Learning about aquaculture careersAquaculture Remote Classroom (ARC) facilitator Áine-lisa Shannon during a visit to a seaweed farm. Photo: BIM

Welcoming the expansion of the Aquaculture Remote Classroom (ARC) programme to second level schools from September 2021 onwards, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. spoke to a group of transition year students from schools in Buncrana, Carrick, Donegal town, Milford, Letterkenny and Killybegs in Co. Donegal.

Career opportunities in the aquaculture sector is the focus of the new programme that seeks to build greater awareness among second level students of the breadth of career options available.

Skills and qualifications needed for diverse roles including commercial diving, science, sales and marketing will be brought to life in the programme by way of real-life profile interviews with some of the women and men who work in Ireland’s seafood sector.

“I am delighted that this programme is being expanded to include students at second level and with a focus on careers in the seafood sector. Its online format also means it will get to audiences more swiftly and in bigger numbers,” Charlie McConalogue said.

“Attracting skilled and talented young people to work in Ireland’s seafood sector is central to its continued development. My hope is that the new programme can help to inspire students considering their career options when they leave school and to realise the breadth of opportunities that exist within the sector. ”

The interactive mobile classroom is part of the Farmed in the EU campaign and was launched three years ago in 2018 by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development. The ARC is supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and was initially developed to help younger audiences learn about aquaculture in a fun and interactive way using immersive technologies including VR headsets and augmented reality.

The ARC programme also covers modules on the socio-economic and nutritional benefits of aquaculture.

Up until now, the ARC has been available to only primary level pupils in Ireland. In the last 12 months, the ARC has been adapted and delivered entirely online to ensure teachers and students have been continuously able to access the resource.

BIM’s CEO Jim O’Toole highlighted the enduring importance of the seafood sector to Ireland’s coastal communities.

“The seafood sector provides a vital source of jobs and economic activity for coastal communities across Ireland,” he said.

“The continued success and development of the sector is contingent on being able to attract young talent from across different disciplines so that the sector continues to prosper and thrive.”

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