Launch of European Centre of Vocational Excellence in Dairy
The European Commission has launched a €4M investment to establish a Dairy Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) under the Erasmus+ scheme. The programme is led by the Association of European Dairy Industry Learning (AEDIL) and will establish nine regional Centres, including one based in UCC. The centres will contribute to a transnational European Dairy Learning Hub, which will be led by Professor Seamus O’Mahony, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences.
Underpinning the training will be a Dairy Academy, led by Professor Alan Kelly, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, which will bring together stakeholders from the Dairy Industry, Dairy researchers and Dairy Teachers to collaborate, learn from each other and share best practices to ensure that the dairy sector is ready to tackle ongoing sustainability, digitalisation and talent attraction and development challenges.
The Irish Dairy CoVE will bring educators and industry representatives, with a shared focus on talent development, to develop a programme of integrated training blocks to meet identified needs and gaps. The Irish CoVE will be led by UCC (Dr Joanne Uí Chrualaoich), who will work with partners in Carbery Food Ingredients, Munster Technological University, Cork Educate Together Board, Teagasc Education, the Society of Dairy Technology and Dairy Industry Ireland to develop the four-year programme.
The dairy CoVE will foster dairy competitiveness through a smart specialisation strategy for lifelong upskilling of existing employees, potential future recruits to the sector and teachers by strengthening collaboration between these learning stakeholders. A key ambition is to develop industry-informed, impactful, sustainable programmes for vocational, lifelong and work-based learning to meet the needs of the current and future dairy professional.
Speaking about the project Dr Joanne Uí Chrualaoich (Irish Dairy CoVE lead) said,
“The attraction, training and retention of dairy professionals has been an ongoing challenge for the international dairy community. The Centre of Vocational Excellence will address this challenge through a targeted range of practical training and development activities. As the Number 1 University in Ireland for Dairy Science, with a 95 year history of educating and training dairy industry professionals, we are excited to work collaboratively at a national and international level to realise these ambitions. Dairy is a key sector for the Irish economy but faces considerable challenges. We are happy to bring together this consortium of educators to support the irish dairy industry in rising to the challenges".
Joao Santos, Senior Expert at the European Commission, said ‘To modernise European Vocational Education and Training, collaborative partnerships that build on both local as well as international expertise is more important than ever. VET systems must become more resilient and responsive to disruptive change and rapidly changing social and economic conditions, as well as provide people with skills to confidently navigate the Green and digital transition. The European Commission has selected this project on Vocational excellence in the Dairy sector, as one of the most promising initiatives to attract talent, to develop innovative learner-centred teaching and learning materials and methodologies, and ultimately to contribute to the competitiveness and innovation in the Dairy industry. Ensuring that both young people and adults are empowered with the skills for fulfilling lives and quality jobs, is a top priority of the European Commission.
Anne-Sofi Christiansen, President of AEDIL, said
"With 30 years of international partnership, and bringing together a diverse range of skills, qualifications and experience, AEDIL are delighted to be coordinating this innovative Dairy Centre of Vocational Excellence to deliver success in Vocational, work-based and lifelong Dairy learning for Europe. This initiative builds on our previous success with Erasmus+ where we established an evidence driven characterisation of the skills needs and gaps for the dairy sector. This groundwork gives us great confidence that the CoVE is tackling the right challenges for a modern dairy sector meeting local and international needs using out innovative ‘’working together approach. I feel confident that the present project will both strengthen the collaborative work and the networking among our members, and will significantly boost dairy education and consequently the dairy industry in Europe. We hope to serve as inspiration for other sectors".