The SeaofSkills project directly affected fishers, since, following an analysis of best practices and requirements set at the international and EU level by the Consortium, training needs were mapped through field surveys being conducted in Chios (Greece), Çeşme (Turkey) and Malta. Accordingly, the material produced was pilot-tested and evaluated by fishers in the 3 target areas. The identified training needs were fed into the new vocational education and training material developed.
It is expected that the empowered (through training) fishers will be able to sustain, or further increase their yield, their income, their competitiveness and economic viability, while also improving their safety at sea. Τhe indirect impact should not be underestimated; beyond developing personal qualifications and practical experience, this empowerment of skills can be considered as ‘socially profitable’ in the sense that it offers credit or esteem for fishers and contributes positively to their psychological and social well-being.
Positive multiplier effect: Upskilling and reskilling fishers, while improving the quality and their performance at work has also an impact at economic development, growth and social cohesion. The European Commission has presented (February 2013) its Social Investment Package: Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion to address the growing risk of poverty and social exclusion arising from the crisis. One of the responses put forward to the aforementioned problems is strengthening people’s skills and capacities. In addition, the OECD Skills Strategy (May 2012) aims at fostering a cross-government, peer-learning approach towards improving the supply of anticipating the demand for, and optimising the use of skills in the workforce to promote economic growth and social inclusion. Skills have become the global currency of 21st century economies. Without sufficient investment in skills, people languish on the margins of society, technological progress does not translate into productivity growth and countries can no longer compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. At a time when growing economic and social inequalities are a major challenge, effective skills policies must be part of any response to address this challenge. But this ‘currency’ depreciates as skill requirements of labour markets evolve and individuals lose the skills they do not use. For skills to retain their value, they must be continuously maintained and upgraded throughout life so that people can collaborate, compete and connect in ways that drive economies forward.
Society as a whole, also, has benefited, as the project aimed at furthering the protection of the environment, the marine ecosystem and fostering food security. In addition, it has embedded and popularized the notion of vocational education and training in sectors that until recently have not encountered and adopted similar activities. Regional cooperation facilitated people’s mutual understanding and coordinated practices. It acted as a ‘cultural diplomacy.’