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Pisces Learning Innovations Ltd.


The BlueEDU ambition

The aims of BlueEDU, an Erasmus+ funded Aquaculture Sector Skills Alliance were recently re-confirmed by partners and are described to stakeholders below. The current investigative phase has been devised to research the aquaculture education and training needs in 12 European countries that cage farm fish. The results will be compiled by the end of December 2018 and used to inform future bids for aquaculture education and training  innovation, leading to higher quality aquaculture courses that are more accessible by work based learners.


The goal is to identify skills gaps within the European aquaculture workforce, determine VET demand and supply, and establish industry and VET providers’ receptiveness to innovative VET delivery methods. 

Aim 1To determine how aquaculture occupations and occupational standards are defined in the 12 BlueEDU partner countries

Step 1    Investigate existing definitions of aquaculture occupations and occupational standards and their application to education and training design

Roles definitions applicable to cage farming at the operative level (husbandry and supervisory) will be explored in the 12 partner countries cage farming fish. Within many systems, occupational standards are defined in terms of the knowledge, skills and competences needed to undertake the role, whether at husbandry or supervisory level.

Step 2    Establishing a new ‘labour skills foresight forum’

The BlueEDU partners intend to establish a ‘labour skills foresight committee’ composed of senior managers from producer and supply companies with a workforce development remit or interest. This committee will define cage farming knowledge, skills and competences in terms that can then be used to evaluate existing education and training provision to identify gaps and inform the development of new education and training provision.

Step 3   Define Occupations and Occupational Standards for cage farming

The labour skills foresight committee will propose specific European Occupational Standards (EOS) for cage farming that are technically up to date and reflect company Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Subsequently, the EOS can be used underpin revisions of National Occupational Standards (NOS) and National Qualifications (NQ) development in each cage farming country.


Aim 2To determine the demand from industry for aquaculture education and training

Step 1  Evaluate the existing European aquaculture education and training information base

This study will evaluate any previous education and training surveys and data analysis that may be useful, in order to indentify information gaps, or areas of uncertainty that the BlueEDU education and training supply and demand surveys can target subsequently.

Step 2  Determine gaps in aquaculture knowledge and skills and language barriers to learning

Comprehensive surveys will be designed and implemented to establish the knowledge and skills gaps that both producer and supply companies have recognised in the cage farming workforce at husbandry and supervisory levels. As the European aquaculture workforce is increasingly diverse in terms of national origin and first language, most noticeably within fish processing, surveys will establish the influence that language barriers have on learning and mobility.

Step 3   Determine ICT and environmental management skills

Cage farms are increasingly ‘high tech’ and digital systems for cage surveillance, stock monitoring and evaluation, fish feeding and the assessment of health and production performance, abound. The underutilisation of technology has been raised as a concern. It appears that the knowledge and skills operators require need to be better defined, leading to the development of more accessible and effective training in ‘applied digital technologies’ and the operation of sophisticated equipment.

The knowledge and skills required to manage and mitigate the environmental impact of cage farming will be clearly defined for cage farming operatives and related to available technological solutions and practices.

Step 4   Establishing the type of education and training needed in the future

Many cage farms are too remote for their staff to access a suitable education and training facility. Therefore, as well creating course content that reflects current technology and practices, innovative delivery methods are required to overcome geographic barriers to access. Learning and communication technologies that can support education and training delivery could be deployed more in the future. However, it is important to establish the industry’s receptiveness to these more innovative approaches and their learners’ readiness.


Aim 3    Evaluate aquaculture education and training supply

Step 1   Mapping aquaculture courses and qualifications

All of the aquaculture qualifications relevant to cage farming operatives in the 12 BlueEDU partner countries will be evaluated to establish the content and educational level of each and an inventory created that includes any statutory training. The content will be compared to definitions of cage farming occupations (husbandry and supervisor) previously developed. The European Qualifications framework (EQF) will be used to compare the educational levels of different qualifications.

Step 2   Identify equivalencies between existing aquaculture qualifications

Based on the above mapping, qualification equivalencies will be identified between different aquaculture courses, relevant to caged fish production. They will be described in terms of the knowledge, skills and competences assessed and their EQF level, helping to identify potential opportunities for collaboration.

Step 3     Evaluate the capacity of education and training providers for innovative delivery of education and training

The aquaculture and education skills, experience and qualifications of practitioners, including; teachers, lecturers, instructors and assessors, will be defined. Education and training providers will be encouraged to reveal their partnerships with other providers and the aquaculture industry, to help identify opportunities where a more collaborative approach towards innovative education and training development could be encouraged.

Step 4    Evaluate education and training methods

Education and training providers will be encouraged to evaluate their own approaches to teaching and learning to establish their ‘readiness’ for the development of more innovative approaches towards education and training delivery, with particular regard to work based learners.

Step 5   Evaluate the attitudes of fish farming and technology supply companies towards education and training and workforce development

Each companies approach to workforce development and their rationale and attitudes need to be explored, before more innovative and collaborative approaches can be discussed. Some companies have become very self sufficient and reliant on ‘in company’ training of staff to satisfy their own immediate needs, whilst others work with training providers.


Aim 4    Evaluate current approaches to assessment within aquaculture courses

Step 1   Evaluate work based assessment practices

The existing approaches to the assessment of knowledge, skills and competences, need to be explored in some depth to evaluate the reliability of current practices and to identify good practice.

This may be exemplified by use of learning and communication technology and alternative assessment methods that can make knowledge assessment more flexible for work based learners. The assessment of practical skills and competences is a different challenge, conducted within a real farm environment and requiring cooperation between providers and aquaculture company managers.

Step 2   Investigate how informal prior learning can be recognised and accredited

There are great advantages to recognising the existing knowledge, skills and competences of learners who have had some aquaculture experience, at the start their formal education or training course. This allows tutors to organise group or individual learning based on the results, and if embedded within a quality assured assessment process, prior learning can not only be recognised, but also accredited, thereby contributing towards the achievement of a formal qualification.

Step 3   Investigate the regulation of education and training

The different ‘regulatory environments’ governing vocational education and training within the 12 BlueEDU partner countries will be explored. An understanding of their impact on vocational education and training design, development and delivery processes will be established. On the assumption that it is easier for education and training providers from similar regulatory environments to collaborate, this is likely to influence the formation of collaborative groups.

Step 4   Investigate the education and training quality assurance processes

The regulatory environments governing vocational education and training within the 12 BlueEDU partner countries will determine the quality assurance obligations of education and training providers. The effectiveness of different quality assurance mechanisms will be evaluated from the providers’ perspective, with regard to the impact on the quality of aquaculture education and training in general, and work based learning and qualifications in particular.



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