Project budget3 760 208 €
ERDF amount2 256 125 €
Unemployment rates of low-skilled people (level 1-2 in the EU Qualification Framework) in the 2 Seas region remain high, while there is a continuously growing number of operational job openings amongst others in the manufacturing sector. A study of DG Employment and Social Affairs (2015) mentions that a common cause is skills mismatch, either because there are not enough jobseekers with the necessary skills to fill open vacancies or because job requirements by employers do not fit with the competences of jobseekers. This study advises EU members to train the (un)employed. However, learnercentred training is underused in the manufacturing industry, training doesn’t account for barriers to learning experienced by low-skilled people (LSP) and fails to provide solutions to overcome these challenges (Nielson, 2011). Therefore vocational training services for the manufacturing sector in the 2 Seas Region need modernisation by combining expertise of work and education (Marope et al., 2015).
BHC21 aims to contribute to the development of more efficient and effective vocational training services for low-skilled people (LSP) applicable in the 2 Seas region. To do so, the project will develop a generic 21st-century training model which (a) makes use of innovative learning technologies (ILTs) and accompanying instructional design, tailored for easy adoption by Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and (b) integrates new recruitment and training approaches to increase the success rate of the training. The model will be developed bottom-up, through a process of co-creation in which employers, LSP, (public) vocational training organisations, knowledge institutes and public employment services are involved. By boosting the learning motivation, skills and career competences of LSP and stimulating a culture change among (manufacturing) SMEs regarding the investment in training of LSP, BHC21 wants to contribute to a reduction of unemployment rates amongst LSP in the 2 Seas area.
The main outputs are pilots for real-life testing of the outcomes of two series of tests to integrate ILTs and modern pedagogical approaches in vocational training for LSP for the manufacturing industry. Aided by innovative recruitment methods, these pilots will help to identify and mitigate learning barriers and enhance understanding of the potential of ILTs and pedagogical approaches. Public employment services, LSP and companies suffering skills shortages will all benefit. A new training model, including the training of work floor coaches, will be jointly developed, tested, validated & evaluated.
The final output is a feasibility report based on the pilots, demonstrating the economic and sustainable viability of the BHC21 training model. Improved quality of training (from a learner’s perspective: increased motivation, less stress, high perceived usefulness) helps SMEs to find/retain qualified personnel and helps LSP to establish sustainable careers.
Cross border approach
Cross-border cooperation enables development and testing of a versatile training model that can be easily adopted in any vocational training context in the 2 Seas region, regardless of the national legal or educational framework. Working crossborder, but with a joint focus on SMEs in the manufacturing industry, allows to take into account any local factors that may affect the rolling-out of the model. This is particularly appropriate as many manufacturing companies in the 2 Seas region are part of cross-border value chains. An increase of their employees’ skills also increases the global
competitiveness of these value chains. The project partners bring in their expertise and provide access to complementary technological, pedagogical or organisational knowledge from their region. From this pool of expertise, knowledge exchange captures test/pilot results from each region and incorporates them into a new training model. A common methodology guarantees the comparability of the results.
For WP1 local co-creation sessions have been held in the spring months. In France, the partners have organized a second successful session for the LSP (the first one took place already in 2019), with the collaboration of external stakeholders. Also the Flemish partners have experienced a positive collaboration with the observing partner VFU. This way, existing tools of VFU have been customized and implemented in the pre-training. In UK, a first cohort of LSP has attended the programme. Tavistock has elaborated an extensive training/coaching programme. The program in UK was interrupted in March and restarted again in August. However, a positive thing is that Tavistock was able to run an evaluation of the group relation method. After running the local co-creation sessions, the 3 regions have held several cross-border focus meetings to clarify and make agreements around the common framework? Based on this a draft version 1.0 of Chapter 1 has been elaborated. Despite the Covid restrictions, the partners from UK and Flanders have been able to run the tests (Output 1,2, and 3 for WP1), back-to-back with the vocational training though with far less trainees than originally planned. The French partners have also made all the preparations to run the pre-training but due to the combination with activities from WP2 (which are not yet ready), they have postponed this for 2021.
For WP2 the partners have made preparations for the purchase/development of ILT’s ans in some cases, also run the tests. In collaboration with an external partner, VDAB has developed a state-of-the art VR-application. In addition to this, an instruction video and on-line course have been developed. The tools have been tested twice (Output 1, 2). Also the partners in UK have offered 2 training programs (Output 3 and 4) with the VR-welding installation, an instruction video and an online assessment tool. The French partners have a clear idea about the tools they want to work with and make the last preparations for their development. They will run the tests in 2021. Based on the input of all regions, the Flemish partners have worked intensively on the decision tree. This is conceptually ready bus still needs some more finetuning before launching it to the companies.
At this point of time, preparations are being made in all regions for the start of the pilots.