SEAPLANSPACE – trainings on maritime spatial planning
1. Why was SEAPLANSPACE project’s training needed? What is its economic and social context? Who is it for?
The SEAPLANSPACE project aims to strengthen the competences of people who work or prepare for work related to maritime spatial planning (MSP) in the context of sustainable sea management, which supports socio-economic development, especially in many areas of the maritime economy. Educational activities aimed at strengthening competences in small and medium enterprises (SME) are necessary for the sea area development plans in all the European Union member states by 31 March 2021, then their implementation, realisation and changes in the future.
To achieve a full training goal, it was necessary to select appropriate participants, i.e. diversify them according to their place of employment, industry represented, professional experience, as well as the need for professional development and acquiring knowledge. The group of participants included people employed in public and local administration at various levels, such as specialists, inspectors, as well as managers and people representing business institutions, both private entities and the State Treasury companies. The industries represented included offshore wind energy, gas industry, nuclear energy, offshore mining, maritime agencies, maritime construction, real estate and seaports. People from non-governmental organisations also participated in the training. About 40 per cent of the participants were students and university graduates of various fields of study, such as law, European business administration, international economic relations, international transport and maritime trade, oceanography and geography, as well as spatial management. Such diversification allowed gaining added value during the workshops: exchange of information and experiences, as well as establishing relations which can be used in the participants' further career related to the implementation of the maritime spatial development plan.
2. What activities are planned during the training? What was achieved before the pandemic? What are the effects of the first edition of the training?
Project training is carried out by project partners in parallel in five countries from the South Baltic region. They were planned in the form of workshops covering practical issues (case studies). Polish and foreign experts were lecturers in the Polish part of the training which ended in January. For classes conducted in English, simultaneous translation was provided.
The first edition of training courses conducted at the University of Gdańsk, at the Faculty of Law and Administration, was completed in January 2020, i.e. before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Classes were carried out stationary. The 80-hour classroom training was completed by 83 people (three groups of participants). In the post-training feedback, the participants emphasized that participation in the SEAPLANSPACE project was an extremely valuable experience for them and directed some people to a new path of professional development and allowed them to specify the further path of professional development. The participants also admitted that direct contact with high-class specialists in various fields of maritime spatial planning was for them the best form of gaining valuable and much-needed knowledge in such a specialised subject.
3. How did the pandemic affect the training delivery? What problems, solutions, and risks appeared? How the second edition of the training went and what are its effects?
In March 2020, when the lockdown was announced in Poland, the second edition of the training was just about to start. We were prepared to start classes for the next group in Gdańsk and the group in Szczecin. A significant part of the activities was already carried out in Lithuania at that time – the remaining part were workshops for professionals and outdoor activities. In Denmark, the pandemic interrupted an ongoing training cycle. The Swedish partners were at the stage of preparations to start the training. The SEAPLANSPACE team started work on changing the schedule and a form of the training. The project’s implementation period was extended by 6 months. In the spring and summertime, it was possible to develop a new training formula based on webinars and e-learning. From September 2020 to January 2021, the University of Gdańsk conducted training using the Microsoft Teams platform for the next two groups. A total of 179 people took part in the two Polish editions.
4. International training module – what added values have been achieved despite the difficulties, considering the participation of representatives from other countries of the South Baltic Region?
A special challenge was an international training module conducted remotely by experts-trainers of SMEs from Germany. The remote training included three interactive sessions, during which participants divided into eight teams worked on selected tasks. It was necessary to set up an additional translation channel during the webinar. The remote formula of the international training also had an additional positive aspect – it allowed the participation of people from Germany, Denmark and Lithuania. Despite many risks, the training turned out to be successful, and it was assessed positively.
5. What are the long-term effects of the training? (established relations between participants, exchange of experiences, cooperation within the project and new contracts).
The second edition of the training has been completed recently, so it is too early to assess the long-term effects of cooperation between participants. The other partners are just finishing the training in their countries. On the other hand, it is worth noting that the participants of the first edition of the training sessions established numerous professional contacts, e.g. by working on planning for Polish offshore wind energy on behalf of various stakeholders.
According to what the training participants said, there is a need to continue this type of educational support that would allow strengthening professional competences. They expressed an interest in expanding their knowledge of MSP in the future. It was suggested to prepare further training, as well as develop a programme of interdisciplinary postgraduate studies in the field of maritime spatial planning and sustainable sea management.
Currently, the SEPLANSPACE project team is working on signing framework agreements with institutions interested and involved in the maritime spatial planning for sustainable sea management to develop cooperation.
The SEAPLANSPACE project has joined the Centre for Sustainable Development recently established at the University of Gdańsk, the activities of which include intensifying cooperation with the socio-economic environment: entrepreneurs, public institutions, public administration, non-governmental organisations, in the field of broadly understood sustainable development.
The article has been prepared in cooperation with representatives of the SEAPLANSPACE project's lead partner, the University of Gdańsk.