Artificial intelligence in vocational education and training

Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) and Google Zukunftswerkstatt [Google Future Workshop] launch new learning offers

Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding its way into increasing numbers of industries – whether it's production, medicine or insurance. According to a Bitcom survey, while two thirds of German businesses regard artificial intelligence as the key future technology, a lack of specialist staff does often represent a barrier in terms of integration and use. Fraunhofer IAIS and the "Google Zukunftswerkstatt" are tackling this challenge with a free learning offer covering all aspects of AI in vocational education and training and are teaching the basics of smart technologies to vocational school pupils and teachers. Yvonne Gebauer, Minister for Schools and Education for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is patron of the project.

Digitalisation is increasingly demanding new qualifications and competencies from employees. There is demand in particular for competent staff to support with the integration and application of artificial intelligence in companies – not just staff with academic degrees but also with school-based or dual vocational education and training. With a new learning offer, the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS and the Google Zukunftswerkstatt are providing a comprehensive introduction programme specifically aimed at trainees and trainers which comprises live training, e-learning courses and download materials.

"The new learning offer 'Künstliche Intelligenz in der Berufsausbildung [Artificial intelligence in vocational education and training]' represents an important contribution to supporting the future-oriented development of vocational education and training," explains Education Minister for North Rhine-Westphalia and project patron Yvonne Gebauer. "Supporting key digital competencies, including the area of AI technology, is particularly important in terms of both professional opportunities for young people as well as ensuring the supply of skilled workers. The new learning offer will help us meet the exciting challenges of the digital transformation."

The three core areas on which the offers are based are "Basics of programming", "Computational thinking" and "Introduction to AI". From an introduction to coding using the graphical programming platform Open Roberta, to problem solving with algorithms and creating artificial neuronal networks, coaches from the Fraunhofer IAIS teach coding and AI basics to participants in a range of different formats.

Artificial intelligence not just for academics

"Young people in particular often believe that they need an academic degree with a technical specialism to be able to work in AI environments – this is a fallacy however in terms of the future labour market," explains Dr. Carmen Köhler, project manager at Fraunhofer IAIS. "Together with the Google Zukunftswerkstatt, we start right from the basics to enable trainees to access AI. We want to establish and build on the basics in terms of methodology and technical aspects, but also in terms of social and personal competencies."

"Whether they're qualified dental employees, motor vehicle electronics technicians or goldsmiths - for us it is important to show participants the opportunities which artificial intelligence provides for their occupation," explains Sandra Fründt, Director of B2B-Marketing at Google for the DACH region. "Using the training programme developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer IAIS, we want to encourage those starting out on their careers in as many sectors as possible to discover new digital opportunities for themselves and to identify ways in which, in their business, they can begin to practically implement what they have learned."

The aim of the platform is to enable teachers to integrate AI in vocational school teaching as well as to directly provide trainees with the expertise they need. "In order to reach as many trainers as possible, we have prepared the offer in such a way that each of the target groups, that is to say vocational school pupils and their teachers, can find their way around straight away and access the training in line with their requirements," explains Dr. Carmen Köhler. 

Source: (website on research news), revised by iMOVE, June 2022