NEW METRO is an ERASMUS+ project which is aimed at defining and supporting the development of skilled resources for advanced manufacturing processes across Europe. The project particularly focuses on training, curricula and emerging skills within the mechatronic sector. The mechatronics branch combines a wide variety of different areas, such as electrical engineering, electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics, sensor technology and computer science and automation. Moreover, it has been identified as one of the structural drivers of change in the Industry 4.0 (meaning the currently ongoing “Fourth Industrial Revolution” encompassing the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices) and Key Enabling Technologies (KETs).
The NEW METRO project has identified key challenges in these processes and has decided to focus specifically on supporting learning and teaching institutions with adapting their curricula to the fast-paced changes currently on-going in our KET industry and additionally raising awareness of these changes across the industry and regulatory bodies. This is essential as mechatronics is currently the fastest growing area of science and will without doubt gain in importance over the coming years.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of competences due to the complex and fast-changing skills required within the industry which prevent mechatronics workers from being employed despite a stark increase in demand for KET skilled workers across the EU. KETs also have a significant potential to create new jobs at various occupational levels with all kind of levels of education (from a doctoral researcher to specialists with secondary, post-secondary and non-university tertiary education). The NEW METRO project is trying to establish an EU-wide alignment of the skills needed in the KET industry with the existing educational programmes, as well as encouraging and supporting adult learning and regular training of already existing employees. This will be done through the establishment of an EU-wide shared competence framework with related assessment and certification methods and through the establishment of an European Learning delivery model.
The project will also contribute to the implementation of the Skills Agenda for Europe (2016), particularly to the goal to Make Vocational Education and Training (VET) a first choice by enhancing opportunities for VET learners to undertake work-based learning experiences (WBL).
NEW METRO is further hoping to achieve better employability for both young people and adult learners, while at the same time improving the working and teaching experience of those teachers and professionals teaching them through increased collaboration at the regional, national and European level. Furthermore, the project will provide increased support for companies and associations of companies with expanded awareness of potential strategies for Industry 4.0 and KETs. Finally, the NEW METRO project will collaborate with local, national and European policy and decision makers in the education and training sector increase dialogue and awareness of the above introduced issues around KETs and Industry 4.0 and to establish a comprehensive and shared competence framework.
Overall, it will thus not only improve the situation in the mechatronics industry for students, educators, as well as professionals and industry representatives, but also encourage trans-national cooperation across Europe and beyond. It will help create and preserve jobs in a growing industry and will ensure Europe’s economic future and prosperity.