CECIMO participates in the high-level panel at Digital and Key-Enabling Technologies Skills Conference

03 June 2015

CECIMO participated on 1 June in a high-level panel at the Digital and Key-Enabling Technologies Conference organized by the European Commission in Brussels. The panel on the shortage of KETs graduates and workers in Europe and experiences from stakeholders gathered speakers from industry associations representing KETs.
Mr Filip Geerts, Director General at CECIMO represented the view of the European machine tool industry at the panel and stated: “The skills challenge of the sector is not a new issue but the gap between the talent that the industry needs to remain competitive and the talent they can actually find is becoming more pressing, which threatens manufacturers. The forecasts state that the global machine tool consumption will grow from 60 to over 70 billion EUR in the next five years and the metal-based additive manufacturing will quadruple by 2022. To remain competitive, we need to attract and work with the talent who can understand varying customer needs, who can engineer innovative and customized solutions integrated to complex systems of various user industries, and who can be part of multi-cultural and global teams. It is a must to tackle the skills challenge of the advanced manufacturing sector in collaboration with education providers and policy makers at local, national and European levels”.
CECIMO recognizes two main problems which trigger the sector’s skills gap: the old-fashioned image of the industry and the lack of operational skills that are not always delivered at schools but needed at work. To overcome these bottlenecks, the European machine tool sector needs to show students from early school years and different backgrounds that thanks to high-tech equipment and infrastructure, integrated ICT solutions, automation systems and emerging technologies like additive manufacturing, low-skilled occupations and jobs requiring physical work at European factories are disappearing, which leaves the floor only to the talent with the sophisticated knowledge and skills-set needed.  It is also essential to develop an education system which promotes work-based learning as in advanced manufacturing, learning seems to occur best under real-life conditions and many of the skills needed to develop solutions can be gained only at work.  The business setting, therefore, should be the main pillar of learning.
The European machine tool industry’s competitiveness relies on high-quality, customized and innovative products and services generated by its skilled and adaptable workforce. Europe is the world leader in the global machine tool production with a 39% share and it is imperative for the industry to have its skills needs are urgently met.
The Digital and KETs Skills Conference is organized in the context of two initiatives of the European commission, namely KETs skills and e-leadership initiatives. The KETs skills initiative, launched in January 2014, focuses on the needs of employers with regard to KETs skills and the ways to best satisfy those needs. The initiative builds on the European strategy for KETs and the work of the High Level Group on KETs and their recommendations on skills.