Project Description

FIELDS
Addressing the current and Future skIll needs for sustainability, digitalization, and the bio-Economy in AgricuLture: European skills agenDa and Strategy
Sector Skills Alliance

Summary

European agriculture is facing many challenges, the Food 2030 policy highlights the vulnerability of agri-production due to the globalisation of the markets, increasing competition, the prices volatility and the economic uncertainty along with the low incremental crop productivity. Those vulnerabilities are stressed by increasing demand for food and feed while environmental concerns increase and climatic changes generate more uncertainties. Moving from business-as-usual agriculture to Sustainable farming is a complex process which requires a system approach, including reshaping the role of the farmer: from a mere producer of food and commodities, into “wise manager of the natural capital”.

The purpose of the project is to answer those challenges through the skills prism. Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) analysis of the factors which affect productivity identifies ‘People’ as one of the six factors. It states that: ‘Improving the skills of the workforce and the ability to harness them via effective leadership is critical to productivity growth. A correlation exists between business performance and levels of skills and education.’

However, the fact that 94% of businesses employ fewer than 10 people or are family holdings and therefore lack professional human resources support, shows that unlike other sectors, the agriculture needs a dedicated skills strategy backed with specific curricula and training.

Today’s farmers undoubtedly have the expertise yet they need help to gain additional skills to deal with new technologies and to meet the challenges of climate change and land management in the 21st century. In addition, the level of qualifications is low by comparison with other sectors, there is poor uptake of lifelong learning. This is largely due to a lack of awareness of options and benefits, a mismatch in available training and industry needs and general inertia to develop people.

A clear an EU sectoral skills strategy is needed to improve risk management, stem the loss of practical skills, improve understanding of new technologies, develop business and leadership skills and bring about a more coordinated approach to skills development. Bio-economy by linking the various actors of the value chain, by making use of new circular economy model allows to tackle many of the challenges agriculture is facing, but proper skills strategy is missing to allow farmers to address it successfully.

FIELDS will rely on previous activities and competences represented in the large consortium to define a sectoral skills strategy. The previous project is listed in Part 0 of this proposal. But FIELDS project will also rely on two on-going activities led by BIC and CEPI, which aim at identifying skills needs and skill gaps in the bio-economy sector and the forestry sector.

The purpose of the project is to answer those challenges through the skills prism. Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) analysis of the factors which affect productivity identifies ‘People’ as one of the six factors. It states that: ‘Improving the skills of the workforce, and the ability to harness them via effective leadership are critical to productivity growth. A correlation exists between business performance and levels of skills and education.’

The project has eight work packages, and has the purpose of providing strategies and training in the fields of innovation in agriculture and forestry, with particular emphasis on sustainability, digitalisation and bio-economy. These are the main objectives of the work:

1.       Identify global trends and skill gaps
2.       Design a strategy at the EU and Country level to improve the skills
3.       Provide training material and training pilot to implement these strategies
4.       Allow transferability of the skills among EU countries following European frameworks (ESCO, EQAVET and so on)
5.       Provide sustainability and awareness of the project after the project ends


Coordinator

  • University of Turin (UNITO)

Partners:

  • Confederazione Generale Agricoltura Italiana (Confagri)
  • Wageningen University (WUR)
  • ISEKI-Food Association (ISEKI)
  • Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS)
  • Aeres (Aeres)
  • AGRAR Plus Beteiligungsges.m.b.H. (AP)
  • University of Hohenheim (UHOH)
  • Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH)
  • Association de Coordination Technique pour l’Industrie Agroalimentaire (ACTIA)
  • Gaia Epicheirein (GAIA)
  • Confederação Nacional das Cooperativas Agrícolas e do Crédito Agrícola de Portugal (Confagri PT)
  • Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias de España (SCOOP)
  • Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije Zbornica kmetijskih in živilskih podjetij (GZS-ZKŽP CCIS)
  • Lebensmittelversuchsanstalt/Food Research Institute (LVA)
  • Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM)
  • Association des Chambres d’Agriculture de l’Arc Atlantique (AC3A)
  • Spanish Federation about Food and Drink Federation (FIAB)
  • Food Drink Europe (FDE)
  • FENACORE – Spanish Irrigation Consortium (FENACORE)
  • Infor Elea (INFOR ELEA)
  • Federation of Hellenic Food Industries (SEVT)
  • Lifelong Learning Platform (LLL-P)
  • Association Nationale des Industries Alimentaires (ANIA)
  • European Technology Platform “Plants for the Future” (Plant ETP)
  • Engineers for Business Ipiresies Technologias Kai Michanikis Anonimi Etairia (EFB)
  • Proagria (PA)
  • HBLFA Francisco Josephinum – BLT Wieselburg / Josephinum Research (FJ-BLT)
  • European Forum of Technical and Vocational CCIS Education and Training (EfVET)
  • Confederation of European Paper Industries aisbl (CEPI)

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