Working Group on Digital Skills: Upskilling and Reskilling in the manufacturing sectormportales
The third session of the I4MS working group (WG) dedicated to skills was focused on the upskilling and reskilling in the manufacturing sector for the adoption of new digital technologies. Five speakers were invited to present best practices in ongoing initiatives, as well as their recommendations for actions:
- Silvia Fareri, from Erre Quadro, representing the IA KITT4SME
- Paula Cervera and César Toscano, from Mobile World Capital Barcelona and INESC TEC, respectively, representing the IA Better Factory
- Tobias Hüsing, Senior Research Consultant in Empirica
- Inese Podgaiska, Secretary General Association of Nordic Engineers Denmark
European Project Coordinator at Mobile World Capital Barcelona, Marta Portalés, moderated the session.
The European industry is facing a changing, demanding and highly competitive context, in which the introduction of digital technologies is the only possible way for manufacturing SMEs to survive. Not only will it be necessary to work on the processes upgrading and optimization, but also to have personnel prepared to handle the most disruptive tools.
I4MS is focused mainly on four technologies, including (1) smart modelling, simulation and optimization for digital twins; (2) Cognitive, autonomous systems and human-robot interaction; (3) Innovative Artificial Intelligence; and (4) Laser-based Additive Manufacturing. For each of them, the initiative offers a full package of services including trainings and working groups, to ease the skills adoption in the industry.
“Our vision is to assess the skills gap to support skill learning in the
Silvia Fareri presented her experience in KITT4SME Innovation Action, which aim is to make SMEs interact in a friction-less way with the integration of technologies.
The new developed Worker Profiler is capable of assessing the skill gap of a single worker and define ad-hoc up-skilling and re-skilling training programs.
“While up-skilling refers to elevating existing skill to the next
proficiency level, re-skilling means learning new skills to perform a
The Worker Profile was developed following two steps. The first one consisted of detecting the key job profiles (relevant archetypes) required by the digital revolution and creating an archetype database with the job scope of the profile, associated skills, tasks to be performed, etc. The second step was the development of a questionnaire for the detection of the skills gap between the current skills of the worker and the required skills to be aligned with the digital requirements.
An assessment of the technical and soft skills Will be provided. The tool also allows at making an objective comparison between what a worker is able to do and what the standards of competences required for the same position.
“Our objective in Better Factory is to remove the obstacles that are
holding back the SMEs from adopting cyber-physical and
collaborative robots’ technologies to maximize the agility of their
Paula Cervera exposed the experience of Mobile World Capital Barcelona as Skills development leaders in Better Factory innovation action. Since the beginning of the project, the team has been working on preparing webinars and documentation, to give the SMEs, technical providers and artists of project’s showcases, support in different areas: the project itself, RAMP marketplaces, APPS modules and Agile Manufacturing.
Once the first package of training was ready, the next steps consisted of working together with the SMEs to understand their skills needs, and asking them for feedback of the existing contents. This was done through the preparation of a Survey and the organization of a dynamic Focus Group to answer all the questions using an interactive tool.
“Re-skilling or up-skilling of shop floor operators is not only about
acquiring the know-how, but to try to these operators to gain new
insights on the potential application of the technologies”.
Cesar Toscano explained that when introducing new technology in a manufacturing SME, the key success factors are:
- The willingness and motivation of the top administration.
- A preliminary maturity assessment analysis on the SME
- An action plan with clearly defined goals.
- The involvement of the shop floor operators and counting on the support of a technology provider.
The Advanced Plant Model module was presented as case study. The module aims to manage a near real-time digital representation of the ongoing state of a given manufacturing area. To manage its usage, there have been defined three levels involving different complexities. The project developed a comprehensive package of training embedded in the software, and a set of practical instructions was included to guide and support users.
“In case everything went smooth, up-skilling and re-skilling should be
as a default, especially for new business processes.”
Tobias Hüsing talked about Empirica’s study for DG GROW/EISMEA 2019-2021, made in collaboration with ISSIP and PwC Lux. The three main scenarios in the European support to up-skilling and re-skilling were presented and the resulting recommendations for actions were exposed for four areas: political leverage, demand side, matching and supply side.
“One of the recommendations is to have sectorial skills ontologies to
feed into ESCO. This is already working, but it is a good approach
that should be further developed.”
“There is a need for extra skills, but it is a paradox that nobody says
what precisely skills are needed.”
Inese Podgaiska pointed out the importance of considering competences in the political guidelines, as all professional categories should have access to life-long training opportunities, and not only the low-skilled workforce.
“If we look at the technical skills package need, we have to look at
circular product design strategies, because 80% of the
environmental impact of products is already determined in the design
Regarding their recommendations, strong focused should be put on skills and competences in national Circular Economy policies. In terms of education, Circular Economy Competencies should be included in all degree programmes, whereas on the employer’s side, competences development possibilities should be included when negotiating employment contracts.
“Upskilling and reskilling as key to not being left behind.”
The second part of the session was dedicated to interactively discuss, using a mural board, about the criticality of up-skilling and re-skilling, active policies and initiatives and related risks.