Archive of European Projects

Mobilising Agro-Food Expertise
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The agro-food industry plays an important role in the European Union (EU) economy and is an important sector involved in the achievement of the goals set out by the “Europe 2020” growth strategy. This sector generates about 6% of the EU Gross Domestic Product and employs over 48 million people. Due to new challenges, its economic growth and competitiveness have been underperforming compared to the overall EU economy in recent years. One of these challenges is to improve the availability of a skilled workforce. With this project, we address three critical issues: (1) too few individuals develop sector-specific qualifications at university level; (2) a gap exists between the skills that are actually required by employers and the curriculum offered by universities; (3) too little communication occurs among relevant stakeholders (e.g. universities, industry and public authorities). To tackle these issues, we have formed a strategic partnership composed of European universities (higher education institutions (HEs)) and industry partners that actively pursue communication among relevant stakeholders. In collaboration with all partners, we will organise an Intensive Study Programme (ISP) that aims at equipping graduate students with a set of knowledge and skills that are better aligned with employers’ demands. The ISP has the objective to facilitate entry of graduate students into the European agro-food job market, and to close the gap between industry needs and the academic curriculum. Moreover, based on the curriculum developed for the ISPs, we will produce a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The MOOC, together with the related dissemination activities, will allow us to broaden the learning community and to attract more interest in the agro-food sector. The HE partners came together based on a shared interest to improve education for graduate students in agro-food economics and related disciplines. This group has the advantage of representing different geographical locations (North, South) and different institution sizes (small, medium and large). Each partner will bring its own (academic and private sector) expertise and knowledge with regard to the agro-food supply chain. Our group is composed of seven partners: Five HEs representing five different EU Member States: Technische Universität München (Germany) University College Dublin (Ireland) Wageningen University (The Netherlands) Scotland’s Rural College (Great Britain) Universita degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale (Italy) and two private sector firms involved in the food supply chain: BayWa AG from Germany, a large international corporation Beikircher Grünland GmbH/S.r.l., an Italian SME The project will support graduate students in their career development and attract interest in the agro-food sector. The project contributes to the EU’s Education and Training 2020 strategic framework (ET 2020) objectives by increasing student and teacher mobility and by improving teaching quality. The MOOC to improve learning effectiveness and reach a wider audience thereby broadens the learning community. Moreover, the emphasis on international aspects (including cultural differences) of the ISP and the MOOC will raise participants’ awareness of intercultural differences. European universities’ and companies’ competitiveness at the international level will also be strengthened by the project. It contributes to attracting “bright minds” and mitigating the brain-drain away from Europe. The MOOC (i.e., based on the experience from the ISP and including input from experts in their fields) will showcase the excellence of European teaching and research to a global audience, and thus makes the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) more attractive world-wide.
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