European industry needs to work smarter to increase profitability and competitiveness. Working smarter with a combination of automation, digitalization and maintenance, with a higher availability in the production processes, will also prevent the flow of production to low cost countries.
Maintenance is however not adequately emphasized in the academic world and this is one of the most important issues for the EFNMS. From the industrial side the formal training and learning is also of importance. In order to unite the member countries within the EFNMS it has been crucial to carry out this project transnationally.
The guidelines from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, CEDEFOP, focuses on the validation of non-formal and informal learning. The total learning results are of the highest interest for development of an organization.
Validation for certification is already important within the EU and will be even more so in the future. Higher education is mostly oriented on development of new technologies and products and therefore there is a need for theoretical an practical vocational training.
Smart and cost-effective production including maintenance will make great effects on the competitiveness for European industries. Therefore, good examples are prerequisite for competence development and new business opportunities.
The priorities for this project is to develop:
- A common platform for qualification, validation and certification of maintenance personnel with measurable learning outcomes.
- Detailed qualifications in maintenance makes the requirement visible and facilitates faster implementation.
- Systems for mapping individual competences in relation to the qualifications.
The project has been divided into two parts:
- Qualifications describing with measurable learning outcomes for actual subjects.
- Development of validation questions for EQF level 6 and 7 and related to the qualification.
There are four categories of maintenance personnel adressed in the project:
- EQF level 7: Maintenance managers.
- EQF level 6: Maintenance supervisors and engineers.
- EQF level 5: Maintenance technician specialists.
- EQF level 4: Maintenance mechanics, electrical and automation electricians.
Where EQF stands for European Qualification Framwork
The project objective was to form a staircase for qualification, validation and certification for personnel within the maintenance area. These steps will be used for recruiting maintenance personnel for companies and more important, for competence development and to support lifelong learning.
It has also been very important to create an impartial validation system without any personal influenced in the assessments. Moreover the validation process needs a high security level to avoid any infringement.
Six members from the EFNMS has been involved in this project with the main objective to introduce complete system for qualification, validation and certification for maintenance personnel throughout the 23 member countries in the EFNMS.
Common validation platform
When the project is finished all EQF levels from 4 to 7 will be gathered in a uniform European platform. This is a unique possibility and an opportunity for the European industry. The project will be one of the first in the world to give a common view on the competence in maintenance.
Furthermore, the EFF level 6, maintenance engineers and supervisors, was not covered in a practical adapted validation system. This category is working as specialists but also need a good basic understanding in maintenance competence and how to plan for maintenance in the future.
The two missing validation parts, maintenance managers and engineers/supervisors respectively, will be the key to the market. Decision makers are oriented to their own levels and when the project is finished it will be easier to have an acceptance for all four EQF levels. This is important for personnel on the two basic levels and will in the end generate larger turnovers for companies.
Updated validation system
The existing validation system need to be updated by using modern IT techniques with questions based on new qualifications reflecting today’s standards. The tests must cover more multi-skilled technical subjects in addition to economical and management subjects.
The planned validation system will be divided into two parts:
- Basic muliple choice questions (MCQ) to check the knowledge.
- Complex muliple choice questions (CMCQ) to check the skills.
All parts will be digitalized and use automatic correction.
The main target group is the maintenance and automation responsible within the industry. The rapid implementation of automation has changed working conditions. Earlier separated vocations will be multi skilled with requirement of a lot of logical thinking for troubleshooting, system design and planning of maintenance.
A secondary target group is the vocational schools and courses on EQF level 4 – 7. Here are qualifications important as guidelines and validation, both for students and teachers. Used curriculum reflecting older requirements and the combination of traditional techniques and modern IT-based control and following up techniques must be implemented in courses.
Implementation of Asset management will be an important support for planned project. The industrial leaders have already started the process to plan from early stage until scraping / settlement. This project will align with the ISO 55000 family of standards for Asset Management and is suitable for integrating with other major management systems. These include the ISO 9001 for Quality Management, ISO 14004 for Environmental Management, OHSAS 18000 for Occupational Health and Safety, and the ISO 31000 for Risk Management.
The European Union (EU) has several common instruments helping individuals in transfer, recognition and accumulation of their assessed learning outcomes, to achieve a qualification or to take part in lifelong learning. The European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET) is one of these instruments; it uses flexible and individualised learning pathways, including transnational mobility.
In this project we have not put credit point on our subjects. This must come during the next development. We have concentrated on measurable learning outcomes and verification that the test taker has reached set level. No university and vocational schools have started maintenance courses aiming to maintenance manager, maintenance supervisor or maintenance technician specialists.