The initiative – supported by the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology – is designed to tackle the urgent need for better education systems across Europe.
In fact, a consultation of over 1,000 business and employers found that most current education and training provision does not meet the needs of the industry.
First-of-its-kind assessment process
The Learning Services is the first-of-its-kind, offering a single, pan-European assessment process for all professional education and training programmes within the agrifood system.
“Over 40 million people are currently employed within our global food system, from production and manufacturing through to retail and hospitality,” said Maarten van der Kamp, director of Education at EIT Food.
“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.”
Learning Services sets the bar in the way practitioners across Europe deliver non-academic training courses, using the EIT Food Quality Mark of Excellence to ensure a course meets the needs of the agrifood sector.
EIT Food offers over 50 courses in its catalogue, including 25 MOOCs (massive open online courses).
The programme is underpinned by EIT Food’s proprietary Competency Framework, which offers clear vocational and professional pathways for learning that employers can use to identify skills gaps in their workforce and select high-quality learning materials to aid career development.
This framework will enable learners to articulate the skills and knowledge required to develop their careers as innovators and entrepreneurs in the agrifood sector, by setting a standard for developing and enhancing competencies.
Dual accreditation and certification approach
EIT Food has also partnered with the Fraunhofer Institute – the world’s leading applied research organisation – to introduce a dual accreditation and certification approach to ensure courses, learning providers and learners all meet a recognised standard.
Using globally accepted guidelines, EIT Food has defined a robust accreditation process that can be applied to each course and programme within its portfolio.
On completion of a course, the EIT Food Assessment offers learners the opportunity to assess their knowledge and receive an internationally-recognised certificate.
The Learning Services will also offer consultancy services and a mentoring programme for educators in the agrifood sector.
Recognising their investment
Imran Afzal, R&D senior manager for PepsiCo said it is essential for the sector to upgrade and provide high quality education.
“With unprecedented challenges facing our food system, it’s even more important that our workforce have the knowledge and skills they need to adapt, work safely and drive efficiency, so that we can continue to serve our consumers with high quality, delicious products,” said Afzal.
“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.”