Although "Industry 4.0" is already a reality in some companies, the consequences of the actual development of linkage and digitalization are still vague. All studies concerning the future development of Industry 4.0 (the term includes the productive and non-productive sectors, i.e. so-called "Internet of Things" and "Internet of Services") state a fundamental change of tasks and requirements in the working world.
This leads to changing requirements for the VET training sector, too. On the basis of the existing studies regarding the changes in working world 4.0 the necessary competences for future workers as well as for their teachers in the sectors mechatronics and electronics have been identified more precisely in an empirical study with representatives from companies and VET teachers from different European countries. A comparative analysis about the needs in the different partner countries led to a synthesis of common requirements which built the basis for the development of learning modules for learners and teachers alike.
A target-performance comparison was the basis for profiling the necessary future competences and the development of a catalogue of requirements for future-oriented learning and teaching. The competence profile can help to classify existing competences of individual teachers in comparison to targeted competences for the future. They are subsumed in matrixes for VET learners and teachers and trainers.
1. Literature review by analyzing the literature focused on the competence requirements posed by the 4th industrial revolution and the responses of the VET providers to these requirements (articles, book chapters etc.). One of the outcomes of the literature review is the list of competence requirements for the VET teachers and trainers.
2. Empirical study: Qualitative research of two stages
1st stage: Executing interviews and focus groups with the representatives of selected enterprises that face the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution. There have been interviewed up to 10 companies in each project country by taking interviews from two representatives (the 1st from the engineering staff and the 2nd from the human resource department - if available). The goal of this study was to "update" and verify the list of competence requirements for the VET students and therewith indirectly for the VET teachers and trainers.
2nd stage: Interviewing representatives of the VET schools and trainers involved in apprenticeship. There have been interviewed representatives of 5-10 advanced VET schools from the selected fields/sectors per country. The goal of this study was to "update" and verify the list of competence requirements for the VET teachers and trainers
1. Competence Matrix for Teachers and Trainers
Our teaching modules are based on the 4.0-competence-requirements for VET teachers and trainers who are teaching in the field of electronics and mechatronics.
Key result of our empirical study in the field of teaching is a competence matrix which covers all digital key competences for VET teachers. Those key competences are assigned to the core working fields for teaching in the vertical axis and in the horizontal axis to digital key competence areas.
The latter complement skills and abilities for teaching by including media competences, application know-how and basic ICT know-how and skills. Of course
they differ between professions. Although we focus on the electronic and mechatronic sector our matrix can also be used for other technical professions, because the horizontal axis implies the societal, the application and the technological perspective.
On the vertical axis, we focus on the above mentioned core working fields. By analyzing the implications of the 4th industrial revolution (focus of our empirical study) to the process of the vocational education and training, there can be outlined different implications to the curriculum design, the organization of the training process, the didactics of training and the competence assessment (see 4th Industrial Revolution Report).
So the VET the 4.0 competence matrix for teaching can be the starting point to optimize the individual teaching or even be used for controlling school development processes (like conceptual media development processes in all VET institutions).
2. Competence Matrix for Students
The competence Matrix for VET students is related to changing competence requirements with a focus on electronics and mechatronics. In the vertical axis the supplementary competences for working with cyber-physical systems and process chains are specified. They are an important part of working world 4.0 in the fields focused on, but moreover they are relevant for many professions in the industrial and craft sector.
In the horizontal axis the competence change areas are listed which are oriented at concrete working processes.
The matrix is applicable to analyze existing and lacking competences and herewith to derive further learning requirements.
The design and the results of the empirical study are presented in detail in the VET 4.0 Research Report
Click here to view the VET 4.0 Research Report.
The training modules for VET students are supposed to be components for successfully coping with the challenges of the working world 4.0. They are exemplary for different tasks and transferable into several sectors, and they cover the needs of all partner countries involved. The modules are freely available and a further development is possible. A broad external use is intended. The concrete content is connected to the results of the competences analysis.
The modules for VET students in the fields of mechatronics, electronics and plastics technology have been developed in different working groups with European expert teachers. They are different in volume, focus and size and want to be examples for future-oriented learning in the working world 4.0.
The modules cover these topics:
1. Internet of Things – Plant Irrigation
2. Internet of Things – The Intelligent LED-Sign
3. Intelligent House 4.0 - Smart Light Control
4. Smart and Keen Company - My Trolley Chip
5. Digital Factory for Individualized Mass Products
All modules combine classroom and workplace learning with online learning. Due to the limited resources within the project, they can be implemented without expensive equipment and infrastructure as it is available in good equipped 4.0 factories. So they offer the possibility to become familiar with elements of 4.0 learning also for those students who do not have a privileged access to 4.0 factories.
1. Choice of important competences necessary for the working world 4.0 according to the required competence profile.
2. Constituting working groups which work out the modules in detail, i.e. concrete assignment of tasks, choice of adequate methods, preparation of the input materials, etc.
3. Developing the modules in different working groups with members of different countries.
4. Discussing the drafts of the modules in country-specific advisory boards with experts and stakeholders.
5. Testing the modules with students.
6. Evaluating and revising the modules.
7. Publishing the modules.
Click here to check out the learning requirements.
Click here to view the document containing the VET 4.0 Learning Modules Requirements.
Based on the competence matrices for students and teachers, five training modules for VET teachers and in-company trainers in the fields of mechatronics and electronics have been developed. They consider the challenges of the working world 4.0 and are closely linked to the training modules for VET students.
Neither most of VET teachers nor trainers especially in SMEs are aware of the changes caused by total digitalization and interconnectedness. Moreover, in many VET colleges - at least in Germany - the ordinary facilities are far from the requirements of a future-oriented working world. Raising awareness of training staff thus is a first important challenge. IT and media competence, application know-how, project and process management and working in an international team are further tasks for the teachers and trainers which can be improved by the other modules.
The competence matrix for teachers which has been developed in IO 1 covers a broad spectrum and will support teachers and trainers to analyze and to improve their own 4.0 competence profile.
a) A general module which gives an introduction into actual industrial 4.0 processes on the one hand and possible consequences for a society as a whole on the other hand. At the same time it invites the users to autonomous and self-organized learning – as it is expected from the VET students, too.
b) Four modules which are closely related to the students modules. They focus on how to develop new modules and how to professionally guide the students who are working on the modules. The effective use of blended learning is one of the important topics. Blended learning requires new evaluation and assessment tools and examples from the students' modules can provide a first access which will have to be further developed.
All modules require from the trainees that after passing them they will be able to create new modules for their specific learning groups.
The concrete tasks and the processing are similar to the ones for the development of the students' training modules. But whereas the modules for VET students focus more on concrete, exemplary modules for tasks in a digitized working world, the ones for the teaching and training staff focus more on a meta-level with a didactical perspective. Mentoring VET students for the work with OER, cooperating internationally on e-learning platforms and being able to decide on the right mix for blended learning between e-learning and classroom learning are new tasks, applying suitable assessment methods, too. These are the training objectives of the teachers’ and trainers’ modules.