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.
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.
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.
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 Lidia Slawinska, Digital Communication Manager – Escola Europea Intermodal Transport
Written by Orlando Revecco, Digital Product Manager of the Escola Europea