ASSETs+ will participate in the Conference on Future Skills for Europe’s Aerospace and Defence Industry.

The conference is co-organised by the European Commission and EDSP members Rzeszow University of Technology -partner of the ASSETs+ project-  and Aviation Valley, on 21-22 October 2021 in Rzeszow, Poland.

Building on the work of previous and existing initiatives to tackle skills gaps in the defence sector – from the EDSP to Assets+ and the Aerospace & Defence Pact for Skills – the event will explore, from a knowledge triangle perspective, challenges and opportunities for cross-border collaboration for skills providers, European policies supporting skills development, and industry future needs.

There will be an opportunity for business-to-business (B2B) meetings, and for visiting technical labs.


  • Industrial needs in aerospace and defence sector
  • Technical and soft skills of today and the future
  • New skills driven by emerging technologies
  • European policies supporting the skills development with concrete examples
  • European instruments supporting development of educational materials to apply in skills development

The event is organised in the framework of the European Network of Defence-related Regions.

ARTICLE: Towards ESCO 4.0 – Is the European classification of skills in line with Industry 4.0? A text mining approach

We share with you this interesting article in which our partners from the University of Pisa and Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini have participated as co-authors.

ESCO is a multilingual classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications, and Occupations created by the European Commission to improve the supply of information on skills demand in the labour market. It is designed to assist individuals, employers, universities and training providers by giving them up to date and standardized information on skills.

Rapid technological change means that ESCO needs to be updated in a timely manner. Evidence is presented here of how text-mining techniques can be applied to the analysis of data on emerging skill needs arising from Industry 4.0 to ensure that ESCO provides information which is current.

The alignment between ESCO and Industry 4.0 technological trends is analysed. Using text mining techniques, information is extracted on Industry 4.0 technologies from: two versions of ESCO (v1.0 – v1.1.); and from the 4.0 related scientific literature. These are then compared to identify potential data gaps in ESCO .

The findings demonstrate that text mining applied on scientific literature to extract technology trends, can help policy makers to provide more up-to-date labour market intelligence.

Authors: Filippo Chiarello, Gualtiero Fantoni, Terence Hogarth, Vito Giordano, Liga Baltina, Irene Spada

A Sustainable HR Supply Chain for Defence

Would you like to know about the skills for a sustainable human resources supply chain for defence?

Watch the video below where Dr. Gualtiero Fantoni, ASSETs+ Coordinator from the University of Pisa, presents the ASSETs+ experience at the Skills for Industry Conference, last June 29.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is huge. Combined with the digital and green transitions, industry will undergo fundamental transformations.

New technologies are transforming the way people work and acquire new skills. They offer a great potential for the development of smart services as well as new and better jobs. In this context, there is a strong need to foster skills acquisition and promote the right to training for all.

The Conference, that took place last June 29-30, was focussed on the upskilling and reskilling challenges that the EU is facing, presented good practice cases, scenarios and recommendations for creating new training and jobs opportunities.

You can watch the whole recording of the Skills for Industry Conference here.

European Skills Agenda & Youth Employment Support: one year on

Exactly a year ago the European Commission presented the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience and set ambitious, quantitative objectives for upskilling and reskilling.

What has happened?

Nine of the 12 flagship initiatives have been launched and the Commission will present proposals on the remaining three before the end of this year.

Behind each of these flagship initiatives are activities to open up education and training opportunities for everyone, make qualifications and certificates more transparent and accepted across borders, and shed light into what are the skills needed for the labour market of today and tomorrow.

What does this mean in practice?

Pact for Skills

Through the Pact for Skills, the European Commission is bringing together companies, workers, national, regional and local authorities, social partners, cross-industry and sectoral organisations, education and training providers, chambers of commerce and employment services to create a culture of lifelong learning at work.

Nearly 400 organisations have signed up to the Pact already, committing to a charter with key principles on building quality and inclusive skills initiatives.

Large-scale partnerships are emerging: the ball is rolling in 14 ‘industrial ecosystems’. High level round tables with movers and shakers in these ecosystems, are being followed by commitments on what they will do to help up- and reskill their employees, and people who work – or want to work in their sector.


