefit to the individuals, there are also wider societal benefits. The study of how wintering water birds use Dublin Bay will help us to understand the environmental workings of the area in which we operate and help to identify ways in which we can protect it. The cultural impact of our programmes also brings an awareness of the port to the inhabitants of the city and reminds us of the close historical links that Dubliners have with the port.
ESPO: Besides having the ESPO Award winner statute, what would the Award further mean to you?
Winning the ESPO Award would be a huge achievement for DPC. Not only would the Award validate the work of the programme, it would also encourage us to find new and meaningful ways to improve the education standards of those living in the vicinity of Dublin Port. We would also hope that the Award would inspire other organisations operating within Dublin Port to undertake similar projects. In doing so, the bond with the local communities would be strengthened further and skills and talent in the area of port operations would be progressed into the future.
ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?
DPC looks for ways to promote and develop the work of the port and the connection with local communities. We host students from international port cities to share knowledge with them and develop closer working relationships within port communities. The work of undergraduate students has prompted further investigation by DPC into the types of fuel used in pilot boats. Post graduate students are currently undertaking academic research which will provide an insight into the environmental and cultural aspects of the port. We will showcase some of these findings during the ESPO Conference in Dublin in 2016. Also, we actively participate with companies and organisations in Dublin’s Docklands to share our experience of working with local communities including the area of education. Being recognised in the ESPO Award will help us to raise interest in our educational programme and, hopefully, encourage other companies to join us in our initiatives.