Student turns teacher

APM Terminals has turned an abandoned building on the Callao terminal site into a highly regarded training centre, providing transferable skills and a career path for a variety of workers and employees.

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“I was very happy to be a stevedore port worker. I liked my job and made many good friends there, but you always want to do more and continue developing.” says Marcos Quesada, Port Stevedore Instructor in APM Terminals Callao.

Marcos Quesada has spent most of his adult life in the port business, working a variety of jobs on the docks. His last job was as a tally clerk, counting cargo going in and out of the terminal.

Today, two years after attending the first classes held at the training centre in APM Terminals Callao, the 34-year-old former stevedore’s life and career are quite different.
He is certified to operate nearly every machine in the terminal and he’s become a unique and sought-after teacher, a ‘Port Stevedore Instructor’, one of only six in Peru to be recognised by the country’s port authority.

“That was the starting point of a new era in my port career and my personal life,” says Quesada, a husband and father of two. “I was very happy to be a stevedore port worker. I liked my job and made many good friends there, but you always want to do more and continue developing.”

Everyone wins
The APM Terminals Callao training centre is a point of pride in the terminal and the company. More than 1,000 people have sat in one or more of its five classrooms to learn about equipment operations, safety and management-related subjects since it opened its doors in October 2012. Many of them, like Marcos, have received training in several areas.

“There is no facility like this in all of Latin America, and there’s going to be a continuing need for the kinds of skills we are teaching here, not just in our terminal here but also in Latin America,” says Carlos Teixeira, Head of ­Safety for APM Terminals Callao and the man behind much of the centre’s success.

The centre has had such success in its short existence that outside operators have taken notice and expressed interest in hiring trainers like Quesada to train their workers. APM Terminals has applied to Peruvian authorities for certification to offer services externally and the application is under review.

“Training our direct competitors of course would not benefit us, but helping the Peruvian port industry improve the general skill level of its workers certainly would. Many of these people are partners, suppliers, customers and potential employees for us,” says Teixeira.

Cranes, computers and textbooks

When the training centre opened, Quesada was one of 600 who applied for a position as a ‘stevedore trainer.’

At the same time, he began taking courses whenever he could to learn to operate the different machines in the terminal.

Currently, he is finishing his training to operate the rubber-tyre gantry cranes that position containers in the yard. In a few months, he hopes to be certified to operate the terminal’s giants, the ship-to-shore cranes. For a person whose career was always very operational, the challenges of learning to teach have been much tougher, but also very rewarding, he says.

“It was very difficult at first, learning the different aspects of teaching, also learning to use computers, but we were very motivated as the first class of trainers,” he says. “I believe the most exciting part has been learning to communicate effectively, not just with trainees, but with my colleagues, managers, visitors and even in personal meetings.”

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Pride and empowerment
Teixeira says the takeaway for trainees like Quesada
is much more than just a new skill or operational ­certification.

“These guys work hard and one of the biggest changes I see in them is the increased confidence. That is really something,” says Teixeira. “They know they have picked up a lot of different skills that they can use and I think the ones that are trainers now are even more proud of being able to pass on those skills to others,” he says.

“I speak up now in front of groups of people, that was not something I would do before,” says Quesada. “And I’m comfortable trying and learning new things. Becoming an instructor on stevedoring has allowed me to share my knowledge as well as to develop training material. This has given me a lot of satisfaction and pride.”