This site uses cookies that store non-personal information to help us improve our site.  

Best practices for supporting skills in defence

The best practices presented in this page aim to support the implementation of the European Defence Skills Strategy by disseminating lessons learnt and providing ideas for actions that may be taken by stakeholders.


New best practices are gradually added in each area covered by the five objectives of the strategy:




Funding tools for skills development, reskilling and upskilling


European Social Fund and ESF+




1. The Aquitaine Region used ESF to set up the Aerocampus Aquitaine offering courses, apprenticeships and vocational training in aircraft maintenance.


2. At the University of Dresden, the ESF aims to help students and industry remain at the forefront of IT technologies by supporting young researchers. This entails supporting innovative companies in investigating, for example, reliable and energy efficient cyber-physical systems – where computational and physical elements are combined into robots, production systems or even whole buildings. This research is vital for advances in many areas, such as aerospace, chemical processing, entertainment and consumer appliances. More info


3. ‘Che fisico!’, a project run by the Marche regional authorities and entirely financed by the ESF, promotes excellence in training and has awarded four scholarships worth a total of €42,000, each valid for a year and then renewable for a second year. The winners were selected from a pool of young unemployed graduates in physics, engineering and IT who research subjects identified as matters of priority by CERN and the Marche authorities. Once their scholarships finish, the graduates are offered internships lasting up to six months, a process that integrates them into companies in the Marche region. Some of the profits made during graduates’ time at CERN are thus reinvested locally (€328,000 budget). More info


4. Companies in Salzburg, Austria, took part in an ESF project that assessed their future skills needs and created training plans that will help them stay competitive in the marketplace. The goal is to ensure that workers are fit for the future in terms of their job training. The New Skills Update project assessed the qualification requirements of six industrial sectors that are important to the local economy. As the next stage, individual companies across these sectors were surveyed to find out their particular training needs and explore any possible future requirements. After all the information is gathered, company-specific training plans were developed.


5. The Apulian Aerospace Technological Cluster used national and ERDF resources to set up degree programmes for the regional aerospace industry. Regional EDF resources are used to fund scholarships and tuition fees for attending some of these programmes, directly benefiting the students.



European Regional & Development Funds – ERDF




1. RITA is an ERDF-funded initiative in Estonia that aims to increase the role of the state in the strategic managing of research and the capabilities of R&D institutions in carrying out socially relevant research. RITA funds the Chief Scientific Officer position in the Estonian Ministry of Defence as well as another initiative funding applied research projects for knowledge-based policy formulation in the MoD.


2. In Latvia, ERDF financing has been used to acquire, modernise and equip new training laboratories. Alongside more traditional items, such as ventilation equipment, efficient lighting and sound systems, ERDF funding was also used to acquire ‘modern technical equipment for qualified car service specialist training’.


3. In Cȏte d’Azur, an ERDF-funded project consisted of the construction of a new building and developing new IT infrastructure for the French defence company Naval Group within a cluster park focusing on maritime security and research & innovation and unlocking opportunities for growth and technological spin-offs. The construction serves to enhance the group’s research activities in these domains and promote activities within the maritime technological cluster, increasing the added value of creating new high-skilled employment and job opportunities, with more than 1,300 people directly employed as a result of this funding.


4. The Cyber Trainer project trains people with the skills required to work in the cybersecurity field. It responds to the strategic objective of the Abruzzo Region's S3 concerning the security of organisations, ICT systems and electronic equipment. Led by Leonardo, the project is building an innovative training demonstrator, located in Leonardo’s centre of excellence for the protection of information against cyber threats in Chieti. Important employment benefits are expected in the region, with the creation of highly skilled jobs.


5. A Croatian ERDF-funded project is developing a simulator that will allow the education and training of cyber security incident handlers to make the fight against cyber criminal and other cyber attacks more efficient and effective. The simulator will be used by European Ministries of Defence in European and international military exercises. It will allow for multiple groups in different roles to collaborate within a defined cyber space, in order to address potential cybernetic attacks.


6. The Brain Computer Interfaces project, developed by defence stakeholder Thales in Eastern Netherlands funded a testing ground in the University of Twente to develop technologies and application of technologies related to sense and utilisation of brain signals. The testing gound is used by the private sector in the region, including SMEs, to conduct empirical studies and test business cases. The project helped to create a high number of highly skilled jobs and is in alignment with the RIS3 priority in High Tech Systems and Materials.


7. In the natural-resource rich region of Northern Savonia in Finland, a project set out to join the dots between the regional research excellence on UAV technologies with key local business and industry (namely in the forestry and agriculture sectors) which had been in need of innovative ideas and tools to enhance to enhance their competitiveness. The project served to improve regional skills and capacity to embed the use of drones for more effective mapping and analysis of land. As such, it helped regional businesses foster innovate models and the uptake of new technologies. It can be readily used for military search and rescue operations too.


8. A project developed by Estonia defence SME Threod Systems, contributed to the development of a range of new, scalable in-house products (including a mini UAV and MWIR gimbal). It also helped improve the development and production capacity through the introduction of new management systems, production processes and equipment. Through support to the development of the company, the project contributed to the creation of new, high-skilled employment opportunities, as well as its expansion.


9. A project funding a mass production plant for advanced composite materials to anchor and enhance the expertise and skills of SMEs in the Andalusian aeronautical sector produced advanced aeronautical composite materials needed by aerospace giant Airbus operating in the region. Being fully aligned with the RIS3 Andalusia strategy, which identifies dual use technologies and defence as a strategic opportunity in the region, the creation of an innovation hub and the facilitation of research, development and skills in the aeronautics sector served to cement the local supply chains building Airbus aircrafts.


