Innovation in business education and job qualification needed to prevent EU industry skills gap in packaging
Novel methods of business education and a better, internationally comparable description of the job qualifications in packaging are needed to prevent a skills gap in the European industry. These were the main conclusions of a unique European conference dedicated to the future of business education in packaging, which took place on April 23rd 2015 in Enschede, The Netherlands. The conference was organised by NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre, the association of companies addressing the activity of packaging throughout the supply chain of packaged products. The NVC membership, projects, information services and education programme stimulate the continuous improvement of packaging.
Keynote speaker of the conference was prof.dr. Filip Dochy (Leuven University, Belgium). He stressed the importance of life long learning for the European workforce and provided an overview of the global developments. The workforce is ageing, retirement ages are going up to 67 and higher and technology is moving forward. Only continuous education and training can prevent a skills gap which would seriously hamper the competitiveness of individual companies and the potential for industry and retail in Europe to innovate on behalf of the society in general.
Conference chairman Michael Nieuwesteeg (NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre) highlighted the importance of well-defined and internationally comparable packaging related job qualifications. In the vision of NVC, these are the starting point for the development of the appropriate examination procedures as well as the most applicable training and education programmes. He agreed with prof. Dochy that the result of the training programme in terms of learning outcomes should be the goal and that the methods used (online, classroom, blended, company visits, joined assignments, etc.) are instrumental to achieving these goals. Nieuwesteeg referenced the European Qualifications Framework EQF which was used to develop the successful European NVC Course Programmes in Packaging I and II (EQF5 and EQF6, respectively).
Four main aspects of business education in packaging were subsequently discussed in-depth in four different Round Table Discussions, addressing the career development of the qualified packaging professionals, the difference between educating the workforce (aged 25-67) and students (aged 18-24), the many different positions in the organisation where packaging knowledge is required and the international harmonisation of the job qualifications.
Preparations have started for the 1st Global Conference on the Future of Business Education in Packaging, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday May 7th, 2017 in Dusseldorf (Germany), during packaging exhibition interpack.