FPEmpresa VET Schools Association, Dualiza (Bankia Foundation’s brand for VET promotion) and FP Innovación (an educational project) have successfully organised the Innovaprofes Hackathon, whose objective is for VET teachers to design and create a Classroom for Entrepreneurship in 48 hours.

This initiative, originated from the Plan to Modernise Vocational Training announced by the Spanish government in July 2020, has received a great support from the Spanish teaching community in general, with 367 applications, and from FPEmpresa in particular, with 46 associated centres, from 14 (out of 17) Spanish autonomous regions.

In the opening session, the coordinator of FPEmpresa for Andalusia and member of FP Innovación, Juan Antonio Aguilar, has highlighted that “this 21st century has stomped its way in and this calls for a different type of teachers, a type of teachers who can face challenges and overcome difficult situations”. Furthermore, he states that “it’s time to embrace new methodologies, new organisational structures and new work spaces, hence the significance of these Classrooms for Entrepreneurship”.

VET teachers have had the opportunity to enjoy a series of training actions in those 48 hours, all aimed at planning and designing a Classroom for Entrepreneurship for their schools. Some of these actions were: case studies, learning pills, mentoring, brainstorming sessions, etc.

In the end, 43 teams presented their projects, which represents a total amount of 239 participants. Once all the proposals have been assessed, the first, second and third winning projects will be awarded with 1,000€, 750€ and 500€, respectively.

FPEmpresa VET Schools Association and Dualiza (Bankia Foundation’s brand for Vocational Education and Training promotion) have launched an ambitious free training scheme for VET professionals. It is divided into three training initiatives and each one of these will fulfil a specific objective and will be aimed at a specific audience.

The first initiative of this scheme is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Project Based Learning (PBL) to improve and update the professional competences of VET teachers. More than 2,000 teachers have participated in this training action, which started last April and will continue until the 17th of May. This MOOC has been created by VET teachers with wide experience in the field of PBL. It aims to improve teachers’ competences by designing and executing projects, facilitating reflection methods in teaching practices and boosting a network of VET teachers with similar interests. Furthermore, teachers who take part in this MOOC will learn more about the PBL methodology, through observation of case studies that have been successfully implemented in other places and will also learn teaching strategies related to the use of ICT and innovative evaluation methods.

The second training initiative, which started at the beginning of May, is aimed at the management teams of FPEmpresa’s associated centres and is focused on providing participants with practical tools that allow them to achieve greater self-knowledge and self-management and to improve team management. This second action is made up of five courses in which topics like resilience, leadership, conflict management or high-performance team management will be dealt with. The last course will take place in November this year. There will be a total of 200 places available, 40 places for each course.

According to FPEmpresa’s vice-president, José Luis Durán, “these five courses intend to fulfil the training needs that members of management teams face sometimes”. “Managing a team in an efficient and effective way requires specific tools and practical knowledge, that are not always close at hand. Therefore, we hope that participants find this training initiative useful”, he highlighted.

The third and last part of this training scheme will be focused on training VET teachers to use teaching tools that help them with conflict management inside the classroom. It is expected to begin next October.

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.