The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal, is one of the 28 Agencies of the European Union. It was founded in 2002 with the aim of reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human lives at sea by helping to enforce the pertinent EU legislation.

EMSA has asked eXact learning solutions to deliver a new four year work plan to increase technological innovation in its distance learning program. The relationship between the two organisations began in 2007, when EMSA selected eXact learning solutions to implement a project which produced hundreds of learning objects, packaged into 13 e-learning modules, on Port State Control. Developed with eXact learning solutions’ LCMS platform and delivered with the Plateau Systems’ – now SuccessFactors’ – LMS to over 1,000 Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) all around Europe, the first project was so successful in terms of learning retention among the students, as well as cost savings in travel time, that it encouraged EMSA to launch another four year program, this time adding additional contents and innovation.

The first work program resulted in a large amount of learning content – addressing key maritime security items such as hull construction, radio, engine and safety equipment, as well as fire protection.

The new four year work program will see eXact learning solutions maintaining the existing modules via a fully-customised version of its eXact LCMS content lifecycle management solution, as well producing new modules. In addition, eXact learning solutions will run pilots on delivering these learning materials via mobile learning. It will also work on an innovative taxonomy-based content classification process for workflow and competency development support, named Maritime Taxonomies & Competencies Horizons (MATCH). The new learning content, along with the preliminary results of the MATCH outcomes, are expected in the second half of 2012.

Comment: It’s always encouraging to find organisations – especially in these economically challenging days – investing enthusiastically in learning/ training.

In the aftermath of the capsizing of the ‘Costa Concordia’ cruise liner off the coast of Italy in January this year, commentators suggested that the accident was a function of poor training. In these situations, training is an easy target. Whether or not the quantity and quality of training is really to blame may be debatable but the total cost – in human lives if nothing else – would be even higher if no training was ever done.

Hopefully, EMSA will continue to invest in these learning materials – especially in delivering them via mobile devices, since these would seem appropriate for an industry whose workers are rarely static and ‘office bound’.