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Pisces Learning Innovations Ltd.


Erasmus+ mobility in aquaculture

An update on European mobility by Martyn Haines, Director of Pisces Learning Innovations Ltd.

I have had the good fortune to have attended a series of conferences and events in Belgium, Malta, and Spain recently, representing the UK team of ECVET experts. As well as enjoying visits to wonderful cities such as Barcelona and Brussels for the first time, I am also gaining an appreciation of the European Vocational Education and Training (VET) landscape.

At the heart of the ECVET ambition lies the transfer of learning outcomes achieved by learners abroad, ultimately gaining recognition within their own countries’ qualification system. Needless to say, this is a huge challenge in practice, and even more so when the VET systems in some European countries are rudimentary , inadequately quality assured, or simply ‘different’.

Why does mobility matter?

This work is reaching an interesting phase. Currently I am leading the development of an ECVET ‘experts’ peer learning activity which will aim to unlock and share information on the VET assessment and quality assurance (QA) practices of a number of countries, ultimately improving our understanding of each others systems and building mutual trust. This should give the development of ECVET a ‘shot in the arm’, increasing the number of productive learner exchanges and ultimately boosting labour mobility to the benefit on many employers.

The principle of the free movement of labour between member states is one of the central planks of European policy  and a political ‘hotspot’ currently. That aside, it is seen by many as a laudable premise. However, from an employers perspective, judging the qualifications of a job applicant when they have been gained in another country is not easy. The Erasmus+ Programme funds both learner and teacher mobility under ‘Key Action 1′, and through the mobility programmes supported, new partnerships can be forged, helping to develop a better understanding of VET practices across Europe, leading to good practice sharing and increasing commonality.

Using Erasmus + to develop mobility in aquaculture

Three countries keen to set up links with Scotland through Erasmus +, so as their learners can make the gains that an exchange can provide, namely;  Norway, Spain and Malta. As well as experiencing different work practices, new cultures and developing their ability to speak a foreign language, mobility can enhance a learners’ qualifications when ECVET principles are adopted and working effectively. Research has demonstrated that the benefits experience abroad brings are looked upon favourably by employers and put learners at an advantage in the labour market.

I am of the view that mobility partnerships within Europe could also lead to the design development of far more innovative and exciting full time vocational college based courses in aquaculture that have ever been available previously in the UK. This could help to revitalise aquaculture VET, particularly within Scotland. An Erasmus+ Key Action 2 bid is starting to be discussed, in order to raise the funds to support curriculum innovation and widening the horizons of future aquaculture vocational learners.

And that has to be a good thing for all involved!

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