In Hungary, the aquaculture sector is characterised by two main segments: pond fish farming and intensive (precision) fish production. The Hungarian aquaculture sector employs 1,462 permanent workers, of whom 645 have primary education, 598 have secondary education and 219 have tertiary education (AKI, 2022). During peak periods, casual workers help to carry out the tasks, worked 22,254 days in the sector (AKI, 2022).
Over the last 20 years, the aquaculture sector has evolved significantly: changes in methods, procedures, and technologies have created major challenges for workers and employers alike. In addition to this technological development, the working environment has also changed, but in this area, thanks to the close-to-nature production, it is only possible to improve working conditions in small steps. It is partly these factors that fundamentally determine a young person’s career orientation and choice.
It is a sad fact that marine and freshwater aquaculture and fisheries, like other segments of agriculture, find it difficult to compete with the job opportunities and working conditions offered by other sectors of agriculture . In addition, the steadily increasing demand for aquaculture products requires enterprises in the sector to meet market needs by producing products tailored to consumer demands , but this requires skilled workers at all levels. However, it is important for companies to be able to define their expectations towards workers, which fundamentally determine the quality and depth of training they need (Padrós et al., 2023).
Basic training has disappeared from the palette of the Hungarian aquaculture sector’s professional training for 5 years. The physical work is mainly done by semi-skilled workers who have little technical knowledge of the sector’s work processes. The development of a National Aquaculture Training Strategy is a sectoral need, one of the first steps of which is to define the possibilities offered by different levels of education.
The basis for the supply of professionals at the secondary and tertiary level is the training in natural sciences and biology in secondary schools, which, integrated into the national educational framework, provides knowledge to students with this interest. The framework includes a so-called ’faculty’, which provides students with an increased number of hours of study and learning in this area of science.
Materials and methods
A questionnaire survey was carried out to investigate the attitudes of teachers and the available infrastructure towards aquaculture in secondary schools (mainly high schools) with faculties offering natural science and biology courses.
It can be concluded that the teachers working in these institutions responded positively to the sector’s inquiry and were willing to fill out the questionnaire in a higher proportion than expected . However, it can also be said that the rigid system of education provides few opportunities to broaden knowledge of a particular agricultural sector, in this case aquaculture. On the other hand, there was a strong demand for practical training courses and study trips, and this is an area where the sector has the greatest potential for improvement.
The questionnaire also confirmed the earlier finding that one of the breakout and development areas of the Hungarian aquaculture sector is education and the development of the teaching methodology (Urbányi et al., 2023).
The work is supported by the iFishIENCi project (European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 818036).
Institute of Agricultural Economics Nonprofit Kft.-AKI (2022). Agricultural Statistical Information System.
Padrós, F., Constenla, M. , Gustinelli, A. Bonaldo, A. & Fioravanti, M. (2023 ). Better Education for Better professionals for European Aquaculture – Views from the Workshop on Education in Aquaculture. Aquaculture Europe, Vol. 48.(1) March, pp. 42-44.
Urbányi, B., Bokor, Z., Kobolák, J., Bozánné-Békefi, E., Lengyel, Sz., Tarnai-Király, Zs., Rákóczi, K. & Fekete, R. (2023). Innovation in Hungarian Aquaculture. Review on Agriculture and Rural Development 2023 vol. 12 (1-2), in press.