Designing an innovative training methodology for Blue Careers in Water Sports Tourism

Fani Galatsopoulou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

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Clio Kenterelidou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Nautical tourism is a fast-growing and dynamic sector. According to the Commission Staff Working Document on Nautical Tourism which refers to the study 'Assessment of the impact of Business Development Improvements around Nautical Tourism’, the EU's maritime tourism sector creates up to 234 000 jobs and generates € 28 billion annual revenue. About 48 million EU citizens regularly participate in water sports, out of which 36 million regularly participate in boating activities. Coastal and maritime tourism can be a significant source of growth and jobs but still lacks skilled and educated workforce. The evolution of new, innovative maritime businesses, drive the requirement for promoting new skills and renewing the skills of those who work in the maritime economy (European Commission, 2017).
While many jobs in the tourism industry have been replaced by robots, applications on personal mobile devices or smart systems, leaving the low-skill tasks to humans, researchers argue that tourism jobs are not disappearing, they are just redefined (Hsu, 2018). New knowledge and new skills are needed to satisfy new innovative products and foster new careers.
Local employability is another issue to be considered. The vocational training for local people has to be aligned with the needs of the local tourism SME’s and the needs of the emerging tourism sector in order to increase local people’s employability (Castiglioni, Lozza, Libreri, & Anselmi, 2017)
Balancing between local employability and circular economy in order to create higher-value jobs and promote blue growth is a challenge for the maritime tourism sector.
Academic research about tourism education and vocational training in Tourism examine curriculum models and highlight the importance of developing vocational and key transferable skills and the need to add value and increase employability (Fidgeon, 2010; Haven-Tang & Jones, 2008; Castiglioni et al., 2017; Zagonari, 2009; Kim & Jeong, 2018).
This poster presents the EU-funded Nautilus project (EASME/EMFF), a university-business collaboration in SE Mediterranean basin, that aims to renew education and training curriculum model for the Blue Careers in Water Sports Tourism. This project expands the boundaries of formal and informal education, academia and industry, public and private sector by bringing together a public university, three water sports tourism SMEs, an IT company and an accreditation and certification organisation to collaborate and produce a training and professional qualification framework for upskilling the water sports tourism professionals.
Water sports tourism professionals should have theoretical and practical knowledge of Water Sports and Tourism/Hospitality. Furthermore, since this specific workforce is characterised by circulation due to the seasonality of this job, these professionals should acquire knowledge about their working environment (the SME, the regional human, cultural, and natural environment).
An innovative methodology for flexible, blended, collaborative, and work-based learning will be developed that will offer learners the opportunity to gain basic theoretical knowledge and acquire new skills and competences. Furthermore, learners will be able to customise their learning path, according to prior knowledge and skills and become at the end certified Water Sports Tourism Professionals with increased self-esteem, able to provide high-quality services, act as local ambassadors and raise awareness about sea-related issues.
This education and certification framework will contribute to the international recognition and improvement of the coastal and maritime professional qualifications. It will encourage workforce circulation and job mobility while bridging the gap between the skills of workers and the needs of the labour market.
Finally, this university-business collaboration and initiative will respond to the increased global competition in the tourism sector, the ongoing financial issues in the SE Mediterranean basin, and unemployment.