23 Sep EIfI-Tech’s latest approved Erasmus+ project, HySkills
This September, the European Institute for Innovation – Technology (EIfI-Tech) was granted a new EU-funded Erasmus+ project, called HySkills, which aims to develop a modular training course enhanced with practical training focused on the subject of green hydrogen (H2) safety skills. Chris Ashe, Director of EIfI-Tech, said: “This project combined with many other activities in the emerging hydrogen economy, enhances the reputation of EIfI-Tech“.
In order to adapt to EU carbon emission reduction targets addressed in the Paris Climate Agreement, newer green and sustainable technologies powered by renewable energy sources must be adopted – one of which being “green” hydrogen (H2), which can be used in transport, industry and domestically as a means of decarbonisation.
In February 2020, the UK government announced £90M funding to reduce carbon emissions, with £28m specifically for projects related to green H2 production, addressing the push to move away from “grey” H2 (hydrogen produced using fossil fuels). Demonstrating Europe’s commitment to adopting green H2 technologies is the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), which consists of the European Commission, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research, and has provided funding to many H2 projects. The funding toward H2 projects from FCH JU and other sources, including private and national/regional funding in Horizon 2020, equates to over €1.5B, which demonstrates the viability of adopting green H2 and attests to the commitment of transitioning to renewable energy use by many countries. Offering many benefits as a fuel source and energy carrier (i.e. storing and transporting a large amount of energy), H2 can be used in a range of technologies, such as fuel cell vehicles (FCV) and combined heat and power (CHP) units. When used to power a fuel cell, hydrogen produces only water as a by-product of combustion.
The transnational HySkills partnership, with the aforementioned in mind, has identified a clear need that must be addressed: as new green H2 technologies (and associated systems) are adopted there must be a fully equipped workforce with the ability to work with H2 in a critically safe manner. The H2 transition will result in the creation of many skilled jobs transnationally. Therefore, there will be a need for appropriate safety training, technical competency training and accreditation for those workers moving into the sector (e.g. the manufacture of H2 vehicles, H2 refuelling stations and fuel cell power generators).
More specifically, the following has been identified as being required for the future workforce:
- A sound knowledge and understanding of the potential hazards of H2 in its various states
- Knowledge of safety implications involving working with H2.
- Technical skills.
- Accredited safety skills
Although universities already focus on higher level skills and knowledge, vocational skills & accreditation relating to fundamental health and safety competence are not widely practiced or easily accessible in the partner locations. Therefore, a specialist curriculum is required to develop the technical abilities and competencies within existing disciplines (mechanical, electrical etc.) and for VET learners in order to upskill the many different sectors who will also be directly impacted by the transition to green H2 utilisation. Given this context, in order to develop the appropriate skills pipeline, research will be carried out by the partners in the relevant locations with stakeholders to directly align skills development with industry needs in this sustainable sector.
HySkills Project Objectives
The HySkills project, therefore, will seek to attain and implement a suitable method of accreditation for the course to allow future workers to become fully competent and attain accreditation in key skills for this critical sector. HySkills will also develop a comprehensive teacher training programme to ensure VET trainers have the disciplinary knowledge, technical expertise and pedagogical techniques to effectively deliver VET for this sector.
The main objectives of the HySkills project are:
- To undertake a comparative needs analysis across 5 EU countries to map the relevant safety and technical skills of future workforce in the H2 sector in order to aid the design and development of the HySkills curriculum and learning outcomes.
- To enhance the labour market relevance of VET learners by designing a modular training course and practical learning to develop accredited safety skills with the intention of creating a workforce fully equipped to integrate into the H2 sector.
- To initially strengthen the key competences of 90 learners through the pilot delivery of the HySkills modular training course within the partner institutions.
- To develop and pilot a teacher training programme to 50 teachers and trainers to enable the effective delivery of specialised cross-disciplinary engineering VET.
- To introduce modern training delivery methods (interactive case studies, project-based learning) and open access pedagogical resources (e.g. online toolkit) for staff and learners across Europe building capacity for the future H2 workforce