Level 2 Port Operative

Course Overview 

Port Operatives have key roles in enabling businesses to deliver on time and safely. Cargo can include any goods imported to, or exported from the UK, such as cars, food, manufactured goods and raw materials and the work they do depends on the type of ship or cargo. Operatives in larger ports tend to specialise, but smaller ports often require them to perform a wide range of duties including loading, unloading, handling and securing cargo (including general, bulk, project, liquid and freight containers).


A Port Operative may be required to work on board any type and size of moored or anchored vessel in a port.  Port Operatives typically work in teams under the direction of a supervisor and are an essential part of the core function of a port and maintaining a safe environment.


Course Length

15 - 18 months

Levy Funding

Maximum £8,000 - Non levy employer contribution (5%)

Apprentice Requirements

Have the right to work in England.

Be 16 or older.

Individual employers will determine their own entry requirements but due to the nature of the role it is expected that candidates will meet certain medical standards of physical health.

Possession of a driving licence is likely to be advantageous.

Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn your chosen trade.

Dedication and commitment to coursework and the job.

English and Maths GCSE (or equivalent) grade D or 3. If you do not meet the Maths and English requirements, Marine Society will assist you in gaining your Functional Skills qualification prior to End Point Assessment.


By the end of the apprenticeship, a port operative will be able to do the following:

  • Cargo Handling: Be proficient in handling different types of cargo, including containers, bulk materials, and general cargo. This involves using equipment such as cranes, forklifts, and conveyors to load and unload vessels, trucks, and containers.


  • Safety and Security: You will develop a strong understanding of safety protocols and security measures specific to port operations.


  • Equipment Operation: Gain skills in operating and maintaining various types of machinery and equipment used in port operations. This can include cranes, straddle carriers, reach stackers, tugboats, and other specialized equipment.


  • Port Operations Support: Assist in the efficient coordination of port activities, such as monitoring vessel movements, communicating with personnel and stakeholders, and coordinating cargo flows.


  • Berthing and Mooring: You will learn how to safely berth and moor vessels, ensuring they are secured to the dock or wharf properly. This involves attaching and adjusting mooring lines, positioning fenders, and implementing proper techniques for different vessel types.


  • Teamwork and Communication: You will develop effective communication and teamwork skills to collaborate with port personnel, vessel crew, truck drivers, and other stakeholders.




Career Options and Progression

A Port Operative apprenticeship can lead to various career options and opportunities for progression within the port and maritime industry. Here are just some of the roles you could obtain:

Stevedore or Dockworker, Container Operative, Cargo Operative, Port Plant Operator, Roll-On/roll-off Driver, Port Warehousing Operative, Passenger Operative and Ferry operative.

Apprentices can progress onto Port Agent L3.


Occupational Map (Cargo Operatives)

Occupational Map (Passenger, Ferry & Cruise Operatives)


Further information

Apprenticeship Standard and End Point Assessment