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Why Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers is so vital for Teesside
Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2017
Please find below the interview published on the
Middlesbrough newspaper "The Evening Gazette". The article was published in the paper about a
week ago together with a video interview.
Nikki Sayer FICS of Casper Shipping (Image:
Why is it important that Nikki Sayer is the region's new Vice
Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers? She tells Mike
Hughes that she wants to highlight the crucial work being done
along the length of the Tees
There are 85 glorious miles of the River Tees - so plenty of
chances to see it and experience it as it rises in the Pennines and
flows past Middleton in Teesdale and Barnard Castle, Darlington,
Yarm, Stockton and Middlesbrough and a hundred places between.
For people like Nikki Sayer and the thousands who work on the
river, the Tees is more than a tourist attraction, a fishing
favourite or something they need to cross to get to work. It is the
lifeblood of the region, and it is now her job to try to let as
many people know that and to protect and nurture the industries
that thrive on it.
Nikki works for Casper Shipping, in a bright and modern building
they share with global safety and support company Svitzer just a
few paces from the river and a few yards from
the Riverside Stadium. As the UK's leading
independent port agency company, Casper looks after essentials like
mooring and documentation for vessels arriving and leaving along
They are also members of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers,
and Nikki's appointment last month as the region's first female
Vice Chairman - which will lead to her being chairman for two years
- confirms a long relationship. Casper has been
in Middlesbrough since 1872 and the Institute
of Chartered Shipbrokers was founded 39 years later as the
professional body for all members of the commercial shipping
"I have been in the shipping industry for 20 years now, having
started with British Steel where my boss Howard Dodds pushed me to
get into the institute and take the exams - which I wasn't too sure
about at the time," she admits.
"I was in my early twenties and it just didn't sound like much
fun, but he was the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers chairman and
anyone who worked for him on the shipping side had to be in it. We
are all very passionate about what it does for the industry and the
benefits it can bring, and for me it has taken me round the world
to Dubai for three years and to Australia.
"But I couldn't wait to get back here and into the industry
again. I missed the fact that everyone knows each other and that it
is vibrant and so interesting, particularly when you see what goes
sailing past our window every day.
"I have always loved the job, but because of my experience and
my career I can see the benefit of anybody - man or woman - getting
involved. You feel as if you have really achieved something, and I
am certainly proud that I have got this far because this is not an
industry for the shy and retiring types, so I am passionate about
getting more women involved, because it has always been very
The skills gap is as much of an issue here as anywhere on
Teesside, and while anyone can ask for work on the river, the
commitment needed to get the the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers
exams is the key to many careers. The institute delivers TutorShip
- its main educational programme - directly from its London head
office and through 15 teaching centres worldwide. Every year,
thousands of students sit Professional Qualifying Examinations and
can then apply for membership.
"It really is quite a commitment and I know it can be hard going
when you are young, so we recognise that there need to be other
ways of doing it," said Nikki.
"There are a few ways in without taking the specific exams, and
we are trailblazing a port agency apprenticeship which will
support employers through subsidised training and employment and
also in the provision of training and skills to new employees."
The North East, with about 76 members, is one of the most active
Branches of the Institue, which means it has a higher profile and a
"That is from quite a small area and is a lot more than many
regions, which means we have 76 of the most experienced people in
the industry." said Nikki.
"We need that experience and the young people coming through
because shipping and logistics is only going to grow in an area
like this. Container ships and cruise ships are getting bigger as
the quantity of goods needed around the world increases - just
think of the amount we order online from anywhere across the
"And there are huge range of roles within the sector, not just
on board our ships, but in offices like this at Casper Shipping
where it can almost be a career for life once you know the people
and the terminology and how the business works."
As The Gazette's
Invest in Teesside campaign has been showing, the
skills pipeline starts in the classroom, with an awareness of the
options and the right guidance for the undecided generation.
Logistics covers myriad disciplines, so the pipeline can even start
with a carefully targeted division of that umbrella term into its
"I worked for a while at Middlesbrough College and we did a
'speed dating' session to let as many kids as possible know what
was out there," she says.
"But none of them knew what logistics was, so I told them 'do
you want to earn a lot of money, travel the world and have a job
for life? Then let me tell you about this whole industry that is
"The High Tide charity (co-founded by Casper Shipping Chairman
Kevin Shakesheff and with offices in the building) also plays a
vital part in making young adults and students aware of the
industry at a very early stage. The important thing is that
everyone is trying to pull it all together."
The Gazette has reported on many projects that give great hope
for the future of Teesside, from the arrival of MGT Power and
Sirius Minerals to the masterplan for the future of the former SSI
site. These are all centred around our river, proving its
continuing value as the vein that keeps our heart pumping.
The work of organisations like the Institute is hugely important
in making people aware of its heritage and its value as a job
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