With a acronym Skilled-Up, the project is still ongoing but soon approaching the finish line. With a duration of 36 months, it started on 1st November 2018 and will end on 31st October this year. The intention of this project is to bring Germans work-based learning experiences to the Baltics.
The main objectives of this project are to strengthen cooperation between VET-institutions and industry representatives, improve the competitiveness and quality of VET institutions, improve skills and provide strategy/instruments for the wood processing sector, foster economic development and innovation of wood processing sector by preparing specialists corresponding to labour market needs and get closer to an understanding that digital technologies, mobility and waste-free production are the basis for change.
The aim of the project is to develop and test a work-based learning programme for wood processing sector in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The expected results of this project include vocational training programme for the wood processing sector in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which is developed corresponding to EQAVET indicators for EQF level 5 VET, guidelines for developing the work-based learning training program and applying EQAVET indicators, and long-term cooperation between the Baltic States and Germany in the field of work-based learning.
“Skilled-Up” is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and has many partners. One of the leading partners of this project is German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. Other partners include Latvian Association of Woodprocessing Entrepreneurs and Export (LKUEA), The Lithuanian Wood Working Industry Association “Lietuvos mediena”, Furniture Cluster of South-East Estonia, Lehrinstitut Rosenheim e.V. (LHK), Latvia University of Agriculture (LLU), Kauno Kolegija (KK), Center of Competence for Wood Processing and Furniture Manufacturing (unit of Võru County Vocational Training Centre) and AS Latvijas Finieris.
The opening meeting of “Skilled-Up” took place in Rosenheim, Germany from 15th to 16th January 2019. On 22nd February 2019, partners of the “Skilled-Up” project from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania met in Riga. The meeting in Riga focused directly on the project objectives and goals. A decision was made to start the development of the curriculum and also in parallel start a testing of the curriculum in form of continuing vocational training.
On 19th September 2019, a development programme for wood processing sector workers, primarily for current and future first-level managers, was launched by the Center of Competence for Wood Processing and Furniture Manufacturing (unit of Võru County Vocational Training Centre). “The First-level Manager in the Wood Processing Sector” curriculum was born in thanks to the cooperation of Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The foundations of this training programme have been developed under the Erasmus+ Skilled Up project. 17 participants from 8 different companies signed up for the training, forming the first group.
The training cycle lasted throughout the academic year. Throughout the academic year, the training cycle covers the following topics: economic and legal aspects of the operation of the company, development of communication and teamwork skills, organization of work in the company, quality assessment and technology in the field of wood. Communication skills have become the key to creating and maintaining a good working environment, thus the focus was on learning communication and teamwork skills. The topics in the first part of the annual training programme were trends in the wood industry, the basics of company management, legislation related to work, the labour market and career planning, communication skills, teamwork and managerial role in the team and performance skills. In the second part of the programme, the topic is the organisation of work in the wood processing company, and the third part makes it possible to update the basic knowledge of wood technology. As part of the training, participants also go through a product development cycle – from idea to execution.
On 10th September 2020, the second training group, consisting of 14 people, started the “Skilled-Up” one year development programme at Võru County Vocational Training Centre in Väimela in Estonia.
Meanwhile, on 2nd October 2020, all 17 students of the first group completed the annual training programme. As a final project participants built doll houses which were later presented as gifts to local kindergartens.
On 30th June 2021, the second training group graduated, having prepared three cat houses as their final project, which were later donated to Võru Shelter. According to project manager Astrid Org, the curriculum “Head of Primary Education in the Wood Field” has now been tested for 2 years in a row and has gotten positive feedback. The second annual experiment has shown that people working in this field need and want training. Based on the feedback received from participants, it can be said that next to the content of the training, getting new connections in the wood field, learning from each other and really collaborating was almost as important. The keywords that have grown out of this project could be versatility, interconnectedness of topics, practicality and also playfulness. Even though the “Skilled-Up” project ends, it will hopefully become a new continuing education curriculum at the Võru County Vocational Education Centre. Similar training took place in all three Baltic States at the same time and was aimed at people already working in the field.
Annabel Suigusaar, Tartu University
Gallery: Tauno Erik
The second training group graduated, having prepared three cat houses as their final project, which were later donated to Võru Shelter.