Port Virtual Lab Transforms South African Students into Logistics Experts through a pilot course

Port Virtual Lab (PVL), in its ongoing mission to bridge theoretical knowledge with real-world applications, proudly announces the successful conclusion of another pilot course aimed at training future logistics experts, this time for 18 students from Global Maritime Legal Solutions (GMLS), South Africa, thanks to the generous economic support of the international company Savino del Bene. Throughout April, these young visionaries, aged between 18 to 30, delved into the complexities of international logistics through a comprehensive virtual programme spanning three weeks.

Structured around a diverse curriculum, the course zeroed in on critical aspects of logistics such as port-logistics communities, delivery contracts, and operations, with a particular focus on electronic documentation, market research, and strategic packaging planning. Students were also introduced to the critical legal frameworks of Incoterms and the SAD document, equipping them with the theoretical skills they needed to complete the second part of the training – through a simulated port community environment.

PVL takes teaching a step beyond traditional learning. The course’s hallmark was its dynamic, simulated port community where students were able to collaboratively work in teams to plan international door-to-door logistics operations. The PVL environment encompasses 23 simulated companies, allowing students to assume vital roles in the logistics chain, from freight forwarders to operations managers.

Thanks to ERP software developed by Click&Cargo, the course can offer hands-on experience in maritime and airfreight operations, tariff classification, and export management. Such interactive learning journey extends beyond simple logistics; it fosters a deep understanding of economic principles within the context of global trade. By navigating real-time scenarios, the GMLS students could hone their problem-solving skills and acquired the analytical acumen necessary for impactful decision-making.

‘What an amazing project this has been! I am deeply grateful to Escola and the entire team. My numerous questions were met with patience, grace, and honesty. The presentations had a profound impact, and I valued the opportunity to share a space with the system designers, lawmakers, and environmental leaders. I would gladly repeat this experience,’ said Cynthia Thandeka Magagula, a student from GMLS. The course earned an impressive average evaluation rating of 4.88 out of 5 from the participants, underscoring their high level of satisfaction.

Looking to the future, PVL remains committed to providing education that links academic theory with practical industry skills. The course’s success with the GMLS students demonstrates the effectiveness of PVL’s approach and its ability to establish valuable educational partnerships. GMLS now joins the ranks of the University of Barcelona, STC Netherlands, and the Saudi Logistics Academy in partnering with PVL to offer pilot courses that focus on virtual and experiential learning that are closely aligned with industry requirements.

PVL continues to welcome collaboration with industry professionals, educational institutions, and students. Each course aims to set new benchmarks for hands-on learning in the logistics and transportation sectors.

The Escola Europea Celebrates Strategic Partnership in Nouakchott, Mauritania

This strategic partnership signifies a pivotal moment in enhancing cooperation and reinforcing maritime transport and logistics ties between Europe and Africa for the Escola and its partners.

From left to right, Abdelatif Lhouaoui ANP, Sidi Mohamed Maham, representing the Friendship Port of Nouakchott, and Eduard Rodés from the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

In a symbolically charged ceremony, Mr. Sidi Mohamed Maham, on behalf of the Friendship Port of Nouakchott (Le Port de l’Amitié de Nouakchott – PANPA), Mr. Abdelatif Lhouaoui representing the National Ports Agency of Morocco (Agence Nationale des Ports – ANP), and Mr. Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, have forged a tripartite agreement. This agreement aims to be a catalyst for enhancing international trade education, logistics and port operations, as well as education and management in the region, aligning their efforts with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The initiative, named “Mare Nostrum Atlantique,” underscores the critical role of quality education, the creation of respectable employment opportunities, and the promotion of sustainable economic growth. It prioritizes vocational training in logistics and international trade and actively encourages the sharing of knowledge and best practices among port communities.

The agreement’s signing was further highlighted by the presence and contribution of Mr. Jordi Torrent, Secretary-General of the MEDports Association. His remarks underscored the significance of a collaborative protocol between three association members, setting a new benchmark for collective commitment to excellence and innovation in port and logistics services.

The Escola brings to the table its extensive expertise in specialized training and skill development, ensuring port staff remain at the cutting edge of industry innovations and technologies.

This agreement marks a significant step forward in fostering a stronger and more effective partnership between the parties, with a shared aim of promoting economic growth and environmental sustainability in their respective regions.