Over two million people are using Europass to showcase their skills and connect with jobs and learning opportunities across Europe.

Modernised in July 2020, the new Europass includes an online profile, which allows people to record all their achievements in learning, working, volunteering or any other experience.

Europass also helps people understand the value of their skills – thanks to the European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations classification (ESCO) – and interests as well as the next steps they want to take in their career.

It offers tailored job suggestions in cooperation with EURES, as well as a wide range of courses and useful information on working and learning in Europe.

Skills Intelligence

Do you want to know what are the skills most sought after now in your region? Or what are the occupations on the up? These are just some of the things that we are shining a light on.

The EU agency Cedefop is using cutting-edge technology to analyse thousands of job portals and millions of job adverts across Europe in all European languages. In ‘SkillsOVATE’ you can find out where the opportunities for your chosen profession are greatest, or what the most requested skills are.

This work, together with more traditional skills intelligence sources, like forecasts, company surveys or information on bottleneck vacancies, helps us to understand how the labour market is evolving and provide more granular evidence to guide people’s choices.

Vocational education and training (VET)

A new Council Recommendation together with the Osnabruck declaration have set a strategic vision for EU cooperation on VET and defined a set of concrete actions to be carried out at EU and member state levels.

The initiative on Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) is now in full swing – supported by Erasmus+ funding. CoVEs bring together a wide range of local stakeholders, enabling VET institutions to rapidly adapt skills provision to evolving economic and social needs. They operate in a given local context, being the linchpin of skills ecosystems for innovation, regional development, and social inclusion, while working with CoVEs in other countries through international collaborative networks.

The renewed European Alliance for Apprenticeships, has grown further, to reach over 1 million apprenticeship placements and other learning opportunities. The Alliance, embedded in the Pact for Skills, places a new focus on digital and green apprenticeships, while fostering national apprenticeship coalitions, incentivizing support to SMEs, and mobilising local and regional authorities for apprenticeships.

The high ambition of VET policy priorities have been matched with significant EU financial resources under the new MFF. The Erasmus+ programme has assigned more than €4,3 billion to support actions in the area of VET in the period 2021-2027, with an additional €400 million to support more than 100 networks of Centres of Vocational Excellence over the period 2021-2027.

Almost 2 million VET learners, apprentices and staff will be given the opportunity to have a work-placement abroad in any country of the world.

Youth Employment Support (YES)

Very early in the COVID-19 pandemic it became evident that young people would be among those hardest hit by the containment measures, such as closures of schools and work places. In addition, it was important to support young people to build back better for the future.

Exactly one year ago, the Commission proposed the Youth Employment Support (YES) to support young people, however, it was not limited to crisis support but also had as an objective to help young people in the long term.

Since then, a series of initiatives and activities announced in YES have been pursued both at the EU and the Member State level. For example:

  • in Germany, short-time work schemes helped young people stay in their jobs and continue their apprenticeships
  • in many Member States, such as Hungary, Cyprus and Romania, targeted hiring subsidies allowed recently graduated young people find a first job
  • new posts were created in sectors that needed more workers, such as the health or social sectors in Belgium, or the sports sector in France, allowing young people to put their skills into practice
  • financial support was made available for young Belgians who wanted to launch their own enterprise
  • in Lithuania such support was offered for young entrepreneurs who had to change their economic activity

The YES package included a proposal for the reinforced Youth Guarantee, which came into force as a Council recommendation on 30 October 2020. Member States are currently implementing a variety of Youth Guarantee activities which aim at reducing unemployment and inactivity amongst young people by preparing them better for the labour market. For example:

  • Belgium has decided to intensify outreach and guidance towards young people not in employment, education and training (NEETs)
  • in Austria, low-threshold training offer has been expanded to help this particular target group
  • many unemployed young people in Greece, Latvia and Portugal now benefit of short training courses that should offer them the digital skills they will need at the labour market
  • partnerships have always been the foundation of Youth Guarantee activities, but the crisis situation has concretely demonstrated their importance, resulting in strengthened cooperation between different authorities for example in Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands

The crisis is not over yet and many young people continue to suffer from its impact. Continuing support measures is vital. The European Commission supports the Member States with funding through the NextGenerationEU and the European Social Fund+ and by offering platforms to exchange ideas and experience. The state of implementation of the reinforced Youth Guarantee will be monitored in the Employment Committee Review in October 2021.

