Andre Wilms

Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation

Contact data

Education and Training

Digital Transformation
in Vocational Training

The entire workplace world is undergoing a highly dynamic process of transformation, whose end cannot be foreseen. Because more than ever, future skilled workers are required to be able to perform more communication-related tasks, and to holistically comprehend and control processes and systems in the era of Industry 4.0. In order to keep pace with the new technologies, it’s not only the industrial skilled workers who have to upgrade their capabilities with advanced training. These new issues need already to be addressed in vocational training. Vocational college lecturers and instructors have to achieve this transfer of knowledge and acquire the requisite knowledge themselves. For this purpose, the Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation provides support in the form of new curriculum contents and instructional aids.

In the context of Industry 4.0, holistic, interdisciplinary skills need to be communicated to the multipliers more than ever. The processes and subprocesses involved along the value added chain of a production network for a smart factory are becoming progressively more complex, and have to be transparently depicted.

The empirical feedback to the Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation from many consultations with vocational schools and companies that take on trainees clearly shows that it’s imperative to implement new curriculum contents for imaging the new fields of knowledge themed around Industry 4.0. At present, there are only inadequate implementations for this purpose. That applies both to the content and in particular to the skilling of teachers in the vocational colleges and the instructors in the companies. This will enable them in future to train their students on the very latest technologies in a process-driven, self-organised approach.

The skilled employees of the future will have to learn to look beyond the horizons of their core competences, and interlink several disparate disciplines. Industry 4.0 presupposes this interdisciplinary balancing act. In this sense, it is strategically important that in view of fast-paced technological advances the trainees will after their three years of training have taken the latest state of knowledge fully on board.

For these new challenges, the Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation offers new forms of teaching and learning for inculcating knowledge.

The NRWgoes-digital subsidised project

Against this background, the Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation has conceived, on the basis of a pilot project already successfully completed, an expanded regional initiative in one German state for skilling the protagonists involved in vocational training. The Youth Foundation is not aware of a comparable project, despite nationwide networking, and is offering for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia an opportunity to position itself as a pioneer in terms of digitalisation in vocational training. The results are then to be transferred to a nationwide level.

Within the context of this project, a training and skilling concept is being created that represents the very latest technological standard and the ongoing framework conditions concerned. This will ensure optimum training in the subjects that will essentially codetermine tomorrow’s workplace world. Besides the instructional materials developed, digital learning with interactive e-learning, instructional videos and the integration of webinars, is an important constituent.

Image courtesy of Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation

In conformity with the new requirements laid down in the Amending Regulation of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, for integrating Industry 4.0 elements into the job profiles of the industrial metalworking and electrical engineering professions, which has been in force since 1 August 2018, teachers at the approximately 60 vocational colleges in North Rhine-Westphalia and approx. 130 to 150 instructors of the surrounding companies are trained in the following skills:

  • process analytics
  • IT security
  • smart maintenance
  • CAx-aided manufacturing
  • additive manufacturing
  • networked production systems
  • intelligent production with CPS
  • Work 4.0: organisation of work processes

The MLS learning platform

One of the project’s didactically methodological goals is to utilise digital forms of learning as a constituent of vocational training in schools and companies.

One vital building block in the overall skilling concept is a web-based learning and working platform (MLS – Mobile Learning in Smart Factories). This will be made available to all participants in the project. Here, the Youth Foundation can deploy a self-developed platform that is already being used successfully in more than 420 companies.

MLS is a mobile, workplace-oriented, didactically optimised learning and working application, which enables

  • instructors to improve their medial skills and to integrate digital media into everyday training,
  • learning locations to be more effectively networked, and ongoing learning situations to be interlinked with didactically optimised learning tasks,
  • trainees to autonomously acquire new skills in the work process, and to reflect on their learning status.

There had not previously been a learning application for trainees, instructors and teachers in the field of mechanical engineering with which self-regulated learning directly in the work process of the plant environment can be implemented. The MLS learning and working application is designed to assist small and mid-tier companies, in particular, to upgrade the skilling and networking of their staff and trainees.


Andre Wilms

Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation (Nachwuchsstiftung Maschinenbau gGmbH)
Phone: +49 5205 74-2555
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