There are many jobs in the maritime sector that cannot be filled due to the lack of trained professionals. To change this, the right groundwork needs to be established at a very early age.
Ocean literacy and Blue Skills are two sides of the same coin that holds the key to this. They are fully intertwined. Enthusiasm for the ocean, drives interest in blue education and careers.
Next to a focus on the young, as ocean aware citizens and being essential for meeting tomorrow’s blue employment demands, there is also a great need for up-and reskilling of the current maritime workforce. Sustainability, digitalisation, and innovation are now required more than ever.
In 2016, the Commission already recognised these challenges when they created a ‘blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills’, with maritime technologies as one of the core sectors.
During the WestMED 2023 Stakeholder Conference, Frederico Ferreira, the Portuguese National Hub for the WestMED and the Atlantic, also confirmed the importance of addressing these fields. He highlighted the benefits of cooperation as it is a common theme across borders and sea basins. Not only to promote the overall attractiveness of blue careers, but also to ensure standardisation of educational qualifications and accreditations for a more flexible mobility of workers, to stay on top of an increasingly demanding market.
A sustainable blue economy starts with Ocean Literacy
Ocean Literacy is defined as ‘the understanding of the ocean’s influence on us, and of our influence on the ocean’. The Ocean Literacy concept has been empowered by many institutions, including the UNESCO and the European Commission.
In 2019, EU Directorate-General Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) launched the European Ocean Coalition ‘EU4Ocean’ aiming to “connect diverse organisations, projects and people that contribute to ocean literacy and the sustainable management of the ocean.”
‘We are Blue Schools’ (Som Escoles Blaves) from Mallorca, winner of the WestMED best project 2023 award, shares this philosophy. They promote Ocean Literacy by bringing the ocean into the classroom for students aged three to eighteen. The approach used, shows a high success rate, and offers considerable replicability potential.
A blueprint for Ocean Literacy amongst the next generation. Meet ‘We are blue schools’.
‘We are Blue Schools’ is an Erasmus+ pilot project that brings environmental awareness and sustainability skills to young people in schools by teaching them the value of the ocean and the influence they have on the ocean.
It is based on the insights of a wide range of international Ocean Literacy experts.
Mallorca was chosen for this project as it is a confined area with shared values, culture, and language. This, to test the effects of an intensified approach in a regional setting to create a higher impact on both the schools and their surrounding communities.
The objectives are twofold:
- Successfully implement an inclusive and comprehensive EU Blue School Network in the confined regional area of Mallorca over the short term of 12 months and certify 100 schools by creating a true grass-roots approach that includes teachers, schools, and the local community (with NGOs, SMEs, local governments and the media)
- Document this approach and create a Blueprint that enables other EU and non-EU regions to follow this example and successfully recruit a large Network of European Blue Schools.
Christian Burgos project coordinator for the initiative and a secondary school teacher himself, is proud of the results achieved so far and confident about reaching the ambitious goal: « we have certified more than 60 schools, each of them with a page in the EU maritime forum, we have involved 5 NGOs to do environmental activities, 10 SMEs who are happy to help by sponsoring costs and 5 public institutions who want to help with the implementation of the projects. We have also been invited multiple times to spread the word of the project on regional radio and television shows and have more than 1.000 followers on social media”.
As it is a pilot project, it has been built from the start as a project to be replicated with a Blueprint. Talks are already underway with schools and institutions in Spain and Morocco.
When receiving the WestMED project award in Malta, Christian put out an open invitation: “We are happy to collaborate, for our approach to be replicated in other regions. Please contact us so that we can share our model that has shown to be working.”
|More info about We are blue schools|
|Budget||Overall: approx. 65.000€
EU Contribution: €30 000
|Partners/ Countries||Coordinator: Sea Teach (Mallorca, Spain)
Es Lledoner (Mallorca, Spain)
|Duration||1 October 2022 – 31 October 2023|
1) European Commission: https://oceans-and-fisheries.ec.europa.eu/ocean/blue-economy/skills-and-career-development_en
2) Ocean Literacy Portal (UNESCO): https://oceanliteracy.unesco.org/about/