A 2014 survey of business leaders in Germany highlighted areas where they believed support was needed for Industry 4.0. One of the top concerns was the education and training of qualified personnel.
WELD4.0's main innovation is the inclusion of novel ICT technologies and VET training methods to an existing professional profile in the manufacturing industry, the European Welder, working in the context of Industry 4.0, that will address an actual market need in terms of qualified personnel. This is a key market need to address the current skills shortages and gaps that affect EU's manufacturing sector.
In order to ensure that the project results achieve the defined objectives WELD4.0 will be based on the innovative application of previous projects in VET by the consortium partners, in order to re-design an existing Qualification Profile and develop a new training approach using Game Based Learning and Serious Gaming.
The European manufacturing industry is experiencing a new industrial revolution, considered to be the fourth; this leap forward is being called Industry 4.0. The ubiquitous use of sensors together with the expansion of wireless communication and networks, along with the deployment of increasingly intelligent robots and machines, has the potential to transform the way manufacturing is done in Europe. Such a digital industrial revolution holds the promise of increased flexibility in manufacturing, mass customisation, increased speed, better quality and improved productivity.
However, to capture these benefits, enterprises will need to invest in equipment, information and communication technologies (ICTs) and data analysis as well as the integration of data flows throughout the global value chain. Moreover, employees now face the need to fully embrace training for digital skills. Consequently, it is essential for VET to be updated.
Besides the strong use of ICT and automation, manual processes, such as welding, still play a large role in the manufacturing industry. Welders represent a traditional branch with almost no ICT training being implemented. The common approach is classroom face-to-face theoretical training and applied shopfloor welding. Such opposition towards modernisation and new technologies requires a clearly stated concept that builds upon real challenges and working processes. To strive in today's digital world, meeting handling the changes in the workspace, trained welders must increase their IT knowledge.