Aqualex Blog

This webinar focused on the importance of improving skills and competences, and digital transition. The webinar - 3:00-5:00 over Zoom on 11 September 2020.

MATES partner, Margaret Eleftheriou, presented the “Importance of Improving Skills and Competence” and “the New European Skills Agenda”. Access the presentation here.

You can access the full video of the webinar on "Job opportunities for Youth in Environmentally Friendly Economies"

Do not be turned away by the title!

This was a ground-breaking conference from start to finish – IF you are interested in the future of VET training, of course.

M.Eleftheriou was one of the online participants in the conference, which saw the rollout of the New European Skills Agenda, just one hour after EU Commission Head, Ursula von der Leyen, made the official announcement in Brussels.

And why it is so important? Because it will set up a new Pact for Skills., with 12 areas of great important in the changing VET scene.

Of the 12 skills, MATES partners had already been advised of the increasing importance and relevance of Apprenticeships initiatives. But MATES partners had already been informed of the potential accreditation values that could be given to short courses, under the name of microcredentials.

Examine the graphics for more detail.

The MATES YouTube Channel has some interesting videos on the training aspects of some of the Pilot Experiences.

They are well worth a few moments’ viewing. And they are not all in English!

 Browse and enjoy!

Employment skills (English)

Priority Management (Spanish, English subtitles)

Shipbuilding industry for a healthier ocean

Occupations in technical services for shipbuilding

As the European Aquaculture Society has cancelled the 2020 International Conference, The Blue and the Green, The 2010 Lindsay Laird award for the most innovative student poster cannot now go ahead.

The event will now take place in the same venue from April 12 – 15 in 2021. (Covid 19 permitting, of course)

The pandemic has imposed lockdowns of varying length and severity in all EU Member States.

These unforeseeable and unpredictable measures directly impact work that AMC is carrying out concerning the MATES Pilot Experiences involving face-to-face training courses.

As a result, as of April 30th 2020 MATES has decided to postpone these courses for as long as special measures are enforced by Member States. This information will be updated you as soon as the situation changes.

In the meantime, there are some interesting YouTube videos depicting training measures being carried out.

This MATES report identifies and analyses emerging trends in the shipbuilding and offshore renewable energy sectors.

The report shows that it is key technologies that could have a disruptive impact on the maritime industry, as the industry is simply not prepared for them in terms of technical capabilities or in terms of technological service and research offer.

For the offshore renewable energy sector, the relevant new key technologies are: Automation & Advanced robotics; 3D Printing; Smart grid & Smart sensors; Big data; Energy storage

For shipbuilding: vessel automation, vessel autonomy and advanced robotics; exploitation of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources; digitalisation; 3D Printing; Green retrofitting; drones

The report discloses that all of the shipbuilding and offshore renewable energy key competences would be mainstream by 2030.

Of special interest to AMC, the report also identifies required skills and competences, the most effective training and educational methods, and the expected emerging occupations in both sectors.

This valuable report was developed through i) an extended literature review of 392 documents and 153 projects;i

i) mobilisation of experts and stakeholders from the shipbuilding and offshore renewable energy sectors during a series of two workshops conducted at five European countries

iii) a Delphi survey involving 176 MATES groupn experts.

The MATES project has published a report  (October 14, 2019) which not only describes the current situation and future prospects of the shipbuilding and offshore renewable energy sectors, but also the challenges that must be addressed in the future. One of these challenges is undoubtedly the content and delivery of training.  Vocational Education Training (VET)has to provide for the upskilling and retraining of the current work force.

The report refers to the generational change taking place in the shipbuilding sector which highlights the need for the transfer of information and experience from the experienced worker to the inexperienced newcomer.

While there is a surge in jobs expected for offshore wind, which will bring its own challenges of finding suitable workforce, other marine energies such as wave, tidal and gradient energy will require either new technologies or technological improvements to advance the competitiveness of electricity generation.

A significant gap for both sectors was the provision of appropriate training to existing and future workers for human capital development.

Two interactive sessions were devoted to Hands-on Pilot Experiences; this was an effective method for kick-starting both the design process itself and how to maximize the impact of each Pilot Experience (PE).

