The maritime industry is aiming for more sustainable solutions and seeking new kinds of solutions through digitalisation. Turku UAS develops educational pilots for the new needs of the field.

Text and photo: Mari Loikkanen

Finland is one of the world’s leading countries in shipbuilding. In the future, the maritime industry will be better equipped to meet the demands of digitalisation and the green transition.

This need is addressed in the four-year project called LeaderSHIP ─ Learning European Alliance for Digital, Environmental and Resilient Shipbuilding, coordinated by Turku UAS. The aim of the project is to respond to the new training needs of the European maritime industry and to build long-term strategic cooperation.

─ The common goal is to keep the level of the maritime industry high in Europe and to be pioneers on the global level, says Juha Valtanen, Content Director of the project and Senior Advisor at Turku UAS.

The EU-funded project involves European universities, shipyards, maritime clusters and employers’ and employees’ organisations. In addition to Turku UAS, Finnish participants include Meyer Turku and Turku Vocational Institute.

Training pilots for the needs of the industry

The LeaderSHIP project involves a wide range of development work. One objective is to design training programmes in the maritime industry and to develop training methods to increase the skills of current and future workers. In addition, various training pilots will be carried out.

─ Training pilots can, for example, respond to the wishes and competence needs of a specific shipyard. At the same time, we are creating European-level training that is suitable for everyone, Valtanen says.

In the first phase of the project, it is determined what kind of professional skills are needed to be increased. The change in the IT field and the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence have contributed to the need for changes in jobs and training in the field. Environmental regulations also add their own spice to the whole.

At the same time, there is a desire to attract more young people to the maritime industry. The sector needs more workforce when the previous generation retires.

─ The maritime industry offers diverse international careers also for people with higher education. In the future, completely new expertise will be needed in design, manufacturing, automation, autonomous systems, the utilisation of artificial intelligence and, for example, fuel storage. There is a need for a wide range of expertise, says Project Manager Suvi Kivelä from Turku UAS.

Supporting the green transition

In the early stages of the project, a survey on training and competence needs will be sent to a wide range of companies, educational institutions and stakeholders, and training pilots will be planned based on the responses. The aim is to support the green transition by reducing the carbon footprint of the sector and to accelerate the use of renewable energy sources and alternative fuels.

Digitalisation will be utilised more than before in training. In the marine industry, this means, among other things, utilising digital twins, i.e. a virtual model, in shipbuilding and optimising various processes at the shipyard. Collecting data from the ship with the help of various sensors can help, for example, to anticipate repair needs and develop remote operations. Getting real-time data from the ship also makes it possible to provide a wide range of customer support remotely.

In addition, the project will develop an EU-wide skills strategy for the maritime industry. The strategy will include measures to support the reskilling and upskilling of the workforce in shipbuilding and the maritime industry.

The project is expected to open initiatives to increase the attractiveness of the sector. The strategy considers future occupations that are likely to emerge in the coming years. This already requires action to match the supply and demand of the professions of the future.

The LeaderSHIP project has Erasmus+ funding of five million euros.

In the photo, Juha Valtanen, Suvi Kivelä and Krista Karhunen who work on the LeaderSHIP project.