Transnational training for chemical lab technicians
Germany is facing a shortage of skilled workers in many areas of industry, including the chemistry sector. The situation is no better in other European countries. The EU Chemlab II project (Transnational training for chemical lab technicians), sponsored by the EU lifelong learning programme ‘Leonardo Da Vinci - Transfer of Innovation’, is seeking to rectify this situation. Its primary goal is to establish a training programme for chemical lab technicians in the participating European countries. In the long-term, Chemlab II hopes to introduce an EU-wide certified training programme which will result in a final examination to achieve the title of ‘EU certified Chemical Laboratory Technician’.
To date, there have been very different training standards in place across Europe leading to the profession of chemical lab technician. Some countries focus more on theory and require a study programme. In Germany, there is a dual training system whereby trainees attend a vocational college as well as undertaking practical work within a company from the outset. However, teaching for the position of chemical lab technician in Germany has a strong national focus. Trainees are given little, if any, opportunity to gather experience abroad. The Chemlab II project therefore aims to establish the dual system in the participating partner countries (Greece, Poland and Turkey) and to make the German training system suitable for Europe. Chemlab II also seeks to offer trainees the opportunity to benefit from a transnational exchange programme, enabling them to complete individual technology modules in the partner countries. In this way, the trainees are able to acquire key soft skills such as inter-cultural competence which is increasingly important to companies across Europe. This improves their chances of finding a job.
Chemlab II strives to meet the need for well-trained chemical lab technicians in Europe as well as helping to combat youth unemployment, which is still at a considerable level in most of the participating countries.
Project goals and fields of work
The aim of Chemlab II is to establish an EU-certified training programme for chemical lab technicians in the participating countries (Germany, Greece, Poland and Turkey). In doing so, Chemlab II hopes to counteract the shortage of skilled workers and improve the opportunities of trainees on the employment market. The following stages are planned:
- The introduction of a standardised international qualification to enable the transnational exchange of trainees. In this way, trainees can also benefit from acquiring inter-cultural skills and language learning. Chemlab II also supports European partnerships for developing innovative learning and teaching materials within this framework.
- Trainee access to the European educational domain. Chemlab II guarantees that well-trained chemical lab technicians are available on the European employment market in order to meet the needs of the chemical industry. Chemlab II also offers a standardised alternative to the differing training systems for chemical lab technicians across Europe and helps combat youth unemployment.
- The expansion of the project to include universities, companies and competitors from other EU partner countries wishing to take part in the dual training system. The Chemlab I predecessor project has already achieved some good preparatory work: at the start of the project, there are companies in all 4 countries recruiting trainees according to this system. The Czech Republic too is interested in the project and Chemlab II is undertaking preparatory work for Georgia to become involved.
- The networking of firms, schools, universities, certifying bodies and political educational institutions in order to exchange ideas, identify new interested parties and improve the European training system overall. Other European countries should also be encouraged to join the Chemlab II project in order to reinforce and expand the existing network.
- The establishment of the ECVET credit system (European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training) which is currently still undergoing a test phase in terms of its transnational application. Like the ECTS system (European Credit Transfer System), this will enable trainees to collect points for completing standardised modules. It is already being applied successfully in other fields. The key to the ECVET system is the ability to prove knowledge, skills and competence through credit points. This enables the international comparison of teaching and the transnational exchange of trainees.
The project results from Chemlab II are significant to the following parties:
- Young people in Europe wishing to train as a chemical lab technician.
- European companies in the chemical industry seeking to counter the shortage of skilled workers.
- European training centres which offer training courses in the field of chemistry.
- Political decision makers who want to make their country’s chemistry training suitable for Europe.
- Interested members of the general public.
The Chemlab II consortium informs all of the parties involved about the project results via scientific publications, participation in specialist conferences, the organisation of regular workshops and the compilation of publicity information material.
BayFOR as partner
PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Thomas Letzel, head of Analytische Forschungsgruppe am Lehrstuhl für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft, Technische Universität München, Germany, is the Coordinator of the Chemlab II project. Dipl.-Ing. Albrecht Friess, Scientific Officer, is your contact at BayFOR.
The coordinators of Analytische Forschungsgruppe am Lehrstuhl für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft have been developing the concept for Chemlab I and II since 2009 together with BayFOR and the associated partners. BayFOR actively supported both projects through the project development and application phase. It was also able to find a partner in the form of Poland through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). As a project partner, BayFOR supports the project coordinator with communicating the project results to the public.
The Chemlab II project was launched in November 2011 and terminated in October 2013. The European Union contributed 75% of the overall budget of 377,000 euros over 24 months as part of the ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’ ‘Transfer of Innovation’ programme.
The consortium comprises associations as well as university, ministerial and industrial partners from Germany, Greece, Poland and Turkey. Additional European partner countries are expected to follow. Discussions are already taking place with the Czech Republic and Chemlab II is preparing the way for Georgia to take part. Chemlab II is coordinated by PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Thomas Letzel, head of Analytische Forschungsgruppe am Lehrstuhl für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft, Technische Universität München, Germany. The Bavarian Research Alliance supports the coordinator with communicating the project results to the public and world of politics.
Analytische Forschungsgruppe am Lehrstuhl für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft, Technische Universität München, Germany
GEBZE YUKSEK TEKNOLOJİ ENSTİTUSU (GYTE), Turkey
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland
Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK), Munich, Germany
Istanbul Il Milli Egitim Mudurlugu, Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education (The Ministry of National Education), Istanbul, Turkey
Association of Greek Chemists, Athens, Greece
Polish Chemical Society, Warsaw, Poland
Vocational College for the Dentistry, Chemistry, Biology and Pharmacy Professions, Munich, Germany
Training Centre for the Non-Academic VET at the University of Technology Munich (AuTUM), Germany
Ökotek Environmental Technology and Chemical Industry Limited Company, Istanbul, Turkey
Bavarian Research Alliance, Munich, Germany
Watch a video about the EU project Chemlab II: