Tag Archive for: Sapientia

Arete Statue

Human Capital

On the 15th anniversary of the Escola Europea

Written by: Damià Calvet, president of the Escola Europea and the Port de Barcelona

I took up the post of the president of the Port of Barcelona a few months ago, and in this time I have been experiencing a multifaceted reality of the port – or ports, because there are more than one – which includes its different activities, projects and the people that comprise its community.

In the planning of the duties that have been entrusted to me when I was appointed, I always keep the mission of the institution that I represent in mind. According to the recently approved 4th Strategic Plan, the port was recognised as the body responsible for guaranteeing services that facilitate the competitiveness of its customers, and that create value for society: through infrastructures and services offered to the society to which it is indebted.

For the first time the 4th Strategic Plan was drafted with the collaboration of the Port-Logistics Community. Five work groups were created based on the main areas of activity and traffic of the port, fostering a participatory and integrative model that included not only the port community but the end customers as well, alongside all public and private agents involved and interested in the future of the port.

This means that an important part of the outcome of the port’s strategic approach depends on the people who work in the port community, and therefore its limit is the capacity and success of those who make up its human capital. More than 200 representatives of the stakeholders of the port logistics community wished to be involved in the drafting of the plan.

The Fourth Strategic Plan opts for a three-dimensional Strategic Objective, which reflect the three pillars of sustainability -the first attribute of the logistics hub of Barcelona – economic, environmental and social. The three parts are considered inseparable, therefore achieving one of the parts without the other two cannot be considered a success. All three parts must be achieved simultaneously. The port cannot grow economically without reducing the environmental footprint of its activities or without consolidating quality employment.

The Port’s Strategic Objective is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs focus on the same three components of sustainable development that underscore this strategic plan and the action plan for the next five years.

For social sustainability the recovery and slight increase in pre-COVID-19 employment is vital despite the intense processes of digitalisation and teleworking. Quality employment on port land is the main benefit that the Port brings to the community that hosts it and compensates for its negative externalities and the physical and mental barriers involved in the fact that it lies in a privileged location for citizens.

Collaboration among members of the port-logistics community becomes a must. This includes a considerable spirit of collaboration with all public and private entities with which the port is obliged to interact, especially with the two cities on whose land it lies, Barcelona and El Prat de Llobregat. It is vital to deepen the cooperation with the organisations lying near the port and especially with the Consortium of the Free Zone (Zona Franca), Mercabarna and the Airport of Barcelona. We need to make the most of the synergies of these three entities to generate wealth and employment. Collaboration with other ports, both nearby (Tarragona first and foremost) and far away, and with logistics operators located outside the port precinct, comprise one of the main added values of Barcelona with respect to other port competences. The ports also mustn’t forget the training centres and research bodies.

Proposal of the Placeta de l'Arete

Proposal of the Placeta de l’Arete

The port must put people at the forefront, setting social cohesion as an essential objective of its strategy by generating high-quality diversified employment. It must orient its strategy towards the interests of two main groups: port workers and the citizens of the two host cities, Barcelona and El Prat del Llobregat. It can do so through fostering training, employment, entrepreneurship and talent attraction; promoting equal opportunities; integrating the port into the urban and metropolitan environment; and finally, ensuring the health, safety and security of people and facilities.

Promoting the employability of people in our immediate surroundings will facilitate the creation of new companies through entrepreneurship and the development of an innovation ecosystem in the logistics and transport field to help attract talent and thus offset automation and digitalisation processes that involve a net destruction of jobs.

The promotion of the Blue Economy will create new jobs and this calls for an integrated port-logistics training centre as part of the knowledge, innovation and training hub at the port of Barcelona. This will serve to promote port culture and port identity and foster knowledge of the port among the populace.

Gender equality and multiculturalism in the port environment are factors that contribute decisively to turning organisations into innovators and leaders in our hinterland: the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, Catalonia, Aragon and the Eastern Pyrenees. This also applies to our sea hinterland: Italy, Morocco, Algeria, Libya. Tunis, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

The Escola must play a leading role in the development of this strategy. From its knowledge of these areas and its proven effectiveness in international projects where knowledge – Sapientia – plays a fundamental role.

May this Sapientia illuminate the path we must travel together.

Happy anniversary!


Sapientia: Ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and perception, in particular in a mature and useful manner.

The concept of Sapientia (or Wisdom), in my opinion, is in an accelerated process of evolution. If we understand it as what we expect people to have to be able to think and act, additional skills – or competences – are called for by today’s society’s standards. Knowledge, as we have understood it in my generation, has been surpassed by Google and tools such as Wikipedia. When we want to know something, we directly head to the Internet. This happens for many reasons. The main one I think is that things change very quickly, and if we want to have up-to-date information on a certain topic, the best option is to look for it online. But that also means that what we have learned in our student years hardly serves us at all. More and more we say that knowledge has been trivialized because such net consultations can be done by anyone from anywhere, and thus specific information – which was traditionally associated with knowledge – has a relative value.

In an article written by Ramón Oliver (published in El País – 30th of March 2018), the author asked Francisco Ruiz Antón, the director of Public Policies of Google Spain, on the criteria in selection processes. His reply presented a very interesting scenario: “Issues such as emotional intelligence, empathy, communication, leadership, teamwork, adaptability, creativity or conflict management are now more important in the selection process than the knowledge of a subject or technology. If a candidate has these basic skills, the rest can always be learned. “

In the same article Oliver highlighted that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) dedicates around 25% of the teaching hours of its programmes to disciplines such as literature, languages, music or history, and points out the resurgence of humanitarian careers in the recent years.

Transferring these ideas to the world of training centres, the question we must ask ourselves is whether traditional formats are useful for the present time and how they should evolve to adapt to this new reality.

On the one hand, we welcome new generations who were brought up with the PlayStation, marking a tendency to gamify – or turn into a game – training. We need to look for techniques that can grasp and maintain attention by controlling time, space, rewards, chance and the development of certain skills.

From the combination of online knowledge and gamification, great advances have emerged in the design and development of simulators and virtual realities. We can now perform almost any practice – or experience as an element of wisdom – through simulators that are increasingly similar to reality.

One more step towards that experience is to move training into the real world. This is what we do at the Escola, and I believe that if possible, it should still the best teaching option; complementing the theoretical sessions with the use of simulators as preparation.

We are left with the big issues that Francisco Ruiz Antón pointed out: teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution … and virtue. These create people capable of doing good things for society.

At the inauguration of the Aula dels Estels (Classroom of the Stars) we invited four prestigious speakers to talk about these issues to other teachers of training centers that participate in our training programmes. At the end of our event, several heads of institutes approached the speakers to ask them to go to their centers to talk with the other teachers, as well as with the students.

The road ahead is clear. All we need to do is walk it together.

Eduard Rodés


Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport