On 29 January 2024, the European Commission and Cedefop organised a “Peer-learning activity on microcredentials for the labour market – A sectoral approach: manufacturing and retail” counting with the participation of the LCAMP project officer, Íñigo Araiztegui (TKNIKA). The event took place in the framework of the European Year of Skills that will come to an end on 08 May 2024.
The webinar was opened by Chiara Riondino, Head of Unit – Vocational Education and Training, EMPL.B.3, European Commission and Loukas Zahilas, Head of Department for VET and qualifications, Cedefop. Ms Riondino stressed the importance of “skills” in the European Commission agenda. She emphasized the important contribution that micro-credentials can have to reach the European Social Pillar Rights target of increasing participation in training to 60% per ear for “all adults” in 2030. Though the main barriers to accessing education for them are money, motivation, time or finding the relevant target, micro-credentials are offering a solution as are more accessible.
In the fast-changing labour market, especially in sectors such as Advanced Manufacturing or Retail sectors, micro-credentials represent an opportunity to upgrade and update the workforce skills.
Isabel Ladrón Arroyo, Policy officer, Vocational Education and Training, EMPL.B.3, European Commission, explained that since the approval of the Microcredentials Council Recommendation (2022) a definition of what the micro-credentials was introduced, facilitating to obtain comparable data across Europe, such as the ones presented by Cedefop.
Anastasia Pouliou, Expert, Department for VET and qualifications, Cedefop, gave an overview of the European Agency’s research on microcredentials and the manufacturing and retail sectors. Recently they have published a new briefing note on Microcredentials: striving to combine credibility and agility. According to their data, Micro-credentials are flourishing, in particular in sectors that need to be upskilling and reskilling the workforce, such as Advanced Manufacturing or the Retail sectors. Cedefop provides details in their research about the different changes within the sector that are related to the new production technologies, new materials, or the challenges that Industry 4.0 or 5.0 bring for training.
In general, Microcredentials have proven to have a lot of benefits but the problem comes with non-regulate micro-credentials offers. Cedefop mapping exercise supports the ongoing debate to understand better the situation and to understand that VET needs to be possible to give skills to people to cope with the transition that is currently existing.
In the panel discussion focused on the manufacturing sector, Íñigo Araiztegui (TKNIKA), joined the discussion by introducing the findings of the LCAMP Skills and Jobs Observatory (WP3 led by Mécanic Valle and CMQE). The Observatory aims to provide up-to-date and user-friendly information on the current skills trends, gaps and skills prediction in Advanced Manufacturing. Mr Araiztegui explained that LCAMP will use the Skills and Jobs Observatory results to later support building training courses. In an initial work of the Observatory, the general issues identified are:
- In the new technological era, “human skills” will have more than ever a central role, however, this is not reflected in the job offers
- It is not always feasible or effective to assign execution of production tasks to autonomous systems
- The task distribution between humans and AI is changing.
- The situation varies a lot from one company to another
- No big changes in job profiles
- Employment is high
Mr Araiztegui added that flexibility has been identified as a key need for future training solutions, which coincide with the spirit of the Micro-credentials.