Port Virtual Lab continues to bridge knowledge and practical application in international logistics

PVL welcomes the Saudi Logistics Academy and ITS La Spezia among its collaborators

Port Virtual Lab (PVL), has launched comprehensive trainings designed to hone the skills of students in the intricate world of international logistics and transportation operations this past week, bridging the gap between knowledge and practical applications of the industries. The two separate pilot courses have been designed for students coming from ITS La Spezia in Italy and the Saudi Logistics Academy. The former will begin on the 25th of January and continue until the 15th of March, whereas the latter has launched this past Monday on the 22nd of January, and will continue until the 28th of February. The sessions will be held over eight weeks with half-day instruction, marking a significant step in the practical education of future logistics professionals. These courses aim to test and pilot the concept that came out of the Escola’s participation in the European YEP MED project, which finalised in December of 2023. By providing students with hands-on training in international logistics and transportation operations through a simulated environment offered by Port Virtual Lab (PVL), we aim to refine and enhance the practical applications of the innovative ideas developed during the European project.

Empowering the Next Generation of Logistics Experts

Over the next few weeks, participants will engage in an immersive learning environment that spans the full spectrum of the supply chain. Adopting roles within the platform’s extensive range of simulated companies, students will experience first-hand the operations of freight forwarders, whilst interacting with simulated shipping and airline companies, road transport, railways, and port terminals in a controlled and realistic environment within the platform. 

The course’s strategic objectives are threefold: to provide a simulated environment for participants to sharpen their logistics and transportation skills, to foster autonomous development in solving real-world problems, and to deepen understanding of economic principles within the context of international trade.

A Deep Dive into Real-World Simulations

Port Virtual Lab (PVL), a cutting-edge educational resource, serves as the backdrop for this advanced training programme. PVL encompasses a platform that holds 23 simulated companies within a digital port community system. The course includes a pioneering freight forwarder module developed with Click&Cargo, which offers participants near-real-life operation simulations of import and export operations.

The benefits of such simulation in training are profound. They offer real-time practice, diverse scenarios for robust problem-solving, and opportunities to test different transport combinations. These simulations allow participants to balance sustainability with the need for speed, a crucial skill in today’s fast-paced, eco-conscious market.

Through PVL’s immersive simulations, students can translate theoretical knowledge into practical expertise. They get challenged to navigate unforeseen circumstances, incidents, and conflicts that arise from the dynamics of a company’s interactions with customers and suppliers. This experience is invaluable in developing a responsible and proactive approach to decision-making.

The training also emphasizes the application of economic analysis to international trade, a critical aspect of the global market. Students will learn to identify the benefits and constraints of how global markets operate, equipping them with the analytical skills necessary for strategic decision-making in international logistics.

Looking Ahead

Port Virtual Lab courses are more than just a training programme; they serve as a bridge to the future of logistics education. By merging real-world scenarios with state-of-the-art simulation technology, PVL is setting a new standard for experiential learning. The course is not only equipping participants with the necessary tools to excel in the logistics and transportation sectors but also aims to instil a keen understanding of the global trade mechanisms and the versatility required to adapt to its ever-changing landscape.

PVL invites industry professionals, educational institutions, and students to continue this journey of discovery and professional development. The success of this course is a testament to the collaborative effort between PVL, ITS La Spezia, and the Saudi Logistics Academy, and serves as a call to action for other organisations to join in shaping the future of logistics training.

The lab is constantly evolving, with new simulations and modules being developed to mirror the latest industry trends and technologies. Those interested in being at the forefront of logistics innovation are encouraged to get involved. Whether it’s to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, to engage with a network of like-minded professionals, or to contribute to the evolution of the logistics sector, PVL remains your premier partner in professional growth.

Escola’s Success in Reaching IAPH Sustainability Awards Finals Speaks Volumes

As the year draws to a close, we are reflecting on an incredible journey that took us to the heart of recognition on a global stage. Our nomination as a finalist in the prestigious IAPH Sustainability Awards has marked a pivotal moment in our pursuit of sustainability and community building.

From the outset, our dedication to fostering sustainable communities has been unwavering. The recognition bestowed upon us as a Top-3 finalist in the “Community Building” category with the YEP MED project – co-funded by the European Union – among a competitive field of international projects is a testament to our commitment and innovative approaches.

In the photo: Akram Soliman (Arab Academy), Eduard Rodés (Escola Europea) and Alaa Morsy (Arab Academy) during the IAPH Sustainability Awards

While the announcement of the winners during the World Ports Conference Gala didn’t place us atop the podium this time, our journey to the finals stands as a resounding achievement. The accolades and acknowledgment received for our efforts in sustainability and community development reinforce the significance of our work – which also further culminated with our director being awarded the prestigious Mediterranean Award by ACASME during the MedaWeek conference in Barcelona last month.

The projects celebrated during the awards represent ground-breaking initiatives from various corners of the globe, each contributing uniquely to the cause of sustainability.

We extend our congratulations to the deserving winners whose remarkable projects have made substantial impacts in their respective categories.

For the Escola, being among the top contenders emphasizes the value of our endeavours and fuels our drive to continue making strides in sustainability and community development. This recognition underscores the dedication of our team and partners, whose unwavering support and relentless pursuit of excellence have propelled us to this stage.

As we bid farewell to 2023, we do so with immense pride in our accomplishments. While this year may be coming to an end, our journey toward a more sustainable and inclusive future is an ongoing commitment. We eagerly anticipate the opportunities that lie ahead in the coming year, poised to embark on new initiatives and collaborations that will further our mission.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has been part of our journey, supporting and encouraging us along the way. Your belief in our vision and commitment to sustainability fuels our determination to continue making a meaningful difference.

Here’s to a remarkable 2023 and an even more promising 2024 as we forge ahead in our pursuit of sustainability and community building.

Final Conference of the TECHLOG project Highlights Achievements and Innovations in Mediterranean Logistics

The TECHLOG Final Conference, hosted at the University of Cagliari, Italy, on December 1st, marked the culmination of 30 months of dedicated efforts within the ENI CBC MED – EU co-financed project aimed at advancing Technological Transfer for Logistics Innovation in the Mediterranean area. With a robust attendance of over 73 participants, the event showcased the project’s milestones, outputs, and profound impact on the regional logistics sector.

The conference commenced with esteemed speakers extending institutional greetings to the attendees. Notable figures included Francesco Mola, Rector of the University of Cagliari; Ada Lai, Counsellor for Labour, Vocational Training, Cooperation, and Social Security of the Sardinia Region; Massimo Deiana, President of the Sardinian Ports’ Authority; and Fabio Mereu from the Chamber of Commerce of Cagliari, who also served as the delegate of ASCAME, the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce.

Marco Melis, Director General of the ENI CBC MED Programme, Autonomous Region of Sardinia, delivered a comprehensive presentation, setting the tone for the conference and emphasizing the significance of ENI CBC MED projects in fostering collaboration and innovation within the Mediterranean region.

The heart of the conference featured two engaging roundtable discussions. The first focused on TECHLOG’s scientific results, with active participation from project partners representing the 5 participating countries Italy, Egypt, Spain, Lebanon and Tunisia. The roundtable covered topics including capacity building, agreements, and pilot actions in the Mediterranean area, featuring video presentations showcasing project results and interviews with crane and truck operators.

The second roundtable explored New Scenarios of the EURO-Mediterranean Transport Sector, offering insights into the evolving industry landscape. Moderated by Morena Pivetti, a transport and logistics journalist, the discussion included external stakeholders and industry experts from around the Mediterranean region, such as Vittorio Marzano, Professor at Federico II Naples University, Euan Lonmon – Board Member at GRENDI Group, Dr. Alaa Ezz – Secretary-General of the Confederation of Egyptian European Business Associations, Naima Zamoum – Business Development Manager Africa Trade Lane at CEVA Logistics  and Ummuhan Bardak – Senior Human Capital Development Expert – Skills Demand Analysis – European Training Foundation.

Audience members actively engaged in a dynamic questions & answers session, enriching the discussions and facilitating knowledge exchange. As TECHLOG enters its final month of the 30-month implementation period, the conference provided a valuable platform to reflect on the project’s impact and set the stage for future collaborations in the fields of logistics and technology.

TECHLOG (Technological Transfer for Logistics Innovation in the Mediterranean area) is an EU co-financed project with a duration of 30 months and a total budget of €3.4 million, of which €3.1 million (90%) is funded by the European Union. The project partners include the University of Cagliari in Italy (Lead beneficiary), the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts, and Agriculture of Maremma and Tirreno (Italy), the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport (Egypt), the European School of Short Shipping, EEIG (Spain), the Confederation of Egyptian European Business Associations (Egypt), the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (Lebanon), the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria (Egypt), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sfax (Tunisia), and Sfax University (Tunisia).

For more information about TECHLOG, please visit: https://linktr.ee/techlog_project

Vote for YEP MED in the IAPH Sustainability Awards 2023

Paving the Way for Sustainable Community Building through Youth-Led Progress

Eduard Rodés - Director of the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by: Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

By now you may have already heard, but if not let me be honoured in bringing you more exciting news regarding YEP MED‘s remarkable journey towards sustainability and community building. Not only have we been selected as a Top-18 Finalist in the Sustainability Awards of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, but we have also achieved the incredible feat of securing a spot as one of the top-3 finalists in the “Community Building” category—a testament to our dedication and innovation in this field.

Out of an impressive pool of 86 projects from around the world, YEP MED has emerged as a distinguished contender, showcasing remarkable dedication and innovation in the field of community building. This recognition serves as a testament to the significant impact and importance of our work in fostering sustainable and thriving communities.

 

Vote for YEP MED in the IAPH Sustainability Awards 2023

 

At the Escola, we are acutely aware of the importance of aligning our efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact, we try to tailor most of our courses and activities to align with some of them. These global goals, ranging from ending poverty and hunger to promoting quality education and clean energy, are our collective roadmap to a more equitable and sustainable world.

Our projects and initiatives are designed with the SDGs in mind. Whether it’s reducing our carbon footprint, improving the livelihoods of local communities, or ensuring the responsible use of resources, the Escola is committed to making a meaningful contribution to these vital global objectives.

But it’s not just about what we do; it’s about who is leading the charge. Young people are at the forefront of progress, driving innovation and advocating for change. They are the torchbearers of a brighter future, and I couldn’t be prouder of the Escola in supporting and nurturing the talents of these future leaders.

Through our Youth Empowerment Program, we have provided opportunities for young minds to take the lead in shaping our sustainable initiatives. Their fresh perspectives, boundless energy, and innovative thinking have not only enriched our projects but have also reinforced our commitment to youth-led progress.

This brings me back to the IAPH Sustainability Awards. As we near the end of this final phase of this prestigious competition, we invite you all to participate actively and show your support for our endeavor. The public voting period, which runs from September 5th to September 24th, provides an opportunity for everyone to cast their votes for the project they believe deserves the most merit. Each vote holds significant weight, contributing 30% to the total score, while the remaining 70% will be assessed by the esteemed IAPH expert jury.

You can vote by going to the IAPH website.

The winners of the IAPH Sustainability Awards will be unveiled during the illustrious Gala dinner of the World Ports Conference in Abu Dhabi on November 1st. This momentous occasion not only celebrates our accomplishments but also underscores YEP MED’s unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on communities, the environment, and the future generations who will inherit this world.

In closing, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to every member of the YEP MED team whose hard work, dedication, and innovative spirit have brought us to this remarkable point in our journey. Let us continue to work hand in hand, pushing the boundaries of sustainability and community building, as we aim for even greater heights in the future.

Thank you for your unwavering support, and together, let us leave a lasting legacy of sustainability for generations to come.

YEP MED in Egypt celebrates success to empower young people in the Mediterranean port sector

YEP MED’s closing ceremony highlights the project’s significant achievements, including the adaptation of eight training courses, training 72 teachers, and conducting 161 courses that trained nearly 3,700 young people, the YEP MED Talent Programme, and the World Port Sustainability Program (WPSP) successful submission.

The YEP MED project, an innovative initiative aimed at empowering young people , particularly NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and women, in the Mediterranean port and logistics sectors, successfully concluded its journey with the YEP MED final conference & Steering Committee held on July 24th – 25th, 2023, at the Steigenberger Hotel El Lessan in Damietta, Egypt.

The two-day event united delegates from partner organizations alongside individuals associated with collaborating institutions, YEP MED trainees, and companies. The opening session commenced with welcoming remarks from key figures such as Rear Admiral Ahmed Hawash, Chairman of Damietta Port Authority, and Mr. Eduard Rodés, the CEO of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport. The session continued with thought-provoking keynote addresses from prominent figures like Dr. Esmat AlKaradsheh, representing ENI CBC MED Programme, Admiral Dr. Refeeq Galal, Chairman of Damietta for Container Handling Co. (DCHC), Prof Ismail Abdel Ghafar Ismail Farag, President of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, which was presented on his behalf by Prof Akram Soliman Elselmy, and Rear Admiral Reda Ismail, Head of the Egyptian Maritime Sector.

