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Education, a passport to innovation and success

Anwar Zibaoui

Written by: Anwar Zibaoui

While unemployment continues to follow an upward curve, a large majority of companies complain of talent shortages, and of having difficulty finding candidates with the right set of skills.

The education systems of many Mediterranean countries are producing many graduates with skills that do not match those demanded by businesses and which are needed in a competitive labour market. We are talking about a generation of graduates without adequate training and skills to contribute productively to the modern-day economy.

To solve this pressing issue, governments, businesses and the education world must join forces to align skills with needs. Businesses can play an important role in the job creation process by properly tapping into their own ecosystems. The academic sector needs to adopt a more practical approach and develop appropriate training programmes, focusing on immediate priorities while driving long-term systematic reforms. Governments also need to change the framework: from a position of command and control to one of communication and convening. A new paradigm is needed and only by working together in a multi-partnership can we hope to achieve meaningful results.

Education is a powerful force that can accelerate economic growth, improve income distribution, facilitate social mobility, and reduce poverty: something that should be high on the political agenda.

The Mediterranean must prepare itself to handle the global battles of innovation, knowledge and sustainability. In the region, the most immediate economic challenge is not diversification, or new tax regimes, but namely the creation of enough productive and sustainable jobs for its youth. At the same time, there is the challenge of equipping ourselves with the mix of talents and skills that will make us more competitive in the digital revolution and the Industry 4.0.

Change is a pre-determined state; we must learn to prepare for it, and we are facing unprecedented changes, some of which bring with them threats of a global magnitude and on scales that can be measured in decades. The scope of the current COVID-19 pandemic, for example, is a wake-up call.

In this context, education becomes an increasingly important resource if change is not to be feared or unexpected, and this raises the question of universal access. The more of the world is well educated, the more likely it is to be able to cope with changes that offer opportunities and challenges.

Schools must provide an education that produces students who take risks without fear of change: innovative, creative, analytical, techno-enthusiastic, ethical and resilient. These are the young future leaders of tomorrow. A good education is as important and vital a provision as having a home, food or healthcare.

Young people are ready to move society and the economy forward, yet without access to quality education and training opportunities, they cannot participate in the 21st century workforce. The passport to winning is to offer them education in the most challenging environments, with the skills and certification they need.

Economic progress is related to training and innovation activities, and there is a correlation between social progress and entrepreneurial activity. Innovation is the path to survival and development, the fuel for constant progress, and the model for the rise of a company or a nation.

The main key to innovation is training. Companies that invest in providing their employees with the right skills are the ones that grow. Governments must do the same, improving skills and encouraging innovation among their employees and in the education system. Governments also need to rebalance spending, as well as invest in the tangible such as  infrastructure, and equally in intangibles such as education, research and development.

Simultaneously, within this framework, universities must bridge the gap between the classroom and businesses through practical programmes that develop the skills for business creation, decision-making and risk management.

Harnessing a country’s human potential means having a long-term strategy to cope with a rapidly changing environment and to ensure that the rights of groups and individuals are respected.

It is necessary to define the characteristics of national or regional policies on human capital management for sustainable development, to articulate the commitments and practices of political and economic actors in the fields of education, training and employment, and to take stock in terms of improvements between what can be done and the prospects to be envisaged.

The events of the last few years on both shores of the Mediterranean are setting the direction that governments must take: boosting lifelong and vocational training and creating jobs capable of playing a role in an open and global world. The challenge is to build together a society of knowledge and innovation based on equal opportunities for men and women.

So, without good instruction there is no order of instruction and without good instruction there is no good training and without good training there will be no economic development. Education and training are the key values for the success of any nation. The opposite condemns a country to remain underdeveloped, even if the country has natural resources or wealth.

 

This article appeared originally in Spanish on the Atalayar website.

Anwar Zibaoui is the General Coordinator of ASCAME and a columnist for various media outlets.
The panel at the press conference

The Escola Europea and Click&Cargo develop a virtual port to be used in simulation exercises

In the framework of the European YEP MED project, the agreement between the Escola Europea and the software development company Click&Cargo has been presented to the public on the 26th of May 2021.

Logos of the entities involved in the project

Participating in the event from the Escola Europea were its director Eduard Rodés and its Chief Business Officer Marta Miquel. The Project Manager from Click & Cargo, Valentina Salinas and the head of development Alex Rodriguez, alongside Marisa Clavero – a teacher from the Institut Lluïsa Cura, and Guillem Sardañés, CEO of the freight forwarding company eGlobe, also joined the press conference to explain the details of the agreement.

Eduard Rodés presented the YEP MED project and the PortVirtualLab.com platform, which will be used for the development of the training applications foreseen in the European project. YEP MED, funded by the ENI CBC Med programme, has a budget of 2.97 million euros and a planned duration of 30 months.

One of the main characteristics of the development of the project has been the close and fruitful collaboration of different organisations in the Barcelona Port Logistics Community, including: the Barcelona Port Authority, ATEIA, Institut Les Salines, Institut Lluïsa Cura, Click&Cargo and various private companies in the sector such as eGlobe.

Marta Miquel of the Escola Europea has highlighted that the agreement has already enabled training in the use of the platform for trainers from institutes and training centres in the 7 participating countries from the project: Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. A total of 38 teachers specialised in International Trade from 12 training centres have been prepared to deliver the practice sessions in their respective centres and countries in the coming months.

Since last week, some of these trainers have already begun putting into practice what they have learned in a course that is being conducted online. 148 trainees from Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Lebanon are currently simulating project operations in the first course of this kind for students.

