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Meet our partners: Universidade da Coruña (UDC)

15 partners from 8 countries work together in the FLORES project to foster the Pact for Skills in the Offshore Renewable Energies. In this series of interviews, we'll introduce you to the excellent team that works on the FLORES project. Today is the turn of the Europan Marine Board!
  • Name of company/organization: Universidade da Coruña (UDC)
  • Name of the interviewee: Lucía Santiago Caamaño, Vicente Díaz Casás and María López Morado

What does your organization do, in which areas do you normally work?

The University of A Corunha (UDC) is a public institution whose primary objective is the generation, management and dissemination of culture and scientific, technological and professional knowledge through the development of research and teaching. The University explicitly expresses its commitment to the study and the integral development of Galicia.

Thus, Campus Industrial de Ferrol arises in a context of industrial transformation that it is articulated around what is known as Industry 4.0. and it is dedicated to promoting its full integration into the European Higher Education setting through University outreach and lifelong learning.

We seek to contribute to the development of smart industry and advanced manufacturing in Galician strategic industrial sectors, including shipbuilding and offshore energies. The mission is to promote teaching, research, and technological development.

In our Campus, the Escola Politécnica de Enxeñaría de Ferrol (EPEF) has a wide range of university degrees related with engineering and industry. There is also in the Campus the Centro de Investigación en Tecnoloxías Navais e Industrias (CITENI), which is a technological centre for research in naval and industrial technologies with the aim of promoting naval and industrial technologies trough an integrated and interdisciplinary perspective that enhances: research, technological development and the agile transfer of knowledge to industry and society.

What is the role of your company/organization in the FLORES project?

University of A Corunha (UDC) is an academic partner. As an education community and training provider with a wide expertise in the development of innovative training programs and attraction of students, we lead the WP4: Promoting careers in the ORE. This WP includes the development of multilingual educational materials and the update of the ESCO Occupational profiles.

We are also part of the other working packages addressing different tasks:

  • WP2: Observatory skills needs and offers. We are mapping and collecting the job offers and the EU training offers in Offshore Renewable Energies (ORE).
  • WP3: Promoting Life-long Learning (LLL) in ORE. UDC has the responsibility of the task T.3.1. by creating the deliverable “Guidelines to promote innovative approaches in LLL for the ORE”.
  • WP5: Building durable partnerships. We are responsible for the task T.5.2. Adaptation of the training offer and supporting materials.

Why being part of FLORES is valuable to your organization?

The participation in FLORES project will allow the UDC not only to identify new training needs but also to establish new training strategies. More than that, it allows us to contribute to the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce, preparing the workers for the new jobs expected in ORE.

On the other hand, one of the objectives of UDC, aligned with FLORES strategies, is to increase the awareness and attractiveness of the maritime sector, promoting innovation, inclusion and assuring an equal gender approach.

Last but not least, within the new needs of the ORE sector with respect to Industry 4.0, the UDC has designed through the previous project, MATES (Maritime Alliance for fostering the European Blue Economy through a Marine Technology Skilling Strategy),  specific programs that include an Erasmus-Mundus Master Program, MOOCs and specific training to train professionals in the field of OREs.

Now, with FLORES, we are developing new materials and training programs based on the ORE skill gaps detected and in accordance with the Lines of Actions of the Pact For Skills in the ORE sector.

Why do you think offshore renewable energies are important across Europe?

Renewable energies are a firm political commitment of the European Union, which considers them an important contribution to sustainable development, with greater security and diversity of supply, promoting high-quality and low-cost energy, improving industrial competitiveness and improvement of environmental quality.

Offshore renewable energies, including all the energy obtained from wind, waves, tides, sun, or currents in the ocean, could allow societies to obtain local energy, boosting local and regional research and training development. The ORE sector today accounts for around 80.000 jobs and is expected to generate up to 54.000 new vacancies in the next 5 years across Europe.

What are the main challenges we face to harness the power of our oceans?

The main challenges we are facing are to build strong partnerships and commitment with all the social agents and to show to society that Offshore Renewable Energies have future possibilities.

It is important to develop these energies through the collaboration of the different involved sectors of society, addressing inclusion and awareness. This is where the FLORES project expects to make a difference, increasing the attractiveness of the exploitation of the power of our oceans.

What can we do among the different stakeholders to address those challenges?

We can generate partnerships that integrate society, academia, and industry, encouraging the collaboration of the various sectors involved. Thereby, promoting multicultural and diverse participation would ensure that everybody needs are addressed.

How would you convince young people to go for a career or studies in the ORE sector, what’s in it for them?

One way to promote career or studies in the ORE sector is the scientific dissemination through specific designed events, open to the entire society.

It is important to promote the importance of the ocean and the environment since the early stages of childhood.

At the University of A Coruña, we are involved in different actions not only promoting careers in ORE but also promoting women’s representation in STEAM to children, students of all ages and families.  One recent example is the Gnight (European and Galician Researchers Night), an open event to scholars and general public in which we have shown our facilities and explain how wave action affects ship models, floating wind turbines or energy converters. Another example was the Open Science Cambre, where we brought the essence of offshore wind to girls and boys of different ages and we run a competition to create floating structures with floats and wooden sticks, inspired by offshore wind structures.

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