Our website uses cookies so that we can provide a better service. Continue to use the site as normal if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies.


Kickstarters' river trip to meet employment minister

Employment minister Mims Davies MP (second from left) met with Robin Mortimer (fourth from right), PLA chief executive, and the PLA's Kickstarter employees.

“Kickstarters”, recruited by the Gravesend-based Port of London Authority (PLA), as part of a Government scheme to help unemployed young people, travelled up the River Thames to meet the employment minister, Mims Davies MP, at Westminster (10 May).

Seven young people (aged 16- 24) have so far been recruited by the PLA under the scheme, designed to give them experience in a real working environment. It is hoped their six-month placements, funded by the Government, will lead to permanent positions.

  • Mary Ajanaku (22) joined the PLA’s hydrography team (4 May), which works to survey the bed of the tidal River Thames. Raised in Gravesend, she has recently moved to live in Brixton. A graduate in psychology with health studies from De Monfort University, she has previously worked in the finance sector.
  • Isobel Burrowes (23) is a newly recruited to the PLA’s facilities team, which looks after 11 sites, from Richmond Lock to the estuary. A former pupil of Mayfield Grammar School in Gravesend, she is a history of art graduate from Sussex University. Her duties will include reviewing the PLA’s art collection dating back to 1910.
  • Brandon Cripps (19), from Hoo, studied motor vehicle engineering at Bromley College. He will spend his six months placement with the PLA’s marine services team, maintaining river infrastructure along the 95-mile length of the tidal Thames. Prior to the pandemic, he worked temporarily on pleasure boats in central London.
  • Gemma Durkin (24), who worked previously as an admin assistant for a wealth management company, is now part of the PLA’s procurement team. Another Gravesend resident, she studied glassblowing at the University of Creative Arts in Farnham.
  • Sean Holdforth (22) from Welling, graduated in economics and politics from Kent University in 2020. His work with the PLA will focus on environmental data management, in particular finding ways to improve the current data system to be more user-friendly and efficient, to support the PLA’s journey to reach Net Zero by 2040.
  • Enrik Hoxha (22) studied for an IT apprenticeship at St John’s Secondary School in Gravesend. His recruitment to the PLA’s IT team is his first post since completing his studies. He hopes to further his knowledge while on the help desk, assisting colleagues across the organisation, including those working from home, due to the pandemic.
  • Tito Okanlami (24), from Dartford, is a graduate in accounting and finance from Bournemouth University. She is now part of the PLA’s commercial team, where her work includes developing new methods for analysing business. Her local MP, Gareth Johnson said: “I wish Tito the best of luck with this placement. I hope this kickstart at the PLA is the first step in a successful career for her in commerce and business.”

Minister for employment, Mims Davies MP, said: “It’s fantastic to see the PLA backing this Government’s Kickstart scheme – truly buoying the career prospects of our next generation of workers and helping them develop the key skills to thrive in work. There is real potential for progression into permanent roles after the six months, highlighting how our Plan for Jobs is delivering long-term opportunity, as we push to build back better and level up across the country.”

Jackie Doyle-Price MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Ports & Maritime Group, said: “A career in the maritime sector is varied and rewarding, reflected in the roles these young adults are undertaking with the PLA. Young people have been hit hardest by the economic fallout of the pandemic. This scheme provides that all-important first step on the career ladder.”

Robin Mortimer, chief executive of the PLA, said: “With the pandemic seriously affecting young people’s job prospects, we want to do our bit by helping them develop the skills and experience to secure full-time employment. The majority of our recent apprentices have gone on to greater things with us and we hope that will be the case for our new Kickstart trainees too.”

Find out more about working at the Port of London Authority