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European packaging conference focuses on preventing skills gap

Innovation in business education and job qualification needed to prevent EU industry skills gap in packaging.

This photo depicts an online education session in process.
This photo depicts an online education session in process.

Novel methods of business education and a better, internationally comparable description of the job qualifications in packaging are needed to prevent a skills gap in the European industry. These were the main conclusions of an April 23 European conference dedicated to the future of business education in packaging, held in Enschede, The Netherlands.

This conference, the 1st European Conference on the Future of Business Education in Packaging, was organized by NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre, the association of companies addressing the activity of packaging throughout the supply chain of packaged products. The NVC membership, projects, information services, and education program aim to stimulate the continuous improvement of packaging.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Dr. Filip Dochy (Leuven University, Belgium), stressed the importance of life-long learning for the European workforce and provided an overview of the global developments. The workforce is aging, retirement ages are going up to 67 and higher, with advances in technology demanding continuous education and training to help prevent a skills gap that could seriously hamper the competitiveness of individual companies and the potential for industry and retail in Europe to innovate.

Conference Chairman Michael Nieuwesteeg of the NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre highlighted the importance of well defined and internationally comparable packaging-related job qualifications. In the vision of NVC, this represents the starting point for the development of the appropriate examination procedures as well as the most applicable training and education programs.

He and Dr. Dochy agreed that the result of the training program in terms of learning outcomes should be the goal and that the methods used (online, classroom, blended, company visits, joined assignments, etc.) are instrumental to achieving these goals.

Nieuwesteeg referenced the European Qualifications Framework EQF, which was used to develop the successful European NVC Course Programmes in Packaging I and II (EQF5 and EQF6, respectively). Four main aspects of business education in packaging were subsequently discussed in-depth in four different roundtable discussions, addressing the career development of the qualified packaging professionals, the difference between educating the workforce (aged 25-67) and students (aged 18-24), the many different positions in the organization where packaging knowledge is required, and the international harmonization of the job qualifications.

Preparations have started for the 1st Global Conference on the Future of Business Education in Packaging, which is scheduled to take place May 7, 2017 in Dusseldorf, Germany, during packaging exhibition interpack.

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