Against a background of youth unemployment levels in Europe, at around double the overall rate than non-working adults, a new initiative aimed at attracting more youngsters into sustainable ‘Blue Economy’ jobs, was announced at an introductory meeting in Brussels.
The Blue Generation Project will initially target five EU countries and is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, through the European Economic Area (EEA) grants and the Norway grants fund for youth employment.
Oceans and waterways are established drivers for the European economy and have great potential for sustainable innovation and growth. With this in mind the project plans to support further development by targeting unemployed youngsters in the age range of 15 to 29 years, in Spain, Portugal, Poland, Greece and Bulgaria.
Apart from the more traditional sectors of ship building and ship repair, fisheries and maritime transport, the project team will be promoting the developing opportunities for sustainable careers in the Blue Economy growth areas such as Coastal Tourism, Aquaculture, Ocean Energy, and Marine Biotechnology.
Bridging the skills gap by attracting young workers
The project is being implemented in cooperation with the EU Commission’s Maritime Affairs department and aligned with the UN International Oceans Panel objectives, to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole.
Almost 50% of the jobs created globally in the leisure marine industry are from within Europe, with the 'blue' economy representing around 5.4 million jobs and generating a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year. However, further growth is still possible in a number of areas which are highlighted within the strategy, and certainly there is a large pool of potential young talent that can be tapped into according to latest statistics.
Youth unemployment (under 25’s) in the five participating countries is unacceptably high at current levels: Spain - 33%; Portugal - 20.8%; Poland - 10.9%; Greece - 43.2%; Bulgaria - 11.2% (Source: www.statista.com, as at May 2018, seasonally adjusted.)
Kyriakos Lingas from Militos Consulting, the project coordination and Beneficiary Partner based in Greece, said in his introduction, “our main task is turn around the 3D image (dirty, difficult and dangerous), which is often incorrectly attached to the maritime industries. We believe that areas with high youth unemployment can provide a whole new generation of skilled workers, if we can appeal to their individual aspirations, and link them up with new potential employers."
Creating opportunities for the NEETS
Silja Teege speaking for Sea Teach the project partner in Spain said” this is a four-year project aimed at reaching the NEETS generation, those young people who are ‘not in education, employment or training.’ We will establish a team of youth workers who will visit the countries as knowledgeable promoters and mentors for the Blue Economy.”
The initial project is intended to be a platform for long term continuation. There will be an online ‘Blue Career’ vacancy portal established, in order to link up employers with job seekers, and an interactive conference will be organised after two years, with another one at the end of the fourth year.
“The overall aim is to create a transferable template based on best practise and key success factors, one which can be replicated to other countries, so that we can continue to create and fulfil employment opportunities in the future,” said Silja.
Collaboration structure established
The project has the full support of five expert partner organisations, who will work in cooperation with each of the national project partners across the five selected countries.