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Making our Workforce Fit for the Factory of the Future

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FIT4FoF (Making our Workforce Fit for the Factory of the Future)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-12-31

Europe faces extreme challenges in addressing future skills needs in Manufacturing. Increased introduction of digital technologies into manufacturing is leading to more automation and current upskilling solutions are largely dissociated from work activities and the worker. Growing gaps in knowledge and know-how make it increasingly challenging to adapt, work proactively and contribute to innovation; the COVID 19 Pandemic has enforced disruptive and persistent changes that are greatly increasing these struggles.

There is urgent need to deliver breakthrough upskilling paradigms for continuous training and development of the active and available workforce, with emphasis upon solutions that are highly integrated with workplace activities. This must put workers, both women and men, at the forefront of responding to disruption and change with invention and innovation. This must strengthen the resilience, employability, and competitiveness of people as a means of defending and enhancing human capital resources across Europe.

The FIT4FoF project involved nine partners from eight countries, addressing six technological areas: Robotics, Additive Manufacturing, Mechatronics and Machine Automation, Big Data and Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and Human-Machine Interface (HMI).

The central objective of the FIT4FoF project was to identify new skills requirements and job profiles, and to develop and pilot a unique yet transferable education and training framework to respond to those needs. We have achieved these goals by developing and trialing a novel educational design methodology within seven pilots across Europe, which ensures the voice of the learner is enhanced in the co-design process. We also provide a collected cache of job profiles and training programs, and a mapping tool built on this data which helps identify the skills required for specific roles.
FIT4FoF has developed and validated a new educational and training framework for advanced manufacturing, placing the worker at the center of the co-design process for the first time. We have created Communities of Practice to support the upskilling process and developed an education framework, which these communities piloted in real world environments. The pilots performed across a diverse range of industrial sectors, level of worker and cultures. The COVID-19 pandemic required the educational framework to be modified to support execution in an online environment which has proven to be a successful evolution of the framework.

The FIT4FoF approach yielded the following results:

Analyses trends and detailed ‘picture’ of skills gaps: 117 new job profiles were identified and characterized through an exhaustive literature review and analysis of recruitment repositories. As part of this work, a new web tool, the Upskilling Analysis Tool, was developed to support the automatic analysis of the upskilling needs, taking advantage of correlating the identified job profiles to the technological trends, skills, and training programs. This enabled an automated matching of trends, skills and job profiles thus allowing companies to identify upskilling needs based on these future trends.

Knowledge Exchange on Education & Skills: FIT4FoF compiled a catalogue of regional skills initiatives, resulting in over 50 initiatives registered in its Digital Upskilling Initiatives Catalogue. FIT4FoF partners held three comprehensive knowledge exchange workshops, as well as up joint and standalone Knowledge Transfer Events with engaged collaborators and many participants between July and November 2021

Interdisciplinary Education/Training Framework: FIT4FoF analyzed existing practices in assessing learners plus determining skills requirements of companies and learners prior to engaging in a training program. From this work a framework was developed, and a dataset of tools was compiled, which formed the basis for the approaches used during the co-design process in workshops and in the pilots.

Modular, reusable educational material: More than 50 sets of training material were compiled from the consortium partners. From this the ICoED (Industrial Collaborative Educational Design) co-design model was built, the main elements in the ICoED co-design approach were developed; a learner-oriented design approach and a definition of its relevant stakeholders. This process was used in 42 workshops with the 4 pilot partners and the 3 replication pilot partners to create the seven co-designed educational blueprints that were foundation for the pilots.

Demonstrate, Validate and Replicate FIT4FoF successfully completed a total of seven industry and replication pilots through the complete cycle from foresight to training execution and implementation, building upon the co-designed blueprint. Data collected from the partner pilots indicated the approach is very adaptable and accessible to all parties regardless of the roles they play in the process. The inclusion of the worker in the process gave them more control over their own training tasks and an influence on the larger upskilling roadmap.

Alliance of Communities of Practice: FIT4FoF formed an alliance of communities of practice across the consortium and build mechanisms to connect this to other existing networks, including the Skillman sector skills alliance. The partners undertook knowledge exchange and knowledge transfer workshops to mature these communities, using a dissemination campaign which broadened the awareness across larger Europe networks.
FIT4FoF focused on engaging workers in the design of upskilling programmes for the manufacturing sector. The partners identified a catalogue of 117 emerging new job profiles, developed a repository of existing upskilling initiatives and captured this within a novel Upskilling Analysis Tool to support the rapid analysis of the upskilling needs. To answer these needs, FIT4FoF places workers at the center of a collaborative process using co-design, enabled by the ICoED method, which changes the dynamic between employers and educators in a manner enables the voice of the employee/learner to be amplified.

The approach was successfully evaluated in many workshops in the FIT4FoF pilot applications and received considerable positive feedback from both companies, employees, and educators. “Train-the-trainer” initiatives applied through the pilots demonstrated that the ICoED Process and educational approach are transferable, and the project’s ‘Scenarios on the Future of Work’ provide accessible pathways for new workers to understand and engage in these processes; both provide strong indicators that the outputs of the FIT4FoF project are widely re-usable.

As an easy-to-use process, it becomes possible for companies, clusters, and other stakeholders to design and execute their own upskilling programs using the project toolkit to adapt for industrial context, language, culture and needs. Work by FIT4FoF to link the learning programmes to formal academic credits on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) further ensures that the learning is transferable and provides opportunities for progression. To bring together the trend’s analyses process, the educational framework and learner co-design the FIT4FoF has created the ‘Future Skills Innovation', or FUSION, package to incorporate the full suite of tools built by the project.
Consortium in Action
FIT4FoF Flyer - Back
FIT4FoF Flyer - Front