Understanding perceptions of blue economy careers among today’s youth: a comparative analysis between Nova Scotia and a West African Small Island Developing State.

Context

The youth perception surveys are purposely aimed at giving voice to students from diverse backgrounds both within the Nova Scotian community as well as in Cabo Verde. The findings from this research will help inform future targeted messaging, educational and recruitment activities geared towards diversifying the Ocean workforce and addressing locally situated inequities. In addition, it will support the development of programs and initiatives aimed at addressing issues of career perceptions and creating awareness of Ocean careers amongst underrepresented groups. Through the WYTEC program, this research will drive future knowledge exchange, as well as cultural exchange amongst diverse stakeholders located within communities in Atlantic Canada, as well as in West Africa.

Aim

Key components:

  1. The deployment of a comparative youth perception survey in Cabo Verde based on a survey developed by the COVE Workforce Initiative. The survey was targeted at Grades 6-8 and 9-12, and carried out in 2019 (see report of the “Student Intentions and Perceptions Survey”).
  2. The design of a marine ecotourism survey and initial testing (in Nova Scotia) of the marine ecotourism survey methodology, in consultation with tourism experts from both Nova Scotia and Cabo Verde.

This project will serve as credible research to inform the curriculum and experiential learning experiences (for the WYTEC Blue Project, and beyond), by identifying issues of perceptions of Ocean careers and new barriers hindering the participation of underrepresented groups in the Ocean space. It will help identify niche focal areas for further investigation from the youth or business lens. And more broadly, it will expand opportunities for cooperation in relevant training areas between Canada and West African Nations, and contribute to the development of a West African Ocean Business Hub in Cabo Verde, which would act as a major centre servicing the West African subregion.

Significance

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development “will improve the scientific knowledge base through capacity development to regions and groups that are presently limited in capacity and capability, especially Small Island Developing States and the Least Developed Countries” (from the UN Decade brochure). The Business Council of Canada’s report “Why Africa” notes that “by neglecting its economic relationship with Africa, Canada is missing a significant opportunity to grow its trade”. It recommends Canadian industry invest in training for African talent and partner with local Universities to connect with potential recruits.

Canada committed to capacity development at the Nairobi Sustainable Blue Economy Conference which it co-sponsored in 2018. This included commitment of technical assistance and capacity development to Small Island States. The Conference report emphasized that “development of maritime education and training is critical and should be based on comprehensive training, skills and career gap analysis and development of appropriate training policies”. 

 

This project, although pilot-scale, is directly relevant to these needs and commitments. The choice of Cabo Verde for the survey builds on connections via both DOTCAN and German partners, GEOMAR. It will set the scene for future application in major population centres and rapidly developing economies of West Africa.

The tourism industry, in particular, is an important employer and common component of the Blue Economy in Atlantic Canada and West African nations (including Cabo Verde). The success of the tourism economy requires an appropriately trained workforce. A critical first step is to understand the state of local knowledge about the industry, and the type of tourism most appropriate to the natural and human characteristics of the destination.

 

Funding

This Project is partially supported by a financial contribution from the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), through its Seed Fund program.