The EU-funded project “Forward Looking at the Offshore Renewable Energies” (FLORES) feeds into the European Pact for Skills. It promotes a strong large-scale partnership to foster upskilling and reskilling of Europeans from all ages in Offshore Renewable Energies (ORE).
As part of this cross-country initiative, the FLORES team has released a set of guidelines on how to better stimulate dedicated training offers for the Offshore Renewable Sector, while also promoting innovative approaches in LLL (Life-Long Learning) and good practices for the syllabus design and teaching activities.
The final goal of these guidelines is to help train the ORE workers that this industry needs, as we face a very worrying shortage of skilled professionals across Europe, namely in emerging industries like ours. The numbers are clear: the Offshore Renewable Energies (ORE) sector will need up to 54,000 workers in the next 5 years across Europe. We must prepare for this challenge. The success of Europe’s decarbonization depends greatly on human capital.María López Morado, Researcher at University of A Coruña (UDC), authors of the FLORES Guidelines
Why are these guidelines needed?
The FLORES guidelines can be useful for training providers or for those who are planning to create training offers for the Offshore Renewable Energy sector, but, above all, they are meant to ease access to ORE trainings. That’s why they analyse the allocation of time in this course and the creation of a truly inclusive learning environment, identifying the good practices since the designing process starts.
The importance of Life-Long Learning and EQAVET approach
According to the European Union, Life-Long Learning is all learning activity undertaken throughout life, which results in improving knowledge, know-how skills, competences and/or qualifications for personal, social and/or professional reasons. The ORE sector is part of this rapidly changing world that calls for opportunities to learn throughout life. To make this learning process sucessful for different types of students and learner lever, it is important to follow an EQAVET (European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training) approach: Planning, Implementation, Evaluation and Review; a concept that is described and developed in the FLORES guidelines.
Good practices identified
The question would be: how do we make ORE courses useful and interesting? The answer is in the FLORES guidelines but the key aspects are as follows:
- Inclusivity: providing accessible materials, varied and adapted learning paths and assessments, community building, support and feedback services and raising awareness about diversity.
- Flexibility: providing a flexible training design through short courses and modularity to facilitate the allocation of time, guaranteeing the equality of access.
- Innovation: incorporating learner-centred pedagogies and real-world applications, fostering a deeper understanding of complex ORE concepts.
- Case studies and Simulations: promoting interactive trainings that present real-world scenarios by incorporating emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, simulations, robots, remote laboratories, etc.
- Service-learning: an educational approach that combines learning processes with community services, addressing real needs and promoting meaningful learning experiences.
Target learners in ORE
The potential profiles in ORE sector are not only VET and university students but also existing ORE sector workers and workers from other industries, namely from maritime and shipbuilding, onshore renewable energy and other offshore sectors.
Different profiles have different learning needs, and the training design should consider the previous capacities to adapt the type of skilling, differentiating start-skilling, cross-skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling processes.
New formats: the opportunity of MOOCs, blended training and other alternatives
New types of training fulfil the requirements of flexibility, stackable manner and modularity required in the reskilling and upskilling processes of the ORE evolving sector.
- MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) allow to train of a large number of students online.
- Blended training, which combines in-person and learning in work settings with online classroom learning, could be a good solution to allocate time for people who are already working in the ORE sector and need to up or reskill.
There is no one-size-fits-all format for training and it should always be adapted to the context, nevertheless, knowing the new possibilities is essential to identify the most effective educational training. Choosing an appropriate type of training and adequate teaching methods is essential to motivate learners, promoting learning and retraining workers in the current ORE context.
What does an ORE worker look like?
The FLORES Guidelines identified key skills for ORE and classified them into two types:
- Hard skills: the technical and specific skills
- project management skills
- engineering skills such as adaptation for decarbonisation in ORE maritime operations
- digital skills
- offshore-specific skills, such as working at sea and working at heights
- health and safety skills
- Soft skills: interpersonal skills, less tangible but also important
- Creative thinking and innovation
- Good communication competences
- Flexibility and adaptability.
- More examples can be seen in detail in the Guidelines.
More examples can be seen in detail in the Guidelines