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Making our Workforce Fit for the Factory of the Future

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FIT4FoF (Making our Workforce Fit for the Factory of the Future)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-03-31

We are facing converging crises:
• Europe faces extreme challenges in addressing future skills needs in Manufacturing;
• Increased introduction of digital technologies into manufacturing is leading to increased automation;
• Current training and educational solutions are discrete and lack interconnections and are largely dissociated from work activities;
• 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.

The Challenges:
• Develop 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;
• Put workers, both women and men, at the forefront of responding to disruption and change with invention and innovation;
• Strengthen the resilience, employability and competitiveness of people as a means of defending and enhancing human capital resources across Europe;
• Drive industry towards rapid, but also equitable and sustainable, transitions to the use of increasingly sophisticated machines and new technologies and, in particular, provide effective solutions to the impact of the COVID19 crisis on this process;
• Support the implementation of new Factories of the Future ‘Blueprints’ that are widely accessible and provide the foundations and conditions for these changes across European industry.

The FIT4FoF Goal is to create novel augmentation solutions that bring innovation and upskilling practices together to empower organisations, workers, and educators to be proactive and agile in adapting to change and to the sustained need to upskill that increased digitization and automation is bringing to society.

The detailed objectives of FIT4FoF are:
• Identify new skills requirements and job profiles
• Develop and pilot a unique yet transferable education and training framework and tools
• Create a paradigm shift that empowers the existing workforce (both women and men) to be co-designers of key lifelong training and education solutions
• Adapt to the changing and new skills requirements that increased digitization and automation will introduce into advanced manufacturing.
1: Analyses trends and detailed ‘picture’ of skills gaps
The initial effort to accumulate data on skills gaps, both current and future along with the direction of the technological trends involved an extensive survey of Industry and Academia using a detailed questionnaire. This formed the initial datasets which were then augmented with data extracted from a review of papers and recruitment repositories [D1.2]. The collection of this data and the analysis of it will continue in the second period of the project. An initial set of 107 job profiles for the six selected technological areas was compiled using a variety of sources including recruitment repositories (in multiple languages) [D1.3]. The set will evolve in the second period and will include the identification of jobs emerging from the pilot programs.

2: Knowledge Exchange on Education & Skills
To compile a catalog of regional skills initiatives the consortium initially supplied details of initiatives within their own regions. Once the website was setup there was the ability to register your initiative on the website. A campaign to gather a broader range of initiatives involved marketing tools such as twitter, linkedin etc plus networking by members at conferences and events. This has resulted in 49 initiatives already registered in the Digital Upskilling Initiatives Catalog [D1.1]. This work will continue to the end of the project. To support policy inputs the consortium has make connections with other skills projects and initiatives.

3: Interdisciplinary Education/Training Framework
CIT and UCN directed work to analyse existing practices in assessing learners plus determining skills requirements of companies and learners prior to engaging in a training program. This included input from all partners based on their experience with training programs. From this work a dataset of tools was compiled [D3.2] which forms the basis of tools to be used during the co-design process in workshops and the pilots. Work then progressed to document an overarching framework, entitled 'FuSion', to enable the project's co-design initiatives, including the drafting of examples of the new co-design processes [D3.3]

4: Modular, reusable educational material
More than 50 sources of training material have to date been compiled by the consortium partners [D4.1] and this will continue to be updated. The draft methodology for co-design of new training programs in conjunction with the learners has been developed and is being applied through a series of pilot initiatives [D4.2].

5: Demonstrate, Validate and Replicate
Work on the upskilling requirements for four initial pilots has been undertaken. This work has used some of the tools and techniques already identified to direct the objectives of the pilots to ensure the needs of the employer, learner and trainer are determined prior to training design. This work is continuing by trialing the co-design and modularization techniques that have been developed

6: Alliance of Communities of Practice
To disseminate and refine the outcomes the project is forming an alliance of communities of practice. The first steps in these were for each partner to identify members of its own communities [D6.1]. CEAGA then devised a dissemination campaign which broadened the awareness of the project, plus all partners conducted information campaigns also [D6.2].
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, model. This novel prototypical model is being applied to enable the following initiatives:

• Develop new foresight methods for advanced manufacturing, including future job profiles, which extend our horizon of knowledge on technology trends and the corresponding impact upon manufacturing processes and upskilling needs;
• Build a unique yet transferable organisational upskilling and augmentation framework, with appropriate new tools and practices, which utilises the foresight process to enhance organisational resilience and maximise the potential for positive innovation;
• Create augmentation programmes that effectively and practically blend the processes of innovation, problem-solving, change management and upskilling;
• Develop and validate the new upskilling solutions, which enable the existing and future workforce (both women and men) to be active co-designers of their workplace and lifelong upskilling and education, with emphasis upon technical, process and transversal skills;
• Build capacity, based upon existing strengths, for the systemic rollout of these new upskilling and augmentation practices in European regions using novel community of practice approaches that sustain multi-stakeholder engagement;