The Port of Liverpool has taken on its largest batch of apprentices for 20 years - including its first female apprentice in mechanical engineering.
Twelve apprentices have been taken on at the port - which handles more than 33 million tonnes of cargo each year.
They will study at the Maritime and Engineering College North West in Birkenhead during the four-year scheme.
Among them is Megan Pickering, 19, from Runcorn, Cheshire, who said it was a "very exciting prospect".
"It is an exciting opportunity because it is very rare.
"To be able to get this kind of education, and get paid for it, is amazing. Some people go to university and all they come out with is debt.
"I'm getting all of this - and a livelihood - for free."
The apprentices are studying in either electrical or mechanical engineering.
Dave McEwan, senior engineer at the Port of Liverpool in Seaforth, said Miss Pickering was the only woman to apply this year.
"Last year we had no female applicants, this year Megan was the only one and she came across very well in the interviews," he said.
"She was one of the top candidates."
Miss Pickering will see work start on the port's £305m deep water container terminal, Liverpool 2, which is due to open in 2015.
It is hoped the project will create 5,000 jobs and bring the world's largest container ships to the River Mersey.