The first session started with a presentation of YEP MED global results and YEP MED Talent by Mr. Eduard Rodés and Ms. Marta Miquel, respectively, shed light on the project’s significant achievements, which included adapting 8training courses, training 72 teachers, and conducting 161 training sessions. This resulted in the training of nearly 3,700 young individuals and women, with a remarkable 47% representation of women and 53% for men, contributing to gender balance in the workforce. The average participant age of thirty reflects the project’s focus on empowering young individuals at a crucial stage in their lives. Moreover, the project enabled approximately 1,100 internships and job placements, forging collaborations with over 250 companies across the seven countries represented.  This was followed by a presentation made by Prof Akram Soliman Elslemy,  YEP MED project manager at the Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) and Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, which highlighted the project’s results that exceeded expectations on all levels. Each partner was then able to present their contributions, with speeches by Ms. Mar Marzo from Valenciaport Foundation (Spain), Mr. Rabieh Sabra, the president of the Beirut Chamber of Commerce in Lebanon, Mr. Jobrane Ben Mansour, OMMP (Tunisia), Mr. Husain Al-Safadi, the Chairman of the Aqaba Development Corporation through a remote connection) from Jordan.  Finally, the testimonial of Dr. Ahmed Kamel – DCHC, Trainer at YEP MED Egypt closed this part of the event.

The second session discussed the future of the project and included a presentation about the newly created PLIKA (Port Logistics International Knowledge Academy) was presented by Orlando Reveco from Escola Europea – shedding light on the legacies that YEP MED will leave behind upon its completion.  Then Prof. Alaa Morsy, YEP MED project coordinator at AASTMT, discussed the project’s sustainability and future.  The Session ended up with the signing ceremony for the PLIKA initiative (Port Logistics International Knowledge Academy) – an organisation created out of the work done by the training institutes during the YEP MED project.

The conference ended with the testimonials from trainees of the YEP MED in Egypt and the awarding ceremony for the esteemed partners, YEP MED students, and local companies that participated in the trainees’ internship and employment.

On the second day of the gathering, the YEP MED Steering Committee took place. Partners were able to discuss the future of cooperation, project sustainability, and the project’s closure. The day began with a warm official welcome from Damietta Port Authority, followed by a welcome note from Mr. Eduard Rodés. During the Committee meeting, topics such as the progress of activities, reporting, and payments to partners were discussed by representatives from the Escola Europea and Mes Advocats (Paula Baltar, Reyes Durá, and Gerard Navarro respectively) provided updates on the project’s financial management and the handling of minor amendments.

Dr. Esmat Karadsheh from ENI CBC MED delivered an informative training session on project closure guidelines, and the participants engaged in an open discussion on the YEP MED Final Report guidelines and dates. The event concluded with closing remarks and a visit to Damietta Port, offering participants an opportunity to witness the tangible impact of the YEP MED project first-hand.

Eduard Rodes, the director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport and lead beneficiary of the project, expressed his gratitude and pride during the opening ceremony: The YEP MED project stands as a testament to what can be achieved when we come together with a shared vision for education and youth empowerment.” As the project drew to a close, the YEP MED final conference & Steering Committee served as a moment of reflection, celebration, and inspiration for the future. The project has proven that together, a stronger and more interconnected society can be built, where challenges are overcome with determination and cooperation.

Empowering Port Communities: The Remarkable Journey of the YEP MED Project

Eduard Rodés, Director - Escola Europea - Intermodal Transporrt

Written by: Eduard Rodés,
Director – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transporrt

These days, we are celebrating the successful completion of the YEP MED project, an ambitious initiative aimed at aligning the skills needs of the labor market with vocational education and training opportunities in Mediterranean port logistics communities. Led by the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, this project has played a pivotal role in creating employment opportunities, particularly for NEETs (young people not in employment, education, or training) and women within the region. Let’s delve into the project’s inception, its remarkable outcomes, and its aspirations for the future.

A Journey of Collaboration and Excellence

The YEP MED project began its journey by setting high standards for itself. Out of 184 projects submitted for consideration, it was rated as the top project, setting a significant challenge to excel and deliver outstanding results. Involving seven countries from the Mediterranean region, the project fostered collaboration between vocational training providers, private sector representatives, and public administrations at local and international levels. The active participation of all partner organizations from these seven countries was a remarkable achievement, underscoring the project’s commitment to inclusivity and collective progress.

Identifying Critical Skill Priorities

Within the logistics communities, the YEP MED project identified three critical skill areas that would shape the future of the industry:

  1. Digitalization of Management and Information Processes: Responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the project prioritized digitalizing maritime and terrestrial operations for efficiency, transparency, and resilience in logistics.
  2. Environmental and Sustainability Aspects: With an emphasis on ecological impact, the project aimed to design sustainable logistics chains to minimize the industry’s environmental footprint.
  3. Collaborative Approach and Knowledge Sharing: By fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, the project sought to drive industry-wide progress and competitiveness.

 Empowering Individuals and Communities

The YEP MED project successfully achieved its objectives, positively impacting port communities and empowering individuals within the sector. It developed tailored vocational resources, enhanced employment skills, and established collaborative partnerships to ensure the sustainability and long-term impact of its efforts. Through various training courses and internships, it significantly contributed to enhancing employability and creating job opportunities for young individuals and women in the sector.