Other initiatives

Work on the remaining actions is continuing at full speed and the Commission will put forward proposals on these issues by the end of this year.


Winners of the first European Defence Challenge

We are very pleased to announce the three finalists of the first edition of the ASSETs+ European Defence Challenge:

–        1st winner team: Emre Kursat Kaya and Miguel Garrido Moreno from the College of Europe

–        2nd winner team: Matěj Pastír and Radka Fléglová from Charles University of Prague

–        3rd winner team: Marinette Gaillon and Auriane Georges from Science Po Lille

Congratulations! Many thanks to all the students, the speakers and reviewers who took part to the ASSETs+ EDC 2021!aA



On June the 21st, three student teams will be awarded for their 10-page essays the purpose of which was to answer the following question: Which technologies and technology bricks are particularly relevant for Europe’s sovereignty in defence and security? This event will close the first edition of the European Defence Challenge, which is one of the achievements of the ASSETS+ project[1], supported by the European Commission.

Launched on December 2020 with L. Mandl (Vice-president Sub Committee on Security and Defence, European Parliament), G. Darrieussecq (Minister Delegate to the French Minister of the Armed Forces), B. Schmitt (Director for Defence, ASD Europe) and E. Tsigaridas (DG DEFIS, European Commission), the European Defence Challenge is a competition open to all undergraduate or graduate students from all faculties in European Universities or other institutions dedicated to higher education.

During the first stage of the contest, the students were asked to share their vision on a topic by submitting a one-page note. Around 100 teams coming from more than 50 higher-education institutions located in 19 countries signed up. A jury involving academics and industrials selected 26 teams that moved on to the second phase of the contest. It started with a webinar with A. Lamassoure (Former Minister in France and former member of the European Parliament), N. Pirozzi (Istituto Affari Internazionali) J.-L. Moullet (Deputy Director General, CNRS) and A.-R. Ungaro (Defence Manager, ASD Europe) as speakers. The purpose of this webinar was to provide the teams with tools to further develop their ideas in order to draft a 10-page document. Each submitted paper was then assessed by 5 to 6 different reviewers.

Results will be announced during the Award Ceremony on June, 21st.


[1]     Funded within the framework of the Erasmus+ program, ASSETS+ is a European project that involve 30 partners from 8 different countries, including Universities, VET providers, companies, clusters, etc. It aims to implement a training offer that corresponds to the evolutions and challenges of defence in the future, with teaching methods such as project teaching, summer schools, challenges, e-learning, services that facilitate links with the industrial structure. The programs will focus on disciplinary fields linked to C4ISTAR issues, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber security. See

European Defence Challenge is now evaluating submissions

The first edition of the European Defence Challenge has received a large number of submissions from students studying in more than 50 higher-education institutions in 20 countries in the world.

A balance almost reached between the numbers of submissions from undergraduate and graduate students.

A very encouraging representation of women in the participants (40% of the participants). It is now time to evaluate the one-page proposals.

ASSETs+ has identified the future needs of the defence industry

Press release

59 potential defence related applications, 97 technologies, 172 skills classified, and 181 job profiles identified. That is the result of the first phase of the ASSETs+ project.
ASSETs+ (Alliance for Strategic Skills Addressing Emerging Technologies in Defence) is an Erasmus+ project, working to build a comprehensive strategy to create, develop and upskill students and employees focusing on digital technologies (namely: robotics, autonomous systems, AI, C4ISTAR[1] and cybersecurity) thereby reinforcing the human resource supply chain in the defence sector.

The background of the project is that European defence sector is facing skill shortages which constrain the development of product market strategies and the promotion of economic and employment growth in relatively high value-added segments of the global economy.

It is difficult for the defence industry to forecast the future demand, as it depends on the future levels of public procurement

Also, only a low volume of specialist skills are required making it difficult to design educational programmes of an economically viable size.

