PORT operator Forth Port has cut the turf on a new training academy in Grangemouth.

The new facility has been designed to provide opportunities and flexibility for employees to broaden their skills and enhance their careers and job satisfaction.

Charles Hammond, group chief executive of Forth Ports was joined at the ‘turf-cutting’ ceremony by Forth Ports’ 11 apprentices and three graduates along with Kristine Hale, employer services manager at Skills Development Scotland.

The 420m sq training academy will provide additional in-house facilities for equipment skills training and new classrooms for safety and soft skills programmes – as well as expanding the existing training and education offering to customers and tenants.

Following a tender process, Bathgate based CM Steel Buildings Limited has been appointed to design and build the training academy with the completion expected to be at the end of this year.

This is a key strategic investment in Forth Port’s long term focus on skills, qualifications and personal development for all employees across its Scottish operations including the Ports of Dundee, Leith, Rosyth and Grangemouth.

Forth Ports also has an award winning Logistics Academy located at its port in Tilbury on the Thames.

Commenting on the ceremony, Hammond said: “This is an important investment for Forth Ports as we begin the creation of a specialist training academy in Grangemouth to continuously develop and enhance the skills of our current and future workforce.

“People are key to our business’s success and with this new facility, not only will individuals benefit, but so will our customers.

“In our 50th year of operation as Forth Ports, the Academy will also support the work we do with schools, colleges and local community projects.”

Forth Ports describes itself as a dynamic UK-based multimodal ports owner and operator. It owns and operates eight commercial ports in the UK – Tilbury on the Thames, Dundee on the Firth of Tay and six on the Firth of Forth – Leith , Grangemouth , Rosyth , Methil, Burntisland and Kirkcaldy.

Grangemouth is Scotland’s largest container port and lies at the centre of Scotland’s industrial heartland. The port is situated midway between the main Scottish cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and is served by the M9 motorway, which links it to the national motorway network, and is also rail linked.

Approximately nine million tonnes of cargo are handled through the dock facilities each year. Of this, 2.5m tonnes is dry cargo, which represents incoming raw materials for Scottish industry and outgoing finished product.

As Scotland’s main container terminal, the port handles about 150,000 containers per year. As much as 30 per cent of Scotland’s gross domestic product (GDP) goes through the port.

It is the UK’s largest feeder port and the only one that exports more than it imports.