International Collaboration and Global Aspirations

International collaboration was a cornerstone of the project’s success, enabling the exchange of ideas, innovation, and best practices. Looking ahead, the YEP MED project aspires to extend its impact beyond the Mediterranean region and become a global reference for port industry initiatives. The project’s recognition as a finalist for the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) award for Best Initiative in Port Community Building further validates its significance and sets an example for other port initiatives worldwide.

Epilogue

The YEP MED project stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and dedication in shaping the future of port logistics communities. By empowering individuals and fostering sustainable growth, it has become a guiding star for navigators in the port industry. As we move forward, let us join hands in harnessing the potential of our training centers and ports, embracing innovation and collaboration, and fulfilling the needs and aspirations of our society. Together, we can achieve the impossible and create a future where port communities thrive, and opportunities are accessible to all.

PLIKA: Transforming Port Communities through Innovative Training and Collaboration

Introduction

The birth of the Port Logistics International Knowledge Academy (PLIKA) can be attributed to the imperative of adapting and innovating in the face of the challenges brought about by the global pandemic in 2020. Amidst these unprecedented circumstances, the YEP MED project emerged, shedding light on the demand for novel methodologies and solutions to provide remote training within an international framework. It was within this backdrop that the Port Virtual Lab was conceived, a ground-breaking simulation platform that revolutionized the landscape of international trade operations.

The pandemic brought forth various restrictions and limitations that disrupted traditional training methods and hindered international collaboration. Recognizing this challenge, the YEP MED project team sought to create an innovative solution that would transcend physical barriers and enable remote learning and collaboration. The solution came from the hand of Port Virtual Lab; conceived as a groundbreaking platform that allowed students to engage in international trade operations by exchanging simulated operations with teams from different countries and ports. This virtual environment transformed the way operations were conducted, innovating on the traditional approach and introducing a new level of interconnectivity and collaboration.

Advancements in technology facilitated the seamless integration of participants from diverse backgrounds and locations. Port Virtual Lab provided a realistic and immersive experience, enabling students to navigate the complexities of international trade operations, exchange information, and make informed decisions in a risk-free environment. This became the key to success – making sure that the students that passed through our doors got real hands-on experiences that would help them flourish once they have found employment.

Enhanced Collaboration

The platform fostered collaboration between teams from different countries and ports, transcending geographical boundaries. Participants were able to work together, exchange knowledge, and gain insights from diverse perspectives, resulting in enriched learning experiences. The need to interact with students from other cultures, in different time zones, and with diverse perspectives greatly enriched the work and interpersonal skills of participants. I count both students and instructors in this group. These intercultural exchanges provided a unique learning experience, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of different perspectives, customs, and practices. It broadened participants’ horizons, enabling them to develop cultural intelligence and adaptability, crucial skills in today’s interconnected world.

They learned to be flexible, accommodating varying schedules and finding ways to collaborate effectively despite geographical constraints. Moreover, the interaction with students and instructors from different cultures enhanced participants’ interpersonal skills. They developed cross-cultural communication skills, learned to navigate cultural nuances, and built strong relationships based on respect and understanding. These interpersonal skills are invaluable in a globalized world, where effective communication and collaboration across cultural boundaries are essential.

Realistic Simulation

Port Virtual Lab provided a realistic environment where participants could engage in simulated trade operations. This immersive experience allowed them to develop practical skills, make informed decisions, and understand the intricacies of international trade. This also served as a practical solution for students who were unable to participate in on-site internships due to pandemic-related restrictions. Many companies were hesitant to allow external individuals access to their facilities, making it challenging for students to gain hands-on experience.

Port Virtual Lab’s simulation capabilities proved to be a game-changer in this regard. By immersing students in simulated trade operations, Port Virtual Lab offered a viable alternative to traditional internships. Students were able to engage in practical exercises, familiarize themselves with essential ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software, and gain a comprehensive understanding of basic operational procedures. This not only facilitated their learning but also enabled them to acquire valuable industry-specific skills.

The results of this approach have been remarkable. Companies have recognized the value of students’ experience with the simulation platform and now actively seek interns who have been trained using Port Virtual Lab. This shift in attitude is primarily driven by the time and resources saved by companies. By having interns who are already familiar with the operations and workflows through the simulator, companies can streamline the onboarding process and minimize the need for internal staff to dedicate extensive time to training basic operations.

