ProjectBackground

Background

The European researches have shown that technological ‘hybridisation’, where electronics and mechanics are joined in the new interdisciplinary field mechatronics, is between the structural drivers of change in the electro-mechanical industry (EU report: New Skills and New Jobs, Skills in Electromechanical Engineering Sector, April 2009). However, a market demand, in the most European countries, exceeds the number of formally educated professionals. As a consequence, the jobs that would call for experts in mechatronics, are often occupied by the experts in the mechanical or electrical engineering, who do not have the appropriate knowledge of mechatronics.

  Another important challenge in the European labour market is the education of adult professionals, especially the older ones, who are employed in those fields with a fast technological progress. Data shows, that the percentage of labour force with a medium qualification level until 2020, can increase for 36 % for the age group 55-59 and even for 62 % for the age group 60-64 (CEDEFOP, Future skills supply in Europe, Medium-term forecast up to 2020). Older workforce will need an additional education to keep up with the increasing demands of their jobs. However, the participation of adults in the education/training has reached the peak in 2005, and slightly decreased to 9.6 % between 2005 and 2008. As a consequence, it seems that the EU 2010 target, of 12.5 % of participation of the adult working force in the education and training, will not be achieved (CEDEFOP as above). This is especially the case in Slovenia, Austria and in Spain, where the participation rate in the job related non-formal education, for age group 55-64, is much below the EU average (49.9 %, 58.3 %, 56.9 % versus the average 70.7 %).

  On the other side, the statistical data (EUROSTAT, Education and training) show that as much as 38 % of EU employers provide a non-formal education to their employees, mostly in the form of in-company training. Such in-company training can therefore be an efficient method to transfer mechatronics knowledge from the educational institution directly to the employed professionals in industry. However, another statistical data reveals some problems. Not all employees participate in the in-company training, even when it is provided. 40 % of non-participants have stated that they did not have time because of family responsibilities and 39 % stated that the training conflicted with their work schedule. Similar situation was also confirmed in the direct interviews with some E-PRAGMATIC network’s members from industry. It was reported in the interviews, that the in-house training is mostly not efficient enough, in relation to the content, the time and the cost/benefit ratio, or simply that such training does not exist at all.

  The modern, distance E-learning methods, where the complete training is executed via internet, can efficiently serve for the training of the professionals from the industry and efficiently solve above described problems. Since such distance training is not time and place dependent, it can be easier to fit them into the schedule of employed professionals. The efficiency of this approach, for employed professionals, was already tested and proven within the MERLAB project (LLP-LdV-TOI-2007-SI-16). Within the project, the professionals from Slovenian industry were educated from basich of mechatronics. Training was offered in the eCampus learning portal and included four learning modules with remote experiments. The training yielded very good results and completely fulfilled all its goals. E-PRAGMATIC will improve and extend this concept to seven European countries.