The challenges that manufacturing SMEs face among others includes: difficulty in filling positions, a lack of young high-tech expertise, an aging high-tech workforce, skills shortages, the need for more academia-industry cooperation.

Future-oriented education and training efforts will need to prepare current workers for working both in new jobs and roles and in new sectors by promoting lifelong skills-driven learning. Across sectors and markets, digital transformation is changing professions, skills, and job responsibilities.

This project aims to improve the EIT RIS countries’ innovation capacity by changing the educational approach, enhancing the “digital” skills of manufacturing SMEs and promoting digitalization under the umbrella of Industry 4.0.

This program is addressing skill needs for further innovation and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector with an emphasis on SMEs and labor market challenges. SmartDIGI aims to support SMEs to test and adopt digital technologies as well as to adopt lifelong learning culture to develop high-tech T-shaped skills of their workforce essential for the digital transformation of the businesses.

The project provides a program where students, academics, and SMEs work together to build skills by co-creating solutions to real manufacturing challenges. Therefore, Teaching and Learning Factory (TF and LF) approaches are combined with open information events to apply jointly developed solutions to industrial problems and address the demands of both students and professionals.

This will be achieved by the establishment of a collaborative network that can facilitate the exchange of industrial problems and the provision of new solutions linking academia and industry.

SmartDIGI main tasks:
• Development of a Smart Educational Framework with methodology
• Development of educational content (digital nuggets) and guidelines on how to conduct and apply TFs and other training activities.
• Development of Knowledge Exchange Network, involving universities, RTOS, and manufacturing SMEs.
• Provision of SmartDIGI learning and training services in 5 project countries, focusing on relevant challenges: low proportion of high-tech skills personnel in the SMEs due to digitalization.

SmartDIGI expected outcomes:
• Academia, by promoting lifelong skills-driven learning, will prepare current workers for working both in new jobs and roles and in new sectors.
• Companies will gain access to expert knowledge and to a pool of novel ideas resulting from Academia R&D activities.
• Employees will develop their high-tech skills and competencies leading to high-quality jobs through the TF offered by academia.
• Academia will provide the highest quality standards in education and training.
• New partnership model will be created between academia and industry to develop training infrastructures.
• Companies will share their specific industrial challenges, exchange ideas, best practices, and success stories through the open information events.
• Academia and Industry will be challenged to interact for better industrial orientation in academic research.
• Academia will optimize their research focusing on real industrial need.
• Students will develop their digital skills through TFs to become high-tech talents contributing to the growth and low unemployment rate.
• Academia-industry collaboration will benefit the social and economic growth of the countries and regions where the model is implemented.