EIT Food launches Learning Services to improve professional training in the food industry
EIT Food has launched the Learning Services for Employers initiative, which it says will provide a globally recognised mark of excellence for the food sector’s professional education system.
The Services will offer the first-ever pan-European assessment process for professional training programmes and certification for learners working in agrifood.
Following consultation with more than 1,000 businesses and employers from across Europe, EIT Food found that few courses actually meet industry needs and that education systems need to be professionalised across the sector.
A Competency Framework will underpin the initiative. Available on the EIT Food website, employers can use it to identify skills gaps in their workforce. Course participants will also be able to see what skills and knowledge they need to work on to develop their careers in the industry.
The framework is split into a range of pathways including: food systems, entrepreneurship, problem solving, data management, technology management, critical thinking, communication and leadership.
As part of the Learning Services, EIT Food has also developed a Food Quality Mark of Excellence which will be used to establish that a course is high quality and meets the needs of the agrifood industry. This mark will be awarded to EIT’s own courses and other satisfactory professional training courses.
The organisation has also partnered with the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany to introduce a dual accreditation and certification system to ensure all of its courses, learning providers and learners are meeting a recognised standard of excellence. After completing one of EIT Food’s courses, learners will be able to assess their knowledge and receive an internationally recognised certificate.
EIT Food offers more than 50 courses to professional learners, including 25 MOOCs (massive open online courses.) Some of these include a demo course in how to introduce sustainability into food businesses, training in algae biotechnology research, and learning how to use rapid and portable DNA analysis tools. Each of these courses shows what skills learners will develop upon completion.
Maarten van der Kamp, Director of Education at EIT Food said: “Over 40 million people are currently employed within our global food system, from production and manufacturing through to retail and hospitality.
“However, speaking to over one thousand employers across Europe revealed that most do not feel adequately prepared to deal with the challenges facing our food system.
“As the first pan-European initiative of its kind, we hope to see our Learning Services set a standard of excellence for professional development in the agrifood industry and support employers to upskill their workforces to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.”
Consultancy services and a mentoring programme will also be offered to teachers of these professional qualifications.
Several academic, industrial and corporate partners have supported the creation of the Learning Services, including the University of Reading and PepsiCo.
Imran Afzal, Senior Manager of Research and Development at PepsiCo said: “High quality, meaningful and easy to access education is necessary for all working professionals in the food and agricultural industries, so we are proud to have partnered with EIT Food to share our knowledge and best practice to help develop this educational resource for the sector.
“The certification will provide learners with an official instrument to recognise the investment that their companies have made in their development; resulting in a better educated cohort of European in-work food professionals which can help enable the transformation of the food sector.”