S. Heinen, M. Müller, K. Gerschner, M. Frenz

RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
Due to technological and work organizational innovations in the context of „industry 4.0“, small and medium-sized companies in manufacturing industry experience an substantial progress. Significant changes in the work tasks for skilled workers take place: They have to manage technical changes as well as they have to quickly react on heterogeneous and dynamic changes of the market and of customer demands. In particular, companies and especially their employees on the shopfloor have to get a deep understanding of how to achieve effective and efficient production processes to stay competitive and innovative.

These changes result in new challenges for teaching and learning in the field of vocational education and training. The knowledge and competences which are required to perform those work tasks have to be developed. Accordingly, the development of competencies for complex tasks in process management, such as product and process conception, process development and implementation of production planning and control should be fostered. In this context, an increasing amount of skilled workers needs to be qualified e.g. for tasks of process planning and development, business administration and human resource management. Therefore, those employees need to be qualified in, for instance, methods and instruments of project, lean and quality management.

To classify the necessary competencies and qualifications and to give a comprehensive framework for trainings, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BiBB), the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), the Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall) and the German Engineering Association (VDMA) developed a federal training curriculum and examination regulations for “process managers in production technology” on the level of operative professionals. Actually, there are still neither suitable advanced training courses for further education and training to cover this general curriculum nor practicable learning arrangements based on modern didactical approaches such as work process-integrated competence development or the implementation of constructivist methods. In order to qualify skilled workers adequately for process management on the level of operative professionals, it is necessary to develop, realize and evaluate a concept for work process-integrated competence development. This concept and its realization as an innovative telecourse will be presented in this paper.

The chosen didactic approach focuses on an innovative blended learning concept for “process managers in production technology”, which is realized by means of a mobile learning application for tablet PCs combined with teaching lessons with on-site attendance. For this purpose, studies of qualifications research with typical methods of industrial engineering and ergonomics as well as pedagogical methods have been conducted. In order to achieve a practicable course, the developed learning tasks are strongly related to manufacturing reality because they are based on studies of work process analysis on specific working processes in manufacturing industry. Thus, the participants of the course have to solve problems of realistic projects that are developed with respect to the processes in small and medium-sized companies in manufacturing. From April 2015 until October 2016 the telecourse is tested with 18 participants from different small and medium-sized companies.