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European vocational programmes lack training in advanced safety systems in automation

VET teachers and students, testing and evaluating the unit of safety systems.

This is one of many interesting conclusions that the EURIAC project has arrived at and that proves that transnational EU-project adds extra value. 

In the autumn of 2011, the EURIAC project distributed a questionnaire to the industry investigating what competences they require in automation.

(read more about the questionnaire) http://www.euriac.eu/News/Market%20analysis%20first%20results/Marketanalysis-first-result.html

The project team then selected the four competence areas most asked for and developed four units of learning outcomes based on those competences. One of these competences was safety systems.  The unit was tested in Kungsbacka, Sweden, in the end of March.

This meant that for two weeks, the students at the Programme of Mechatronics at Elof Lindälvs gymnasium received new classmates. Students from Finland, Spain, and the Netherlands conducted part of their training in automation together with Swedish students creating a European Class. The unit of learning outcomes in safety systems was taught in English and consisted of lectures, workshops, projects, and study visits at companies.

When testing and evaluating this unit in safety systems, the teachers discovered that they actually all lack competence themselves in operating more advanced safety systems.

- Usually, we work on security systems, but they are used as a part of a system. We don’t dismount things and put them back again, says Kenneth Karlsson, responsible teacher at Elof Lindälvs gymnasium in Sweden.  To provide the training we even had to borrow equipment from ABB Jokab Safety, a company here in Kungsbacka specialized in machine safety systems.

The four VET teachers discovered that the educational program curriculums in all four involved countries do not cover the more advanced levels of safety in automation, which is a competence the industry wants, according to our market analysis.

During the two weeks of training, Kenneth Karlsson organised a workshop together with another local company working with on safety systems – Pilz Scandinavia. Erik Ronnstedt from Pilz began by introducing the students to the production of safety-cages, safety locks etc.

- When the tutor started explaining about the higher levels of security, level 3 and 4, the knowledge was new also for me, says Kenneth Karlsson. I learned so much. I am only familiar with level 1 and 2.

The students were then able to work hands-on with the technique and they were provided different kinds of systems that were adapted to each other. They connected parts and took them apart.

- But then they started taking parts from each other. All of a sudden, the students were trying to use relays in a way they are not supposed to, Kenneht Karlsson explains. But working like that, the level of learning rises!

When Kenneth Karlsson teaches he often only shows the students what they are going to make and then he lets them work on their own. He does not even take the equipment out for them. Martin Jansson, one of the students from Finland, thinks this is one of the differences between Finland and Sweden. At home they work more together with the whole class, whereas at Elof Lindälvs gymnasium they work more on their own projects.

- I think it is a better way to work on projects, says Martin Jansson, because then you can work at your own level.

Throughout all four mobilities the VET teachers have noticed that the teachers in Finland, the Netherlands and Spain give their students much more guidance throughout the lessons.

- We can now see that my model of teaching gives the students a higher capability of analyzing, Kenneth Karlsson declares.
- I agree, says Christian Dahlin from Finland, but I do think the level of knowledge is higher among our students.

EU has a framework called EQF, for describing the level of an education. The EQF has eight levels and it describes what a learner knows, understands and is able to do – 'learning outcomes'. One conclusion in the EURIAC project is that the teaching model of Kenneth Karlsson takes the lessons to a higher level of EQF. When the students get fewer step-by-step instructions it develops their ability of analysis, which in the end give them a better learning outcome.

If you want to know more, please contact:

Pernilla Öhberg, Project Manager
Telephone: +46-300-833554
E-mail: pernilla.ohberg@kungsbacka.se


Kenneth Karlsson, VET-teacher at Elof Lindälvs gymnasium, Sweden
Telephone: +46-300-833557
E-mail: kenneth.karlsson@kungsbacka.se

David helps making a barbeque for the last night.