Valentina Salinas emphasised that the use of Click&Cargo as an ERP platform for the freight forwarding sector was the result of a public tender in which it obtained the best score for its technical features and ease of use. The proposed platform is fully accessible online and in English, which eliminates the barriers of distance and language in a sector where English is the lingua franca. The platform aims to integrate digitalisation processes, facilitating and automating the usual tasks of freight forwarding companies.

The co-founder and director of eGlobe, Guillem Sardañés, highlighted the speed and efficiency of the training that students receive in a relatively short time – achieving the same results in just a few weeks -something that normally require months of training. Sardañés highlighted the rapid process of digitalisation of freight forwarding companies and the need to have personnel prepared to face the challenges and changes that these processes entail. He also affirmed that the similarity of real-life operations to the simulated ones is amazing and proposed that the tool could also serve professionals active in the sector as an aid in digital transitions.

On behalf of the training institutes Marisa Clavero emphasised that the YEP MED programme and the PortVirtualLab.com platform have made it possible to go to the most minute levels of details in operations for the first time, which in practice means a simulation of the activities carried out in all levels of a company. She further emphasised the value of the students’ relations with the teams from the other countries, who act as corresponding agents in their respective countries during the exercises. The management of these relations, with the added complexity of dealing with different cultures, different languages and different visions, is a very valuable experience for the profile of a worker in a freight forwarding company, who is also a citizen of the world by the nature of his or her work.

Eduard Rodés pointed out that contact with other software companies in the sector has already begun, with the goal to extend training to other groups from the Port Logistics Community in the coming years and that the Escola Europea will work to facilitate the digitisation processes of all the actors involved in operations.

For more information on the YEP MED project you can contact Concha Palacios from the project office at concha.palacios@portdebarcelona.cat.

YEP MED VT01 - Maritime Visit

Barcelona: EU-funded YEP MED trains future professionals in the port management and logistics sector

The training, carried out by the Escola Europea saw the participation of more than 50 students from Institut les Salines in el Prat de Llobregat

This week the first course of the YEP MED project’s vocational training series, funded by the EU’s ENI CBC Med Programme, came to a close in Barcelona. The week-long course, initially scheduled to take place virtually, took a hybrid format when it became possible to host some lectures in the Escola’s classroom in person – the Aula dels Estels – and to physically visit the Port of Barcelona. The objective of the course was to provide first-year students of vocational training in International Trade and those studying Transport and Logistics at the Institut Les Salines in Barcelona with first-hand knowledge of the Port of Barcelona, its infrastructures, logistics equipment and operations, as well as its environmental management and its digital sphere. The course also gave the companies represented by the sector associations in the training the opportunity to showcase the characteristics of their activities and the professional profiles they need to develop appropriately, whilst at the same time encouraging an open dialogue between the centres and the companies and promoting the creation of dual-training opportunities.

The theoretical contents of the course focused on Port Management characteristics, introduced Port-Logistics Community Actors (Maritime Customs, Customs Brokers, Freight Forwarders, Ship Agents, Stevedores, Border Inspection Post) and touched on environmental policies and characteristics, as well as the emergence of Smart Ports. To complement the theoretical training, workshops were planned which included an in-person maritime visit to the Port of Barcelona, , a workshop on customs procedures, a workshop on freight forwarders operations, as well as a FunTraders session, an international trade simulation game. The training was completed with a Kahoot test designed to test the knowledge gained by the course participants during the week. The classes were given by professionals from the Port of Barcelona, the Maritime Customs Administration in the Port of Barcelona, the Association of Customs Agents in Barcelona, the Association of International Freight Forwarders, the Shipping Agens Association in Barcelona and the Escola Europea.

“After one exciting week, I feel very lucky that I took part in the YEP MED program in his first edition, held by the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport”, attested Aymen Kadri, a student from the Institut Les Salines, upon completing the training. “Despite the newness of this project, we as students were well-surprised by the high level of organisation and efficient coordination set by the Escola Europea team and the professionals of the logistics field in Barcelona. As for myself it was a real breakthrough in widening my knowledge.

From day one, it was noticeable how:

  • Enthusiastic these executives were about their domain
  • Passionate about transmitting the data to us without leaving any doubt or confusion
  • Impressive they were in combining theory with practice.

For the practical side, we had a great chance to find out the various operations from the departments of the Barcelona Port, and through Marta Miquel we received attentive guidance. Innovation signs were obvious, encouraging for new development perspectives.”

Foto Aula dels Estels - YEP MED course

The Vocational Training 1 course is the first part of a 3-training course methodology developed under the project, designed to prepare the students and young adults for transport and logistic professions in the Mediterranean region. As part of the later training, the participants will be able to simulate certain real-life operations in a digital twin of a port community created for the project. This kind of digital and practical experience will help prepare the students for any challenges that they may face in real working environments.

About YEP MED

The YEP MED project, led by the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, aims to develop port-logistics training and vocational (TVET) resources adapted to sector needs to strengthen youth employability; increase and upgrade local employment opportunities through the creation of real dual-learning programmes with job placements, strengthening the role of SME’s operating in the port ecosystems for future employment creation; and set up collaborative national and transnational partnerships between port-logistics associations, operators, SMEs, training centres and VET providers, whilst introducing a PPP co-management process.

The project counts on the participation of partners from Spain, Italy, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. Throughout 30 months, the partners and associates of the project will implement tools to achieve the main objectives of this initiatives, in the short, medium and long terms. For a full list of partners of the YEP MED project, you can go to the project’s website. As associated entities, MEDPorts association and Consell Valencià de la Joventut will also join the project. The project will receive 2.9 M€ (90% EU Contribution) in funding over its lifetime

For more information on the project you can contact Concha Palacios from the project office at concha.palacios@portdebarcelona.cat.