Realisation • 11 April 2023

Three years of BHC 21: a look back with the project manager

The manufacturing industry is crying out for workers, and yet young low-skilled youth are finding it difficult to enter the labor market. Can technology help close that gap?

That question was central to the European project Boosting Human Capital in the 21st Century (BHC21). The project was coordinated by POM West Flanders and involved partners from West Flanders, Hauts-de-France and the English Kent County. Together they examined how innovative learning tools can help low-skilled young people acquire both technical and soft skills. BHC21 ended in March 2023. The project manager Diana Faifer looks back on the main achievements.

Diana Faifer (POM West Flanders): 'In 2019, we started the project with successful roadshows in the three partner regions. After that, we could really take off.'

'Our partners started looking for ways to motivate and inform low-skilled people about the industrial sector. Then they tested new training tools - some developed in-house, others purchased. Two stood innovatie learning technologies stood out: the VR applications, for example to learn how to operate machines, and the smart voice assistant, a kind of Siri for industrial applications. The partners also developed and tested technical training courses.'

'All these efforts were scientifically grounded. This showed for example, among other things, how important it is to take vulnerable young people on company visits. Only then they do really feel what is expected of them on the work floor.'

We'll meet again

'We have developed train-the-trainer programmes to train the trainers in working with these new technologies, but also to deal with the target group. For example, the trainers learned how they can increase the soft skills of the low-skilled people, how to build up self esteem, how to deal with conflict...'

'On 12 October 2022, we completed the project with a closing event in Lille. There the partners were able to present their contribution and exchange experiences with external stakeholders'.

'Meanwhile, the project ended. Because of the corona crisis, it was sometimes tough, but everyone worked very hard to keep the project alive. This created a special professional connection and even a close friendship between the partners. As a matter of fact, many partners have concrete plans to continue working together on topics such as training, digitalization and soft skills. To everyone who participated so enthusiastically: many thanks, and we'll meet again!'

Related articles