It is worth taking a closer look to see how this worked out in practice.                                                                                  

The Hands-on sessions were organized to try to get the PE leaders and their partners to think out of the box in order not only to explain their PE but to work out how to communicate the concept as clearly and briefly as possible. Necessary support material (crayons, pens, infographics, paper) was provided.

IIn the first session each PE leader worked with a single partner to prepare a visual/conceptual poster to produce a 1-minute pitch presentation containing:


2)   CONTENT: Exactly what is the PE going to do? (Define the PE using pictograms/ words/ own drawings, etc.)

3)   An attractive/innovative CONCEPT (use keywords/infographics/icons to explain the idea).

Here you see the Ocean Literacy team at work in the first stage of the process.

PE Hands on1


I   In the second Hands-on session, there were 3 groups with 4 PE  leaders:                                                       A) VET; B) Ocean Literacy;   C)Industry 4.0.                                                                                                        After each PE leader had made their 1-minute pitch from each PE was carried out, the groups had to find answers to the following questions:

1.   What are the final tangible” products for your PE?

2. How do you see the scale-up ofthe Experience? And the PE products? Could the certification of qualifications be an option? How do you envisage the exploitation of your PE?

3. What could go wrong when implementing the PE? How could this be prevented? Identify at least 3 points and the contingency measures.

And here you see the group deciding how well the process had worked and making further changes


Revision of next steps: coordination of activities for WPs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.

There were detailed presentations for each WP: a full report can be accessed in the MATES Intranet.

However, a new feature of this SG meeting was the organisation of Hands-on sessions to extend the range and impact of the 11 Pilot Experiences (see 2nd post to see how this was tackled ).

The Pilot Experiences aim to tackle skill shortages in the shipbuilding and offshore marine renewable industries – two sectors of many which are experiencing both opportunities and challenges with the drive towards a greener, knowledge-driven economy.

MATES is tackling these challenges head-on, building on the premise of partnership – or a Sectoral Skills Alliance – between industry and academia. Treated within such a structure, addressing skill gaps becomes a collaborative process. With a specific focus on shipbuilding and offshore marine renewable energy, MATES partners have been engaging with stakeholders over the past twenty months. This culmination of efforts has resulted in the publication of the MATES Strategy Baseline Report which has identified key paradigm shifters for both industries. It is these paradigm shifters which form the basis of the design of the MATES Pilot Experiences.

While some of the Pilot Experiences aim to increase the quality and relevance of curricula to better align education and training with industry needs, others will provide real-life work experience through staff and student exchanges between industry and academia. One Pilot Experience will strategically input new skills into ESCO (the European online classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) which is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

According to MATES partner Margaret Eleftheriou, who took part in the Europe 2020 Initiative ESCO and the EU Expert Group on Skills and Career Development in the Blue Economy, “ESCO is a tool that provides a common language for the labour market, the education and training sector, and jobseekers, allowing for and leading to better understanding, transparency and labour market mobility. MATES contribution to ESCO will ensure that the new emerging occupational profiles in the shipbuilding and offshore marine renewable energy will be transferred to the wider ESCO community assuring extended impact.”

Andy Kontoudakis, EC Policy Officer for DG MARE, also in attendance at the MATES meeting, emphasised the importance of linking with ESCO, “By revising and updating occupational profiles, through ESCO, Sectoral Skills Alliances will improve Vocational and Educational Training. This grounding in ESCO is one of the key requirements to ensure the success of a Blueprint project.”


  Revision of next steps and activities

Full report can be read in the MATES intranet.

The meeting began with a short presentation from the EACEA’s Ms Vytaute Ezerskiene, detailing the latest developments in the 3 lots of the 2019 Sector Skills Alliance Call. She also mentioned that in the 2018 Call, a Maritime Alliance project concerned with shipbuilding (SkillSea) had been awarded. She ran through the extensive documentation required for EACEA project management and outlined the very high EU expectations from the MATES project.

Then came presentations from MATES WP leaders: WPs 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 (details in MATES Intranet as above).

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