Markets are nationally segmented and with a high degree of secrecy, which limits the mobility of skills between EU member states.

All these issues are some that the ASSETs+ project seeks to mitigate by identifying the skills needed in the defence industry and will design and implement educational programmes accordingly. In close cooperation with the industry.

During the first phase of the project 500.000 documents have been analyzed with a mix of text mining methodologies and team expertise in the technological field and defence matter to explore technological domains and identify their trend, the defence-related applications and the required skills.

The results will now be used in the next phase of the project in which each of the identified educational levels to create a framework that covers both pedagogical and technical aspects for how to conduct the skills development and education activities supporting the technologies identified in the initial phase. Furthermore, the objective is to ensure that the educational programmes comply with pedagogical requirements and match industrial needs.

Read more about ASSETs+:

[1] C4ISTAR is an acronym for Command, Control, Communitions, Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition and Reconnaissance

2-day online workshop addressing the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on EU Aerospace and Defence Ecosystem.

Gualtiero Fantoni from Università di Pisa will outline the skills needs for Europe’s defence sector at a 2-day online workshop addressing the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on EU Aerospace and Defence Ecosystem.
The workshop will take place on 8-9 July and is organized by DG DEFIS.

In preparing the needs assessment to inform our Recovery Plan, the European Commission identified 14 industrial ‘ecosystems’, representing around 90% of the business value added in the EU.

The ecosystem encompassing aeronautics, space and defence employs around 870 000 highly skilled jobs (2,5 million direct and indirect jobs)– a large majority of high value. It generates a turnover of approximatively EUR 250 billion.

This high-tech industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. There have been disruptions in the supply chain, falls in demand, launches getting postponed, to name a few. This, in combination with financial issues is threatening the survival of some of this ecosystem’s businesses.

Space, aeronautics and defence are an expression of Europe’s strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty. As these industrial sectors rely on complex and long-term development cyclehigh technological intensity, and depend on a substantial part on governmental programmes, this ecosystem has specific needs in the coming years.

Against this backdrop, the Commission’s reflection on how to make our industries more resilient and less dependent, in supply chains and technology, finds a particular resonance in this ecosystem. This reflection, as well as the preparation of the recovery package presented on 27 May, has built on our engagement in dialogue with the actors of the different industrial ecosystems.

It is now the right time to structure this engagement with industry. To this end, DG DEFIS is holding two virtual workshops to address the specific challenges and potential opportunities of this ecosystem.

By bringing together actors across this ecosystem, from large companies to SMEs and startups, from research institutes to academia and from associated service provider to technology suppliers, we intend to set up an open, inclusive and geographically balanced forum.

Other participants would include Commission representatives and the relevant EU external agencies: GSA, ESA.

Workshop on the Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EU Aerospace and Defence ecosystem

This workshop will hinge around three sessions dedicated to the three arms of the ecosystem: space, defence and aeronautics. During the session, companies, SMEs, research institutes will be given the floor to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities in the changing geopolitical and post-COVID context. Discussions will also contribute to unleashing the potential synergies between the 3 sectors and to outlining some mitigating and remedial actions. Together, the participants will develop a common view on enhancing the resilience of the ecosystem as a whole.

Interested in joining the Space Ecosystem workshops ‘Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EU Aerospace and Defence ecosystem’? The workshops will take place on 8 July (14:00 – 18:00) and 9 July (9:30- 13:15). 

Please express your interests online via this form by 30 June 12:00 (noon CET).

Work Package 1 presented at online conference

On 13 May the first ASSETs+ conference was held, online – due to the Covid-19 situation.
At the conference six of the wp-leaders presented the current status of their work packages and the way ahead as the project is taking shape. WP1 is the the foundation of the whole project, as it is here a thorough mapping and analysis is being done of the technologies and skills needed in the defence industry.
The Work Package is cooperating intensively with Work Package 2 and 3 who will design and implement the future educations.

WP1 is led by Università di Pisa with participation of Université de BordeauxAalborg UniversityPolitechnika Rzeszowska im. Ignacego ŁukasiewiczaUniversidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad de Sevilla

The first public results from WP1 are expected this summer and will be posted on the results page.

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