Eurada News nº390 - July 2019

The next generation of education and training in the wood and furniture sectors and why it matters for development agencies

Why does the next generation of education and training in the wood and furniture sectors matter for RDAs? Regional development agencies (RDAs) are devoted to economic growth of territories in Europe. This means that regional practitioners always followed the trends of two interconnected key economic sectors Europe-wide: the wood sector and the furniture sector. EURADA project officer Christopher McInnes stressed what stated above while presenting the IN4WOOD project at the Knowledge Exchange Platform at the CoR.

Figures speak a clear language: in the EU the yearly turnover of the wood industry amounts to 128 billion EUR and the furniture sector reached over 90 billion EUR. Also, almost 1 million employees work for the estimated 300 000 enterprises in the wood industry, while the 130 000 enterprises of the furniture industry employ 1 million of workers. This explains why the wood sector and the furniture sector matter for regional development practitioners. EURADA is a project partner of IN4WOOD project, a highly innovative experience for the next generation of education and training in the wood and furniture sectors. It not only cross-sectorally relates to employers and employees, researchers, lectures, students and policy makers connected to the wood and furniture sectors but also paves the way to new European Sectoral Skills Alliances able to gather expertise and develop solutions to Industry 4.0 related problems.

On June 28th EURADA project officer Christopher McInnes presented the IN4WOOD project to the delegates of the Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) seminar at the European Committee of Regions (CoR). The KEP seminar was organised by the CoR and the European Commission – DG Research and Innovation together with the support of EURADA and Eurocities. This ambitious event was held to update participants about the main developments at policy level of both Industry 4.0 and social innovation.

The IN4WOOD project embraces 13 partners from 5 countries, each one best contributing with its own expertise to address a dramatic need of the furniture and wood sectors: the shortage of highly qualified professionals in ICTs and emerging technologies related to Industry 4.0 crucial to operate in today’s business environment. Since 2015 leading EU VET technology authorities and providers, technology consultancies, and wood and furniture experts involved in the IN4WOOD extensively exchanged knowledge and best-practices within and outside the project consortium to create highly innovative training material for furniture and wood sectors’ stakeholders.

In detail, the project results of this CETEM-led Erasmus+ project are the following:

RDAs are strongly encouraged to capitalise on this experience and promote the creation of learning and training online infrastructures with other industrial focuses. Building on IN4WOOD, RDAs could best gather the expertise of key regional actors alongside the triple helix and coherently develop “virtual universities of applied sciences” focused on urgent sectoral needs of enterprises in relation to the changes driven by emerging technologies.

Written by Tommaso Galli, EU Project Officer at EURADA