Addressing the current and Future skIll needs for sustainability, digitalization, and the bio-Economy in AgricuLture: European skills agenDa and Strategy – FIELDS
European agriculture is facing many challenges; the Food 2030 policy highlights the vulnerability of agri-production due to the globalisation of the markets, increasing competition, the prices volatility and the economic uncertainty along with the low incremental crop productivity. Those vulnerabilities are stressed by increasing demand for food and feed. On the other side, environmental concerns and climatic changes generate more uncertainties and. Moving from business-as-usual agriculture to Sustainable farming is a complex process which requires a system approach, including reshaping the role of the farmer: from a mere producer of food and commodities, into “wise manager of the natural capital”. This requires to profit of advances in sustainability, digitalisation and bio-economy.
However, transfer of these innovations and skills to farmers require synergy also of other actors in the agri-food sector, like food industries that could communicate to farmers and be partners in this process of knowledge transfer by showing the value to farmers of product derived from sustainable agriculture and forestry, that has also circular-economy loop with the industry itself. In today’s world, digitalisation is a driver to share knowledge easily, information, and to make better use of information available. This helps to provide information, reinforce links between partners and allows some optimisations.
Today’s farmers undoubtedly have expertise yet they need help to gain additional skills to deal with new technologies and to meet the challenges of climate change and land management in the 21 st century. Also, the level of qualifications is low by comparison with other sectors; there is poor uptake of continuing vocational educational training, that needs to be addressed through appropriate VET training.
The purpose of the project is to answer those challenges through the skills prism. Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) analysis of the factors which affect productivity identifies ‘People’ as one of the six factors. It states that: ‘Improving the skills of the workforce, and the ability to harness them via effective leadership are critical to productivity growth. A correlation exists between business performance and levels of skills and education.’
The project has eight work packages, and has the purpose of providing strategies and training in the fields of innovation in agriculture and forestry, with particular emphasis on sustainability, digitalisation and bio-economy. These are the main objectives of the work:
- Identify global trends and skill gaps
- Design a strategy at the EU and Country level to improve the skills
- Provide training material and training pilot to implement these strategies
- Allow transferability of the skills among EU countries following European frameworks (ESCO, EQAVET and so on)
- Provide sustainability and awareness of the project after the project ends