Furthermore, the Port Virtual Lab’s simulation experience provides a level of consistency and standardization in training. Students from different educational institutions or backgrounds receive the same fundamental knowledge and skill set, ensuring a common baseline of expertise. This standardization not only benefits the companies employing interns but also enhances collaboration and communication among industry professionals.

PLIKA – YEP MED’s legacy

Recognizing the potential of simulators, training centers and instructors are embracing this technology as a valuable tool to enhance their teaching methodologies. This transition requires adapting instructional approaches, curriculum design, and assessment methods to effectively incorporate simulators into training programmes. It necessitates upskilling instructors to leverage the full potential of simulation technology and integrate it seamlessly into their teaching practices.

This is where PLIKA comes into play. The birth of the Academy marks a significant step towards fostering collaboration and progress among port communities worldwide. It serves as a collaborative platform where, on an international level, training centers, instructors, and industry professionals can come together to share best practices, exchange experiences, and collectively address the challenges associated with the integration of simulators in training programmes. It provides a space for knowledge exchange, networking, and cooperation, fostering a community-driven approach to enhance training effectiveness and innovation. The primary objective of PLIKA is to build a strong network of collaboration, positioning port communities as lighthouse of development and drivers of societal progress. It’s founding members are those who collaborated on the YEP MED project, including the MEDports Association – which helps enlarge the collaborative forum of partnerships.

Through PLIKA, training centers can share insights on successful simulator implementations, discuss strategies for curriculum integration, and collaborate on the development of standardized training modules. Instructors can exchange pedagogical approaches, explore simulation-based teaching methodologies, and access resources to enhance their instructional techniques. Industry professionals can provide valuable insights into the practical applications of simulators and contribute to the development of industry-relevant training programs.

The collaborative nature of PLIKA enables stakeholders to learn from each other’s experiences, leverage collective expertise, and accelerate the adoption of simulators in training environments. By coming together under the PLIKA umbrella, training centers and instructors can navigate the transition process more efficiently, avoiding duplicative efforts and benefiting from shared knowledge.

Conclusion:

PLIKA’s establishment symbolizes a collective commitment to empower port communities, training centres and drive societal progress. By fostering collaboration, sharing knowledge, and embracing innovation, PLIKA enables port communities to become catalysts for economic growth, sustainability, and social well-being. Through its initiatives, PLIKA aims to create a future where port communities thrive, making a lasting impact on the industry and society as a whole. Training centres are not left behind. The emergence of simulators as a vital component of business training has necessitated an unprecedented transition effort by training centers and instructors. PLIKA serves as a collaborative platform where stakeholders can share experiences, exchange best practices, and collectively address the challenges associated with incorporating simulators into training programmes. By fostering a collaborative community-driven approach, PLIKA aims to enhance training effectiveness, encourage innovation, and facilitate the seamless integration of simulators in the educational landscape, whilst at the same time ensuring that port communities stay at the forefront of global innovation and progress.

Written by:

Eduard Rodés, Director - Escola Europea - Intermodal Transporrt

Written by: Eduard Rodés,
Director – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transporrt

Written by Lidia Slawinska, Digital Communication Manager – Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by Orlando Revecco, Digital Product Manager of the Escola Europea

Driving Innovation: Escola Europea and Barcelona Port Foundation join forces

The TECHLOG Project, Port Virtual Lab and the Green Deal

Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea

Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea

At the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport we are slowly approaching the end of a very busy period. With the Europea project YEP MED nearing its final days, the Escola’s signature course bookings gaining full steam ahead, the SIL conference at which not one, but two of our big projects were featured alongside our signature training offers, and more, we have had very short periods of respite. This is good news for us – a testament to the influence that we hold throughout the Mediterranean port community. But this quarter I wanted to share with you – our alumni community –a particularly special partnership that we have forged; one with the Port of Barcelona’s Innovation Foundation.

This past month, the Escola Europea has forged a strategic alliance with the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation, setting a firm commitment to propel the transformation of the maritime-port sector. The agreement highlights already existing innovative initiatives such as TECHLOG – a project co-funded by the European Union which will encourage joint Technology Transfer Initiatives (TTI) to achieve common quality standards for transport and port specialized staff within the participating ports and beyond – and Port Virtual Lab – a complete logistics virtual simulator that offers technological and educational tools through which international trade, logistics and transport students or professionals can simulate real life operations. Central to these efforts is the two parties’ dedication towards achieving the objectives of the European Union’s Green Deal, with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability that encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions.