10. To tackle the high recruitment needs of the aerospace industry, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region is launching a Cité des savoirs aéronautiques et spatiaux, an ‘experience park’ aimed at disseminating scientific knowledge and training in the aerospace sector. It is likely that ERDF funds will be secured in the next few years to set up this new initiative. 







1. The MOOC in Circular economy developed by the CIRCULAR LABS project funded by Interreg has the objective to increase understanding of the importance of transforming our model of Linear Economy into a more aligned with nature Circular Model, in which practically all materials can be reused and become part of a new value chain. The online training is available in Spanish and Portuguese free of charge.



Sector Skills Alliances




1. The Assets+ project with €4 million contribution from Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliances action is developing from 2020 to 2023 training and related activities for upskilling and reskilling in the area of new emerging technologies to build a sustainable human resources supply chain for the defence sector. More info



Marie Curie Actions




1. The Horizon 2020 funded project GraWiToN supported 9 Marie-Curie Actions fellows to contribute to the preparation of the data on gravitational waves. This work led to the Nobel Prize in Physics.



Horizon Europe




1. The PERSEUS project on improving skills and knowledge base in European Aviation was funded by Horizon 2020 to better meet the needs of the aerospace sector for highly skilled workforce and to enhance the mobility of aerospace students and professionals across Europe.



Attractiveness raising




1. Thales takes women equality, diversity and inclusion seriously. The company’s targets are 40% of women in recruitment, 30% of women in management positions and 3 women members of the Management Board. To ensure these targets are met and attract more women, the company is involved in a number of initiatives, such as “Elles bougent” for reinforcing women representation in industrial and technological sectors, “L’usine nouvelle” in organising industry awards for women, “Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society”, and presenting professional profiles during numerous “rallye de pépites bordelaise” in the city of Bordeaux. Thales runs also own initiatives such as “Diversity & Inclusion”, mentoring programmes, “Diafora” and “WiTn” – We in Thales networking. 


2. Aviation Valley in Poland supports the regional and national aerospace industry by bringing together industry, scientific research centres and education and training facilities. To make the aerospace industry attractive, a Technical University was created for children of 6-7 years old where they use learning by playing on serious topics, such as the principle of jet engine. The university is nowadays so popular that competition for admission is becoming fierce. 


3. Saab works in a variety of ways to increase the participation of female students in STEM subjects and ultimately have successful careers in the engineering industry. To support this, for example Saab Australia offers a “Women in Engineering” Scholarship in electrical/electronics, computer science, software, or mechatronics designed to encourage and empower women who are passionate about advanced technology. Whereas, Saab Sweden regularly invites young women to meet with its female engineers. This creates role models and inspires more young women to become engineers and hopefully company’s employees.


4. WISE is a community interest company in the UK that aims to increase the proportion of women entering STEM sectors through a variety of activities including aiding companies with attracting young women to the field, offering training through courses and workshops, and organising conferences and workshops.



Skills mobility and employment facilitation




1. Technishe Hochschule Ingolstand – THI in Bavaria offers companies and students Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, including in mechatronics, mechanical engineering and aeronautical engineering, as a dual course of study, i.e. combining practical and academic periods. This model enables students to gain both practical and academic skills and exposes them to the defence industry – Airbus and MBDA are participating among others. Bachelor’s/Master’s theses are usually written within the company ensuring direct relevance to industry.


2. Upon agreements between local authorities, academia and industry, a project undertaken by the Lycée Professionnel Arnaut Daniel from Riberac, combined its bachelors in marine studies with apprenticeships in companies and military, maritime and naval training. Through internships in naval and marine schools, they are opening up possibilities for employment contracts of their graduate engineers in the national navy. 



Coordination and mechanisms for building skills




1. The Dutch government, the national defence and technological industrial base and knowledge institutions jointly constitute the Triple Helix, a dynamic platform for initiatives and interaction to help bring new technologies into the defence sector. This close collaboration reinforces the innovative capability of the entire defence and security sector, which is vital for the MoD to stay one step ahead of evolving threats.


2. Bringing industry and education together, the Airbus Global University Partner Programme (AGUPP) connects a global network of universities to develop engineering and technology specialists of the future.


3. The Global Workforce Forecast (GWF) is a study launched by Airbus in 2018 having the ambition to show and analyse the evolution of populations in the world and workforce within Airbus. The ambition is to provide all employees with relevant data, information and analysis to better understand, anticipate and prepare the evolution of their skills. The GWF is accessible to all, as similar trends can be observed for the Aerospace & Defence sector – or even the manufacturing industry – as a whole. Airbus is committed to exchanging with other partners to refine this model and have a better and common view of the future skills needs and capabilities evolutions worldwide. 


4. Assets+, an EU-funded project on skills in defence technologies, groups industry, academia and national training organisations to develop common training and related activities for upskilling and reskilling in the area of new and emerging technologies for the needs of the European defence sector.


5. The European Defence Skills Partnership (EDSP) brings together industry, academia, authorities and innovation, research and vocational organisations to foster cooperation in building skills for the European defence industry.



Strategic focus and structures in support of skills




1. Cedefop is an EU agency supporting the development of European vocational education and training (VET) policies and contributes to their implementation. The agency is helping the European Commission, EU Member States and social partners to develop the right European VET policies. The Skills Panorama developed and run by the agency is a website where labour market data are translated into intelligence and insights into skill needs.


2. France competénces (France Skills) is a new national authority that since 2019 ensures the financing, regulation and improvement of the national system of vocational training and apprenticeship. Its strategic directions are determined by a four-party governance composed by the state, the regions, trade unions and personalities. 

























© Copyright Forum Europe. All rights reserved | Data Protection Notice | Cookies Policy