Industrial companies are faced with the need to improve efficiency, reduce footprint and be overall more sustainable. One pathway to achieve these goals is through the usage of materials that have high strength, low weight, good toughness and excellent fatigue life. Applications range from the manufacturing of lightweight boats, trains, airplanes to indeed any structure where these requirements are key to the production process and desired outcomes. In these scenarios, which are increasingly prevalent, friction stir welding stands out as a highly efficient technology to leverage, one that is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.1% during the forecast period 2016 – 2024. But leading companies in the adoption of this technology face the uphill struggle to find qualified professionals to perform these operations. This is where FSW-TECH comes into play, with a consortium from top organizations in six countries – Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal, Romania and Belgium.
This project ambitious goal is to support the creation of three new professional profiles (European Friction Stir Welding Operator, Specialist and Engineer). To achieve this, FSW-TECH has come out with a novel approach for the delivery of European Qualifications, including work-based learning with common European tools such as Learning Outcomes, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET). As a result, there is a transparency between Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems, while international recognition increases the potential mobility of specialists across European countries. The deliverables of this project include new Guidelines, training manuals and methodologies to boost high quality and efficient work-based learning in VET. The approach is also in line with the European Union’s targets and the objectives of the Erasmus+ program specifically for personnel working in the Manufacturing sector. The impact on national VET systems will be felt in partner countries, with meaningful improvements and an overall modernisation six month onwards. This quick effect is due to the added value of the partnership, which involve different stakeholders (HE institutions, VET organisations, companies and European association) in the training process in order to make it more responsive to new challenges in the sector.