Digital Transformation in Advanced Manufacturing: An Integral Training Curriculum for EU technicians to deploy and manage digital tools in Smart Manufacturing or DTAM in short, is a three-year Sector Skills Alliances in VET project, cofunded by the Erasmus+ program of the EU.

The coordinator of the DTAM project is the associated centre of FPEmpresa VET Schools Association, Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri, S. Coop., partnering with a total of 10 other organisations from 5 European countries. Politeknika Txorierri is a VET and HVET centre in the Spanish Basque Country. The school specializes in: Environmental Control & Education, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Robotics, Sales and Commercial Management, Mechanical Design, Mechanical Production and Machining.

The DTAM project comes in answer to an ever-increasing need for the upskilling and reskilling of technical workers and students in the EU to help improve their employability in a skills intensive fast evolving labour market i.e. advanced manufacturing (AM). According to Josu Orbe, general director of Politeknika Txorierri, DTAM will contribute to the mission of this centre to be a point of reference for companies and leaders in the comprehensive and continuous training of people, and in their adaptation to this ever-changing technological world. The project will also address other multiple needs which have recently became even more evident because of developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Among those needs are the (1) digital and technical skills mismatches in demand and supply of labour, (2) demand for sector-tailored industrial workers, (3) lack of recognized VET programs on the topic and a practical training through access to developed IoT (remote) labs and WBL and last but not least (4) the need for an updated training for low or under-skilled adult workers threatened by replacement or obsolescence due to technological advances.

Therefore, DTAM will deliver a new curriculum in digital transformation dedicated to the quality training of mid-high-level technicians in key enabling technologies for Advanced Manufacturing. The curriculum will help grow a workforce of technicians capable of understanding, installing, configuring, monitoring, analysing, transferring data and maintaining digital systems in advanced manufacturing environments so meeting a critical skills gap in EU Industry 4.0 and addressing partners’ regional RiS3s.

FPEmpresa VET Schools Association is one of the more than 40 institutions that have joined the STEAM Alliance for women’s talent “Niñas en pie de ciencia” (Girls ready for science), promoted by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. The endorsement of this alliance takes place under the frame of FPEmpresa’s objective to collaborate with public administrations, from all the Spanish regions, in those initiatives that lead to a positive impact in the field of VET.

This initiative is aimed at strengthening STEAM professions (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) among young girls. Its objective is to join efforts, foster synergies and promote projects that contribute to the design of an education system that removes gender stereotypes associated with certain professions; an education system that encourages women’s empowerment within STEAM professions from initial stages of education and that helps eliminating the gender gap in the access to these disciplines.

“Contributing to the reduction of the gender gap in the labour market is one of the objectives of FPEmpresa”, Luis García, president of FPEmpresa, highlights. He states that “technological and industrial maintenance courses are, generally speaking, less demanded by women” and he believes that these studies “usually represent more stable and high-quality job opportunities”.

The Alliance will have an annual plan of work, in which goals, agenda and resources will be detailed. Furthermore, this plan will allow to follow up all the promoted lines of action. Among other initiatives, it is expected to create a quality stamp for schools, to launch a call for projects on STEAM and to elaborate a Career Orientation Programme focused on STEAM professions, with gender perspective.

The STEAM Alliance for women’s talent “Niñas en pie de ciencia” (Girls ready for science) was presented publicly on the 11th of February 2021, coinciding with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.