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Oceans and fisheries

Skills and career development

Our coasts and seas have the potential to deliver sustainable growth and jobs in the coming years and contribute towards the Green Deal objectives. This will only be possible if we invest in new, blue skills and career development.

A competitive, resilient and socially fair blue economy needs highly qualified and skilled professionals. Yet today, many blue economy sectors have difficulties finding the right people, which hampers their growth. The European Commission is supporting actions to solve this mismatch.

Objectives

  • reduce skills gap between education offer and labour market needs
  • improve communication and cooperation between education and industry
  • improve the attractiveness and awareness of career opportunities in the blue economy
  • improve the ocean literacy culture at the basis of it all

Actions

1. Blue careers in Europe call for proposals

Through the EMFF ‘Blue careers in Europe’ call for proposals, the EU supports cooperation projects between business and education, at local, regional or transnational level. It also targets concrete actions to close the skills gap, tackle unemployment and raise the attractiveness of "blue careers" among students and young professionals.

With the most recent call for proposals on blue careers, eight projects have been selected. Those new projects will work towards enhancing career opportunities in the maritime economy.

Building on lessons learned, a new call is foreseen for 2022.

2. Blueprint on sectorial skills cooperation for the maritime technology sector

One particular focus area for blue skills is the European maritime technology industry. The sector has radically changed and diversified over the last decade, passing from classical steel-intensive ship types to building the most complex and advanced technologies and vessels. It is currently one of the most research-intensive sectors in Europe (9% of its GDP invested in RDI). The industry also provides the technologies and vessels to enable a sustainable and safe development of the blue economy, e.g. offshore wind, ocean energy, marine biotechnology, aquaculture, deep-sea exploration and surveillance. At the same time, it also upgrades traditional shipping to meet sustainability and climate change criteria.

The sector figures among the industrial ecosystems for recovery, identified in the ‘European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience’ published in 2020.

In June 2016, the Commission launched the "new skills agenda for Europe" to make sure that people develop the skills necessary for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The “blueprint for sectoral skills cooperation” was one of the 10 concrete measures to support its implementation, and the maritime technology sector has been selected as one of the sectors to pilot this initiative.

To consider the needs of the sector in the future, particularly in the shipbuilding and offshore renewable energy production value chains, the dedicated Blueprint project MATES is attempting to provide useful insights in terms of skills needs and gaps.

3. Ocean literacy

The ocean is a source of life for human beings. It gives us food, oxygen and energy. It is home to many species and acts as climate regulator. Understanding how we influence the ocean and how the ocean influences us is at the core of ocean literacy. This understanding allows us, and future generations, to make responsible choices to protect our ocean and use the opportunities it offers sustainably.

The European Ocean Literacy Coalition (EU4Ocean) connects diverse organisations, projects and people that contribute to ocean literacy and the sustainable management of the ocean. Supported by the European Commission, this bottom-up inclusive initiative aims at uniting the voices of Europeans to make the ocean a concern of everyone!

EU4Ocean combines EU-wide activities with actions dedicated to the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (including the North Sea), the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the global ocean.

The coalition consists of three components

  • EU4Ocean Platform, a platform for organisations and individuals engaged in Ocean Literacy initiatives
  • Youth4Ocean Forum, European Youth Forum for the Ocean
  • Network of European Blue Schools

The European Atlas of the Seas is an easy and fun way for professionals, students and anyone interested to learn more about Europe's seas and coasts, their environment, related human activities and European policies. It aims to raise long-term awareness of Europe's oceans and seas, in the context of the EU's integrated maritime policy.

Hack4Oceans is an event to engage youths in developing ideas for the sustainable use of the marine environment and resources while minimizing the negative impacts of human activities. It gives young participants across Europe the possibility to learn, explore and co-create opportunities for prosperity through ocean conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. 

The next Hack4oceans will take place in Brussels, Belgium on 21 and 22 April 2021.

Media

Euronews Ocean: Family-run fisheries struggle as new generation casts net wider. January 2020.

Euronews Ocean: Family-run fisheries struggle as new generation casts net wider

Euronews travels to Finland to film an EU-supported apprenticeship programme. Find out what they do to foster a new generation of local fishers and preserve a vital economic activity in this coastal area. The story continues offshore Ostend, Belgium, where teenage students of local maritime school get their first-hand fishing experience on board the “Broodwinner" training vessel, renovated with support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).