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Port of London apprentice thinks they are an excellent route to work

A young man who’s been taken on full time at the Port of London Authority (PLA) is proving that apprenticeships work.

Charlie Henry, 20, jumped at the chance to forge a career for himself three years ago and says it was one of the best decisions he ever made. After recently being made a full-time assistant building tradesperson with the Port of London Authority, Charlie thinks anyone who’s wondering what to do with their future could not do any better than take up an apprenticeship.

In this, the 10th annual National Apprenticeship Week, the government is encouraging more people to choose them as a fast track to a great career.

Charlie, from Rochester, Kent, said: “Having left school I worked in an office for a year but it wasn’t for me so I applied for the apprenticeship with the PLA. I’d been wondering what to do, and when I found this opportunity online it sounded ideal.”

When Charlie started the three-year apprenticeship, he did four days a week on-the-job training as well as a course at college on the other day – getting himself an NVQ 2 in building maintenance.

He continues to learn vital skills working in PLA operation on the river and ashore. He has now got himself more qualifications at MidKent College in Maidstone, including a NVQ Level 3 in Built Environment. His duties include maintenance, carpentry, plumbing and a wide range of other jobs.

“I love working here and everyone’s been so supportive from the start. I’m always picking up new skills because there are so many people to learn from. There’s nothing better in a job than being able to learn from people who have a load of knowledge and experience. If I knew someone who was about 16 who was looking for a job, I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship.”

The PLA has a long association with apprenticeships. Several of its current workers, joined as part of an apprenticeship system that’s since evolved. They have gone on to shape long and successful careers with the authority, working as marine services managers and even the harbour master for the Thames through central London.

Two other apprentices are currently working at the PLA, one in marine engineering and the other in electrical engineering. Although the age and academic qualifications needed to take on an apprenticeship vary, PLA apprentices are usually around 16 years old with good GCSE results. Two more apprentices will be taken on this year.

PLA civil engineer Derek Maynard, and Charlie’s department manager, said:

”Charlie’s working very well and we were more than pleased to take him on full time. He’s a very bright lad and has a solid future in the PLA. Apprenticeships work well for people because they come in and learn vital skills ‘on the job’ while learning the theory and academic side of things from their studies.”

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Gareth Dorrian - Corporate affairs writer
E:gareth.dorrian@pla.co.uk, P: 01474 562 251, M: 07711 640 099


  • The PLA works to ensure navigational safety along the tidal Thames, sharing its marine, environmental, planning and other expertise to promote use of the river and safeguard its unique marine environment.
  • The tidal Thames is one of the UK’s busiest waterspaces and is home to the country’s second biggest port by tonnage of goods handled.