The WORKFORCE project is concerned with the development of a further education network in the sanitary, heating and air conditioning (SHAC) sector. The ITA coordinates this network project and supports it in the form of scientific monitoring, consulting and evaluation.
The starting point of WORKFORCE is a company association of bad & heizung concept AG (in the form of a stock corporation supported by 45 member companies), which has already been established for 20 years. The focus of the association is on the creation of synergies and the joint handling of central tasks (such as personnel development, marketing, benchmarking/controlling, purchasing), which are difficult for each individual SME to handle alone. Despite this, compared to other companies, already good starting position and a currently still excellent order situation, strong new players are entering the market in the context of digitalization, although these are as yet unknown in the SHAC sector. With their online offerings, they pose a threat to (brick-and-mortar) businesses. In contrast, the work of SMEs is based on direct customer contact in their own business premises and the changing demands of end customers for a professional, partly digital consulting and sales process. In addition, the growing shortage of skilled workers in the SHAC sector is also jeopardizing the competitiveness and future viability of these companies.
Further training, also in the area of digitalization, was therefore recognized early on as an essential measure for maintaining the employability of employees, increasing the attractiveness of the occupational field and improving the future viability of the companies.
The target group includes craft enterprises from the sanitation, heating and air-conditioning sector and further training providers as well as large companies in the sanitation and heating industry.
Aim of the project is to expand this already permanent association of companies into an open and sustainable industry-specific continuing education association.
In the course of this, the development of a suitable modular concept and business model will make the network accessible to other SMEs in the area of further education. The existing members of the further education association, i.e. SHAC enterprises interested in further education, further education providers and industrial companies, which are legally only loosely coupled, will be coordinated with the help of the development of a cluster management.
Further objectives of WORKFORCE include the testing of different approaches for the digital survey of further training, needs in companies with the aim of professionalization and improving the scalability of the needs survey. Coordinated further training, especially in the area of digital and AI competences, as well as digital formats for further training and for the systematic exchange of experience across companies will be tested in the course of the project.
There is also the intention to include large companies in the sanitary and heating industry and training providers in the network to improve the quality of the training offered.
The testing of blended learning models and formats suitable for the skilled trades by balancing virtual content and face-to-face courses is part of the project's objective. In addition, the adaptation and testing of a platform for information, research and the identification of concrete interest in further training is planned, taking into account the needs of the SHAC sector and SMEs in the skilled trades.
Further information on the project can be found at: LINK available soon.