Post February 1, 2023 by Dragan Kusić

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Vocational and professional education needs to respond and adapt rapidly to economic, technological and social changes, which today are characterised by globalisation and individualisation, the automation, robotics and digitalisation of production processes and the transition to a green economy.
At The Institute of The Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training, we carry out various tasks to develop system solutions and measures, to develop the different content areas of vocational and professional education and to support education providers and other stakeholders:
- We carry out research, monitoring and evaluation of specific areas or elements of VET. On the basis of this research, we work with the social partners to design professional solutions and guide development.
- We develop and coordinate the preparation of VET and other education and training programmes and ensure their introduction and implementation.
- We provide expert support, advice and guidance to VET management and staff and other stakeholders in the planning and delivery of education and in the implementation of professional solutions. To this end, we organise and deliver a range of professional meetings, training and education.
- We promote the use of innovative approaches in the learning process, individualised learning, the development of textbooks and other learning materials, and the use of modern learning technologies.
- As the national reference point for quality, we are responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring the quality of vocational and professional education in Slovenia.
- We promote vocational and professional education and ensure the participation of young professionals from different professional fields in SloveniaSkills and EuroSkills competitions.
- In all areas of our work, we incorporate the wealth of experience gained through participation in various national and international projects.

For the reasons mentioned above, we were delighted to be able to participate in the 1Point project. The aim of the 1Point project is to transform the standard quality assurance method and information security procedure used in the industry into a creative and innovative training methodology for the VET sector. The project also aims to develop a motivational learning platform to train existing and future maintenance staff to improve their IT skills and develop innovative thinking.

As part of the project activities and in cooperation with the Association of the Metal Industry, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training organised a multiplier event of the Erasmus+ 1Point project: 'Training in VET using the one-point lessons approach'. One of the most visible results of the project is the 1Point e-learning platform, developed by the project partners and freely available in the partner languages (currently supported: English, Slovenian, Spanish, Italian and Greek) and freely accessible at ( ). The areas in which interested parties can be trained using this platform are 3D printing, lean manufacturing and AR/VR technology.

One of the key target groups of the learning platform is students, so we are pleased that the event was also attended by students from the final year of the Secondary School of Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry at the Ljubljana School Centre, together with Techer Helena Jerman.

In the professional part of the multiplier event, in addition to a detailed presentation of the learning platform, various experts presented innovations and development trends in the field of AR/VR and 3D printing technologies:

The new generation of employees in the manufacturing industry needs to be technically proficient, but formal VET programmes often do not keep up with the needs for new technical skills in industry due to system regulations. The Erasmus+ 1Point project promotes a work-based learning approach by providing concrete, applicable skills. 1Point training helps participants to think about and carry out tasks that are directly related to their current or future job.
Motivational learning inputs have been developed to help keep up with new developments in specific areas of expertise. In the e-learning platform, we focused on the most common problems in the areas of lean manufacturing, AR/VR and 3D printing technologies and presented relevant practical solutions using the 1Point methodology based on integrated productive maintenance. This approach ensures that the target group can effectively acquire actionable knowledge that will help many maintenance engineers to implement practical solutions in the workplace.
The e-learning platform also includes knowledge assessments for all registered users, who, if they have the appropriate knowledge, will be awarded a certificate with a badge, supported by the Maintenance Association of Slovenia (DVS) and the Maintenance Association of Greece (HMS).
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are being used more and more each year. The main reason is the maturity of the technology (most of the birth problems of both technologies have been solved, such as the large and heavy VR/AR glasses and the advances in software that allow for a better user experience). The biggest boom in VR and AR technologies is of course still in video games, but the use of these technologies has already emerged in industrial settings. The reason for the slower uptake in industrial settings is clear: companies do not invest in and deploy technologies that have not yet been tested and have no measurable positive impact on the business.

VR technologies have already become an indispensable part of professional tools for:
- planning production plants with digital twins, where it is possible to walk through the planned factory,
- planning and reviewing the operation of robotic cells,
- planning of manual assembly stations with ongoing ergonomics checks,
- training of workers to carry out assembly and maintenance work, etc.

AR technology enables guided interaction between humans and machines/devices. Many companies use different AR equipment to enable workers and maintenance staff to:
- learning and guiding the maintenance worker through the operations of adjusting or repairing machines and devices,
- improved remote support for troubleshooting or production bottlenecks (if the company does not have a trained maintenance person on site at any given time, a person with the appropriate knowledge can guide and visualise the steps through VR glasses),
- guiding or training a worker to carry out assembly operations,
- inspecting the condition of machinery and equipment for predictive maintenance (showing the condition of individual machine components), etc.

However, extreme care must be taken when integrating VR and AR tools into any production environment. Technology should only be introduced when it has a proven positive impact on the user (worker and maintenance).
Additive manufacturing technologies, often referred to as 3D printing technologies, are manufacturing methods based on adding material, i.e. turning a digital model into a three-dimensional object by successively adding material layer by layer on a 3D printer. 3D printing is thus a completely different manufacturing process than conventional "material removal" processes (e.g. CNC machining) or "product injection moulding".
The advances in 3D technologies are visible year after year, while their use is increasing dramatically. These technologies reduce development and production times for many products, which are important for the rapid development of science in the world. Interest in these technologies is growing steadily as users and companies realise the benefits they bring. They enable rapid development and rapid production of individual models, objects and innovations. They make it possible to continuously monitor the development of a product and not only to monitor the appearance of a model using a 3D programme, but also to print it as a 3D model and see how it actually looks in space. This makes it easier to work, for example, in mechanical engineering, where machine parts and prototypes can be designed and manufactured and finally used functionally. Most importantly, 3D technologies allow rapid prototyping, making it easier for end-users or potential investors to visualise. In an application area such as medicine, there is a very big advance. It has been shown that 3D technology has already been developed to the point where a replacement organ can be created using human cells and successfully transplanted. 3D technologies are still struggling to flourish as there are many applications where they can be used, but a lot of research is still needed. 3D printing offers many advantages over conventional manufacturing techniques. Despite the many advantages of 3D printing, it is currently unlikely that 3D printing will completely replace the well-known and widespread traditional production methods, although it undoubtedly offers fast and highly accurate production of products using well-known and proven materials.

The experience of participating in the 1Point project is important for The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training because it has given us an insight into the international environment. Not only in terms of monitoring technical progress in the maintenance sector, but also how other EU countries ensure that professionals and future professionals are trained in time to work innovatively and effectively in the profession. The possibility of training via an e-learning platform is certainly one of the useful forms of training in modern times. In this way, individuals can acquire new knowledge at their own pace, to their own extent and in the environment of their choice. All of these can be important motivators for learning or training. Participation in the project has given us further insight into the importance of informally acquired skills, the importance of recognising the knowledge and professional competences acquired in this way.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission – Project Reference: 2020-1-SI01-KA202-076060.