Industry associations across Europe’s advanced manufacturing base speak with one voice about skills policy

19 October 2016

CECIMO, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries, prepared a Memorandum of Understanding on priorities for skills’ policy in advanced manufacturing. This memorandum was conceptually endorsed not only by the European machine tools industries, but also by the European industries of material handling and construction equipment, respectively represented by FEM and CECE.
The Memorandum was developed in the frame of the recently concluded Opens external link in new windowNAMA project, an EU-funded initiative that intended to raise the advance manufacturing workforce’s level of numeracy skills. CECIMO was partner in the project alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) of Sheffield University and education centres, VET institutes and ICT tools’ developers. The Memorandum focuses on key needs to maintain Europe’s established know-how in advanced manufacturing, at a time when digitisation and new production technologies make inroads in traditional industrial processes. Several policies are presented in the document as effective tools to deal with issues such as the risk of a shortage in so-called STEM skills, and outdated VET programmes on manufacturing. Attention is drawn to the increasing importance of equipping workers in the industry with strong numeracy skills, regarded both as a proxy to ICT competences and as a tool to support the uptake of new production technologies. The prominent measures presented refer to the development of industry-education partnerships to identify specific skills gap rapidly, the intensification of campaigns promoting the attractiveness of studying STEM subjects, and the continued support of EU funding in gathering together experts to analyze trends in competences. The role of actors at EU level is also emphasized with reference to VET. To this end, CECIMO, FEM and CECE, which together account for a turnover of about 168 bn EUR and employ roughly 440.000 people, endorsed the relevance of policy instruments at disposal of EU policy-makers to ensure a steep increase in the availability of substantial vocational skills all over Europe.
Alongside the skills issues and measures illustrated, the document addresses the specific results and outputs of the NAMA projects. It highlights the contribution that digital learning materials produced in the project, such as mobile apps and a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), can have to raise the numeracy competences of workers in industry.
In addition to European associations of advanced manufacturers, the Memorandum gathered the support of VET institutes, research centres, local development agencies and sectoral industry associations at national level. The European Basic Skills Network (EBSN), one of the largest outfits representing stakeholders in the field of basic skills, including national governmental departments, endorsed the document too.
EBSN published on the European Commission’s basic skills portal a blog post on the evolving skills’ needs in the machine tool sector and the NAMA’s Memorandum of Understanding on numeracy competences in advanced manufacturing. Click Opens external link in new windowhere to visit the blog post, and here the Opens external link in new windowMemorandum.