The latest special of Visserijnieuws features a great article about the Urk Seafood Academy. Read it below:
Urk Seafood Academy development and image enhancement.
Urk bustles with Seafood ambitions
URK – More than 50 companies with a total of more than 4,500 employees dedicate themselves daily to the seafood sector on the former island. To future-proof Urk as a “Seafood Hub,” local businesses have joined forces. The goal: to qualitatively improve the level of training of staff “in the fish” with its own academy. In addition, the Urk Fish Wholesalers Association (VVU) wants to further solidify Urk Seafood’s image in the market.
Things are buzzing in Urk. The well-known fishing village, with a population of just under 22,000, is booming in seafood trade and processing, and its ambitions are great. Salmon reigns supreme within the seafood range with billion-dollar sales by 2021 and ever-growing demand. The favorable infrastructure and, in addition, a well-stocked business park with all possibilities to have the products processed directly and exported further, offer plenty of opportunities to perpetuate the image of European seafood center.
Changing course, it is a well-known fact in the fishing industry. Continually adjusting operations because of constantly changing conditions, whether it’s regulations imposed from above or changing fishing grounds, it’s “business as usual” for the industry. Urk knows the opportunities and challenges presented by a changing tide. The uncertainty of sanitation does not pass this village either, and many a fisherman has now put the cutter aside. The condition of the (beam trawl) fleet is in stark contrast to the activity in fish trading and processing.
In Urk, the seafood industry is literally “booming,” as evidenced by the billions in sales, more than 50 established companies and just under 5,000 people employed in the industry. Salmon is now “leading,” alongside farmed fish like dorado and sea bass, but also still flatfish from the North Sea and much further afield from the Bering Sea and increasingly squid. The industry has literally moved the beacon in terms of raw materials to the north, where most Atlantic salmon are farmed in Norway and Scotland, among other places.
One example of such a successful Urk company “in salmon,” Visscher Seafood, is thriving. The company is currently finalizing a major expansion of its premises in Urk, has recently acquired the trading operations of a Norwegian salmon farmer and has also taken a stake in a Scottish salmon farm and opened a branch in the United States. Another well-known name in the seafood industry is Kramers’ Seafood. This family business evolved from Gebr. Kramer B.V., Isola Fish B.V., Gebroeders Kramer Coldstore B.V. and Fishmasters B.V. and has recently realized additional production and storage capacity including a freezer cell for 8,800 pallet spaces. The company offers a wide range of fish and seafood products and supplies them to the retail, wholesale, cash-and-carry and institutional market segments.
With all this activity, there is also an increase in employment in the Urk seafood sector. The industry relies largely on the use of migrant workers, but also has many locals as employees. However, developments are not standing still and the fish processing industry faces major changes in the coming years, says Bauke Hoekstra, chairman of Vereniging van Visgroothandelaren Urk. ,,With the sharp increase in the world’s population, the demand for food is also increasing. Wageningen University has calculated that our food system must provide food security for 10 billion people worldwide by 2050. Fish plays an important role in this, along with fish substitutes. Our assortment will have to become broader. In addition, we should
in our sector also pay more attention to the circular economy. Also consider the impact of robotization and digitalization due to the shortage of personnel. All these developments require specialized knowledge and skills. This requires retraining and upskilling of personnel.”
With that in mind, the Urk Fish Wholesalers Association has knocked on the door of MKB !Dee, an initiative from the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate and Social Affairs and Employment to stimulate the development of employees in a particular company, industry or region. The VVU (within which some 40 fish-processing companies are affiliated) received a 120,400 euro subsidy in 2021 to set up Vis Academie Urk, now renamed Urk Seafood Academy.
Together with ROC Friese Poort, a training program has been developed, specifically applied to the entire fish processing industry. Hoekstra: ,,In this way the affiliated SME companies can strengthen each other in the HR field. All current and potential employees can visit an online platform, www.urkseafood.nl, with information about training courses, jobs within the industry and a selection guide. The courses range from specific training to continuing education programs, most of which take place on the job. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a quality boost to the workforce. That starts with the staff, but the next step is that we also want to increase knowledge at the strategic management level.”
To further strengthen Urk Seafood’s image, a complementary campaign is currently being developed to put more of a spotlight on Urk’s uniqueness as a “seafood hub. The campaign targets companies such as wholesalers and retailers from an international perspective.
The unique aspects of Urk Seafood should be brought more into the limelight in the process, agrees Alderman Nathanaël Middelkoop of the Municipality of Urk. Middelkoop worked for the cutter organization VisNed and has now been active for a few years as alderman for Economic Affairs in his hometown. ,,As a municipality, we wholeheartedly support Urk Seafood’s campaign. We see it as an important sector promotion that has a major impact on our local economy. With our well-suited infrastructure, the total assortment we offer in Urk, our expertise in the field of seafood and not forgetting our his- tory within the fishery, we are assured of a unique position worldwide. And because we as a municipality are also investing in the development of our new business park Port of Urk, we are keen to build even further on Urk’s image as a seafood hub.