In the European policy discourse the increasing need for upskilling and reskilling the labour force on the one hand, and the emphasis on student-centred learning and need for flexible learning paths on the other, have led to the emergence of an increased attention to new credentials and short study courses, often referred to as micro-credentials.
Micro-credentials have been identified as a significant element in the European Union’s European Education Area as indicated by the recently published EU Skills Agenda where the Action 10, “A European approach to micro-credentials”, is among the EU tools and initiatives supporting lifelong learning (European Commission, 2020). In view of the rapid changes in our societies and economies, micro-credentials have been discussed when preparing the forthcoming 2020 Communiqué of the ministers of education in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) as a means to respond to learners’ needs for upskilling and reskilling (Bologna Process, 2020).
I-RESTART will build on the emerging framework for micro-credentials and will include it as an innovative way to allow rapid upskilling and reskilling as well as increase the uptake of VET in the agri-food and veterinary sector in general.
I-RESTART will also participate in Action 2: Strengthening skills intelligence and Action 3: EU support for strategic national upskilling action, through the creation of an EU roadmap.
Regarding VET education policies, five indicators of the EQAVET will be targeted in training:
– Participation rate
– Completion rate
– Placement rate
– Satisfaction rates
– The quality of training material
The ECVET certification will ensure that the training at country level will be certified within a transparency framework that will allow concrete mobility of skills and labour force around Europe. This certification also increases the demand of the training because it produces more visibility of trainees. The training content, provided in form of micro-credentials will cover the urgent need of upskilling and reskilling in the agri-food and veterinary sector, will follow the ESCO classification and can be used as per se or included in existing courses offered by the VET providers. In addition to it, the I-RESTART project will promote in collaboration with local and national agencies an innovative framework-based on micro-credentials to allow an easy up and re-skilling of the existing workforce, as well as an easier accessibility for students from several backgrounds.
The I-RESTART project, in line with the Green Deal and Farm to Fork, with the aim to promote a healthy food system for people and planet will also meet several European policies for a safer and more sustainable food industry, in particular by answering the main pillars of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP):
– to ensure a fair income to farmers by providing them with the right set of skills to tackle the circular economy changes, the adaptation of their business model also with the use of digital technology (marketplace, short food supply chains, direct sells, new logistic and retailing)
– to rebalance the power in the food chain, by highlighting the skills required by the agri food systems, and creating content and curricula to gain those skills and empower the producers,
– to support generational renewal by promoting the careers opportunities in the sector, creating apprenticeship scheme to help the transfer of best practices between generations and to rebuild attractiveness by the agri-food sector to young people,
– to provide the agri-food sector with state-of-the-art practices to apply in day-to-day operations to improve productivity and ensure livelihood.