We live in the New Industrial Age. Manufacturing is undergoing a profound transformation, driven not only by technological (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, IoT) but also societal, market and regulatory developments that have fundamental implications for the workforce competency requirements. How can education and training systems keep pace with this unprecedented change? How does a future-proof curriculum look like?
This topic has been extensively addressed by the Curriculum Guidelines for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) initiative (2017-2019) of the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) and DG GROW of the European Commission. Carried out by PwC, the initiative focuses on the promising ways of organising learning experiences of individuals and groups in the New Industrial Age. The initiative produced the Curriculum Guidelines 4.0 that aim to equip all key stakeholder groups with the knowledge base needed to transform the existing curricula.
The guidelines were developed based on the extensive state-of-play analysis and active stakeholder contribution by means of expert workshops, pan-European online surveys, in-depth interviews and individual expert consultations. All key stakeholder groups were involved in the preparation of the guidelines, including the representatives of education and training providers, industry, policymakers and supporting structures (e.g. industry associations, cluster organisations and trade unions), as well as learners themselves. SEMI was among the key contributors. The guidelines were presented to the public at the EU Conference on Skills for Industry: Curriculum Guidelines 4.0 in Brussels on 26 November, 2019.
The guidelines aim to be applicable for both designing fundamentally new educational offers and/or advancing the existing curricula, depending on the level of required change. They address non-tertiary vocational education and training, higher education and on-the-job training for the manufacturing-related domains.
The guidelines follow a holistic approach covering a broad spectrum of dimensions relevant to curriculum design and implementation, namely:
- Strategy: defining core values, commitments, opportunities, resources and capabilities of an educational/training institution
- Collaboration: promoting practices that move beyond the typical institutional collaboration patterns and engaging individuals and communities
- Content: defining the nature of educational content, including specific principles related to the actual content of the curricula
- Learning environment: creating specific environment during the program, e.g. stimulating multidisciplinary orientation, design thinking, team spirit, collective problem-solving, risk-taking behaviour, experimental approaches
- Delivery mechanisms: establishing means by which learners experience and access education/training; paying special attention to technology-enabled learning
- Assessment: identifying most appropriate forms of assessment, including advantages and disadvantages
- Recognition: exploring appropriate formal and informal ways of recognition
- Quality: identifying the determinants of education & training quality: what makes learners’ and employers’ perception different?
Based on the results of the pan-European survey, the four key elements that require the most substantial change are Strategy, Collaboration, Learning Environment and Content.
The guidelines will be tested in practice in the context of METIS (Microelectronics Training, Industry and Skills), a project recently launched by SEMI and 19 partners from 14 countries. Aligned with the Curriculum Guidelines 4.0, METIS will establish a Microelectronics Observatory and Skills Council consisting of representatives from industry, academia, NGOs, think tanks and government. The consortium will develop a New Skills Strategy for the microelectronics industry in Europe with a focus on raising occupational profiles and skills critical to the future of the sector.
METIS will enable a new industry-driven curriculum with 43 modules integrating online education and work-based learning in microelectronics design and manufacturing. Training will focus on chip design, system design, basic of manufacturing and key competencies. METIS is a Sector Skills Alliance co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program, receiving 4 million EUR funding from the EU.
Preparing students for lifelong learning, offering Big Picture education, creating effective learning ecosystems, applying problem-based and student-centric approaches, shifting from human-robot interactions towards human-machine collaboration – these are just some examples of the curriculum guidelines principles highlighted in the guidelines.
The guidelines aim to offer key highlights, indicate a variety of possibilities and identify sources for more detailed information and inspiration. The guidelines by no means aim to serve as a standardised detailed recipe for organising education and training processes, as there is no one best way to approach it. The diversity of learners’ needs and contexts per definition implies a need for multitude of approaches, which could also be combined in their own unique/customised education and training solutions.
The Curriculum Guidelines 4.0 will be publicly released in January 2020, and will be available on the EU Publications. More information about this and related initiatives can be found at https://skills4industry.eu/.
Dr. Kristina Dervojeda leads the PwC Innovation Research Centre in the Netherlands.