The recent report from European Commission-funded blueprint project MATES in partnership with the European Union (EU) Erasmus Programme has demonstrated the urgent need for initiatives to support Europe’s maritime workers.  There is a call for events to promote maritime and technology industries across schools and the community much like the events and outreach programmes put on by the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT).  Read Esther Farrant’s blog on to find out how the OCT is promoting maritime industries and how you can get involved.

In order to facilitate closing the skills gap present in maritime industries the Ocean Conservation Trust has been instrumental in promoting and hosting STEM and outreach events in the South West.  These events are vital in ensuring that transferrable skills are well integrated into the educational system and that key principles are promoted in undergraduate training programmes, from shipbuilding, vessel management, and seafaring, to mechanics automation in offshore renewable energy sectors.  These events inspire young people to explore marine engineering and construction, the mechanics of green energy solutions, and participate in practical activities like our boat building project.  Through evaluation of our events we have recorded that many participants have been inspired to go on to seek employment in the marine sector.  In June one of Education Officers represented the OCT at a careers and work experience conference speaking to over 500 young people across the nation connecting with naval officers, construction workers, and shipyard managers, sharing knowledge about jobs in the marine sector and how their roles complimented one another relating it to the students’ study choices in school and beyond.

This year the Ocean Conservation Trust teamed up with Princess Yachts, a British luxury yacht manufacturer based in Plymouth, to offer an exciting programme that had students involved with a ‘Big Boat Build’ honing practical skills needed to build a real boat while learning key elements of Ocean literacy and marine conservation.  Over a course of several months young people from schools across the South West were invited to contribute, encouraging students from all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders.  The participating schools were presented with a flatpack rowing boat kit to build and customise themselves, alongside a STEM ambassador and our Education Officers who were available to offer expert support and guidance throughout the project and incorporate the essential ocean literacy and conservation element of the programme.  Following successful construction of the boats the schools will be participating in the ‘Kids Afloat Regatta’, in which representatives from all thirty-five participating schools will have the opportunity to row their customised boats through Plymouth Sound, connect with other experts in the field, and learn about advanced mooring systems and the essential coastal ecosystems along our shores.  This project is not only providing ocean literacy education to all involved, it will also continue to spread this vital message by inspiring members of the public and community who will watch the regatta and associated Ocean activities during STEMfest 2021.

To support and enhance this vital role promoting maritime careers the Ocean Conservation Trust has assisted in strengthening and protecting Europe’s blue Economy by raising Ocean Literacy in schools across the locality through outreach events.  Our connection with local sail training charities has seen young people from schools and university students take to the water aboard sailing vessels to learn practical skills and participate in technology and hands-on scientific research onboard.  This initiative is vital in maintaining interest in the maritime sector and promoting careers and skills that may otherwise lose traction at larger careers events.  This connection to the Ocean through our events will help maintain a pro-Ocean attitude in the community and a generation of enthusiasts streaming into the marine sector. 

Digital Ocean Literacy opportunities in the Classroom provided by Ocean Conservation Trust

We are connecting the community with the maritime industry both through engagement events in the aquarium, and nationally across the UK through our new virtual experience’s capacity and live stream events.  Earlier this month we promoted local fishing industries in partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council during sustainable seafood week, hosting an exclusive livestream event and talking to visitors about how they can get involved.

Looking ahead it is a positive view for the maritime sector despite recent challenges following the COVID-19 crisis which has particularly affected construction in shipyards, and recruitment to the field.  Moving forward with effective science communication from our team more companies are becoming aware that they are connected with the Ocean, and that this close relationship with the Ocean is essential.  Our team at the Ocean Conservation Trust are underway preparing engagement experiences and events for STEMfest 21 that will be instrumental both in increasing Ocean Literacy across the community and in connecting companies from the marine sector with curriculum development and training programmes.