Much of the acquisition of skills in professional aquaculture occurs outside the scope of the awarding of accredited University/College tertiary degrees or diplomas. This is amply borne out by the results from the WAVE surveys.

Such skills may be acquired through formal certification (termed 'vocational') or by informal means (experience-based, workplace assessment, lifelong learning).

One of the priorities of current EU VET policy is to develop a credit transfer system for VET (ECVET), which will perform the same function as ECTS credits. However, in VET, a wide range of different providers are involved as there are a very large number and very wide variety of qualifications, diplomas, certificates, etc, and qualifications which may be obtained following several different kinds of learning pathways, formal, non-formal or informal.

The proposed ECVET system is based on the description of qualifications in terms of knowledge, skills and competences, organised into units that can be transferred and accumulated, and the allocation of credit points to these units. The units can be placed within the over-arching European Qualifications Framework (EQF) which can also include sectoral frameworks. Currently there is no agreed Europe-wide system for accrediting such types of training in aquaculture. It was therefore of real importance for the WAVE project that the methodology utilised should be capable of initiating and sustaining dialogue with providers, employers and employees on a trans-European scale, and also be able to bear intensive scrutiny by all interested parties.

Each country has developed its own training requirements, based on different needs and criteria, and should have started the process of incorporating such vocational training into an overall national qualifications framework. Nevertheless, the latest Progress Report (16th May 2006) reports that "additional measures are urgently needed" in order to achieve the Lisbon objectives by 2010(SEC(2006) 689).

WAVE will play its part in developing a common currency of qualifications and competences, with an emphasis on quality control in order to improve the standing of vocational qualifications and competences at international level.

WAVE's stated goals:

  • To produce a comprehensive and definitive list of aquaculture relevant qualifications, including skills, expertise, knowledge requirements and industrial competencies
  • To map out the current existing systems in place in Europe (degrees, diplomas, vocational training, non-formal, lifelong learning)
  • To create an overview of the accreditation systems in each country
  • To create an accurate list of competencies related to aquaculture production for all of Europe (all species, all technologies and differences around Europe).