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Training professionals and students on new testing technologies for the food sector
Start date: Nov 1, 2016, End date: Oct 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Food and Drink Manufacturing and Processing (FDMP) sector is no longer seen as an attractive choice for workers mainly due to the traditional reluctance to invest in innovation. As a consequence, recruitment difficulties have arisen, especially for high-level, food science and technology roles. Moreover, employers and experts feel that young people are often ill-prepared and are not sufficiently focused on the development of skills that are required in the workplace.In the field of food quality, safety and defence assurance, tests still rely on traditional laboratory analyses as well as on personnel expertise. However, new inspection technologies have been developed with great potential to be transferred to the food sector, such as: optical spectroscopy, X-ray radiology, gas sensing, and biosensors. Unfortunately, very few of them have been introduced neither in industry nor in educational and training programmes.The objective of UPDATEST is to bridge this transnational gap by increasing the knowledge, competences and skills on new technologies for food quality, safety and defence assurance in FDMP industries. The target group of the project comprises initial and continuing vocational education and training students, such as: students in the initial education system; individuals entering a job at an entry-level position; and food industry professionals who have already gained experience in the labour market. These people are recognised as being capable of, firstly, assessing both in-place and alternative, technological solutions to address food quality, safety and defence issues; and, secondly, influencing decision-makers and so bringing about change in their organisations. As a result, the project will contribute to the transformation of the EU FDMP industry in the short-medium term and in line with the Commission’s priorities.The consortium consists of a Spanish technology centre (AINIA), a UK sector skills council (NSAFD), a Spanish federation of food associations (FEDACOVA), an Italian federation of food associations (FEDSERV), and a Greek university (Agricultural University of Athens, AUA).The work plan to achieve the project objective has been structured into six activities (A1 - A6). A validation analysis will be performed in A1 by surveying 100 stakeholders from FDMP industries, technological research institutes, VET centres, and academia. On the basis of the analysis, the learning programmes guidelines will be produced. These documents will be used in A2 to select potential participants for the courses (teachers and students; researchers and technology providers; and trainers and staff members of FDMP industries); and to produce the materials for the in-person and on-line courses. Both programmes will be evaluated through the execution of 2 pilot courses for 50 IVET and CVET students in A3. The goal will be to extract valuable information to improve the quality of the generated guidelines and materials. Additionally, three horizontal activities have been devised to take care of communication and dissemination (A4); exploitation and sustainability (A5); and management activities (A6).The three main outcomes (identified as intellectual outputs) that will be produced by the project are explained in more detail as follows:• The guidelines of the learning programmes. They will be produced on the grounds of the initial (academic, VET and industrial) gap analysis. The resulting documents will assist teachers and staff of learning centres in their planning for the introduction of the new courses.• Support materials for the in-person programme. The courses will aim at giving a general, practical outline of new food inspection technologies. The materials inventory might consist of: publications, brochures, showcases, presentations and/or lectures, among others.• Support materials for the e-learning programme. The courses will be based on an easy-to-follow decision tree and will aim at guiding users to a set of resources tailored to fit their specific needs. The materials inventory might consist of: open-source, e-learning platform, videos, links to internet-based resources, virtual instruments and on-line questionnaires.It is important for the consortium to ensure that the project results will be used beyond the lifetime of the project in order to contribute to the sustainability of UPDATEST. The association will make the intellectual outputs freely accessible through open licenses. The dimension of the targeted EU-FDMP industry (285,000 companies employing more than 4.5 million people) will ensure a huge initial group of potential end users through the appropriate combination of dissemination and sustainability strategies. In order to further expand the number of people interested in the courses, the intellectual outputs will be designed in a way that they can be adapted to cover the training needs of other sectors, such as: packaging, pharmaceutical and cosmetics.

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