Transforming the Maritime-Port Sector

The Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation, supported by prominent entities such as the Port of Barcelona, Ackcent, and Aggity, has set forth an ambitious mission to establish the maritime-port sector as a worldwide leader in innovation and operational excellence. Fuelled by their unwavering dedication, their primary objective revolves around transforming the Port of Barcelona into a dynamic Smart Hub, underpinned by the seamless integration of cutting-edge technological advancements and the fundamental principles of the Blue Economy.

And this is where we come in.

TECHLOG

TECHLOG project

As an integral part of this endeavour, the Escola Europea actively participates in the TECHLOG project, which is co-financed by the ENI CBCMED programme. This initiative entails a series of activities directed towards training educators for the development of Living Labs.

“A Living Lab (LL) is an open-innovation ecosystem centered around user participation, situated within a public-private-people partnership. This unique model is rooted in a systematic user co-creation approach, seamlessly integrating research and innovation processes.”

The Escola Europea has been at the forefront of these labs in Livorno (Italy) for participants from the Western Mediterranean, and in Alexandria (Egypt) for participants from the Eastern Mediterranean – making sure that the knowledge is accessible by parties from across our shared Sea.

Most Mediterranean sectors suffer from poor connections between research, development and education, from one side, and, the real economy, from the other side – a situation that TECHLOG wants to address by strengthening ties between academia and the (trans)port industry. By encouraging joint Technology Transfer Initiatives (TTI) to achieve common quality standards for transport and port specialized staff, the goal is to create a Mediterranean Open Lab to promote and share those initiatives within the (trans)port communities. These TTI will be tested through pilot actions, in real port operators, and will involve trained staff.

The Port Virtual Lab

Moreover, the Escola Europea and the Foundation are collaborating on the development of Port Virtual Lab (PVL). This venture is an innovation laboratory where burgeoning technological solutions are explored and validated, creating a unique environment of collaboration and learning using simulators and simulated companies. Essentially, PVL is a training platform that allows performing operations related to logistics and international transport in our Virtual Port Community. Both professionals and students are be able to experience first hand activities related to international trade, while interacting with our simulated companies.

Success of Port Virtual Lab

The Escola has received numerous success stories following the launch of Port Virtual Lab and its incorporation in the courses developed under the European YEP MED programme, of which we are lead partners. The development of the European project encountered significant obstacles in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, and the experiential training courses planned for the initiative could no longer take place. This gave rise to the PVL platform. With an instrumental partnership from Click & Cargo, at the Escola we were able to create this amazing and comprehensive tool that would help us take the port operations and transactions directly to the monitors of our remote students. PVL was fundamental in maintaining continuity in education and student internships.

The platform’s power has been enhanced through its continuous usage and improvement processes. Today, companies expect students to have prior simulator training, which greatly speeds up their learning curve when they begin internships or enter the workforce directly. This demonstrates the practical value and effectiveness of the training provided by Port Virtual Lab, and shines a bright light on its future.

Commitment to Sustainability

Each project spearheaded by the Escola Europea underscores its unwavering commitment to holistic sustainability, embracing the realms of economic, social, and environmental well-being for us as global citizens. This profound dedication finds resonance with the ambitious targets outlined in the European Union’s Green Deal.

The Green Deal, proposed by the European Commission, is an audacious set of policy initiatives directed towards making Europe climate neutral by 2050. These initiatives not only focus on environmental preservation but also on revitalizing the economy and improving the quality of life for all citizens. By aligning our pursuits with those outlined in the initiatives, we are striving to ensure our contributions effectively drive towards a sustainable, resilient, and just Europe. Working together, the Escola and the Barcelona Port Foundation can work towards ensuring that Barcelona is at the vanguard of Europe’s efforts to bring around a sustainable Mediterranean.

Conclusion

The partnership between the Escola Europea and the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation is built upon the pillars of collaboration, sustainable development, knowledge, and innovation. Leveraging the Escola’s pioneering simulated business solutions and training methods, their expertise can be harnessed at every stage of the innovation process.

The strategic alliance between the Escola Europea and the Barcelona Port Innovation Foundation plays a pivotal role in spearheading innovation, sustainability, and efficiency within the maritime-port sector, with a unique Mediterranean and Barcelona perspective. With a steadfast commitment to education, innovation, and the development of transformative solutions, we can  contribute significantly to the transformation of the Port of Barcelona into a globally recognized Smart Hub.

You too can get involved!

Today, we must all accept that innovation is the fuel for building a new society that needs to confront substantial economic, environmental, and social challenges. Follow the activities that the Foundation and the Escola are doing and will do in the future. Engage in those where you can contribute.

Together, we are strong