Future Ports Workforce

This workstream explores the evolving nature of ports, by considering the UK ports workforce and anticipate future skills needs. This Workstream is currently ongoing, and a Skills Intelligence Model is currently in development.


The aim of this workstream is to consider the UK Ports. The modern port is a significantly different place to the port of history. It is increasingly shaped by forces such as globalisation of supply chains automation and digitisation. This workstream analyses how the ports workforce is expected to change and how the sector can best transition.  

Current Situation:

The MSC produced a report on this topic in March 2022 which provided several recommendations. The full report can be found via the link below.

Following this report in December 2022, the MSC partnered with Port Skills and Safety and and National Skills for Rail (NSAR) to commence a Skills Intelligence Model (SIM). Work on this is ongoing and updates will be provided in due course.

Further Information and Background:

The major port operators undertook a piece of research to explore the three interlinked key dimensions of change, the relationships between them and how potential solutions for how they might be addressed. The overall ‘exam question’ was ‘what do the likely future ports workforce and ways of working look like and how can the sector transition from the position today’.

The workstream commenced in late 2020 and the University of Strathclyde Business School were  selected to undertake the desk research. Interviews occurred during 2021 and a small working Group made up Commissioners and HR Directors from the major ports group was formed.

On Monday 28 March 2022 the report was launched at a dissemination webinar to share the report recommendations including:

  • Clarifying which body is leading on port skills
  • More joint working within the ports and maritime sector to drive improvements in diversity
  • Undertaking a systematic review of how skills are used now, and anticipated changes in skills/job requirements in the future
  • ‘Eating the elephant’ a mouthful at a time – focused best practice sharing and ‘sprints’
  • Investigating priority near-term skills gaps/shortages, including learning lessons from other sectors
  • Developing more proactive approaches to upskilling, reskilling, and retraining the current workforce
  • Working together to inform a better skills policy and funding landscape
  • Developing the HR capability across the sector