"Skilled-Up" Final Conference
The “Covid-19” pandemic has impacted the implementation of project activities; however, the trainings continue in online format in all three Baltic States and further activities will also take place online:
16.09.2021 – project final conference in Riga, Latvia (partly live, partly online). The event flyer is available here.
Register here for the final conference.
More information will follow!
Training Updates from Estonia
Congratulations to the newly graduated participants of the second training group "The first level manager in the wood processing sector" at Võru County Vocational Training Centre in Väimela in Estonia! As their final project participants prepared three cat houses, which were donated to Võru Shelter.
We are glad about the feedback, that Skilled-Up / Skills for Baltic Wood Industry is really filling a gap in the conventional education system.
Thanks a lot to Astrid Org for taking care of the project in Estonia!
“Skilled-Up” Student Mobilities Online Part II
In the second part of "Skilled-Up" online student mobility participants found out about innovations and sustainability measures of Baltic wood-processing companies! Thanks to the speakers – Hille Lillemägi (Furniture Cluster of South-East Estonia), Remo Allikas (Võru Empak), Gatis Ķepītis (Latvijas Finieris), Egidijus Mockus (VMG CORP), Fredi Kaasik (Thermory), Audrius Čičirka (Freda), Samanta Garbenčiene (SBA Home)!
After the presentations participants worked together in groups to analyse and brainstorm which green skills and technologies are/can be used in the future at their companies! Thanks to Karolis Proscevičius (Green Energy) for moderation of workshops and Mantas Kazlauskas (1Vienintelis) for technical preparation and moderation of the event!
Video recording is available here.
“Skilled-Up” Student Mobilities
Today the first part of "Skilled-Up" online student mobility took place! The pandemic did not allow us to meet live but we still managed to find out lots of interesting information about wood- processing industry in Baltics! Thanks to our speakers - Eugenija Novicki-Bittner (AHK) Giedrius Pilkis (Association of Wood Producers and Exporters of West Lithuania), Artūrs Bukonts (Latvian Association of Wood-processing Entrepreneurs and Exporters), Hille Lillemägi (Furniture Cluster of South-East Estonia), Henrik Välja (Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association), Giedrius Gecevičius and Vytautas Čapas (Kauno Kolegija), Kārlis Pugovičs (Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies) and Astrid Org (Võrumaa Kutseharisduskeskus, Tsenter)! Thanks to all participants and see you on 19.05.2021!
Presentations from the event:
G. Pilkis “Lithuanian Wood and Furniture Industry”
K. Pugovičs: “Skilled-Up”project in Latvia
A. Org: “Skilled-Up” project in Estonia
Project Progress in Lithuania
Find out more about “Skilled-Up” training program at Kauno Kolegija in the video below!
Feedback from Training Participants in Latvia
"Skilled-Up gave me the opportunity to become more competent and competitive in my field. I have acquired knowledge that already helps me to do my job at a higher level. This program provided me with information about woodworking in Latvia and the world in general, as well as new communication skills, great experience in knowing and analyzing different types of people. My employer is definitely a winner too, because now there is a much more knowledgeable and professional leader in the team.”
Ingus Freibergs, Latvijas Finieris
"Compared to the classic type of university, the “Skilled-Up” experience is different and modern. In this program, teachers show both theoretically and practically how processes work in a company. For me personally, it has strengthened the belief that the right answers come from a combination of proven knowledge and a modernly adapted approach, relevant and well-thought-out calculation."
“I am a timber purchasing specialist, and in my professional activity I have understood that to do my job well, it is necessary to have a perfect knowledge of woodworking processes. This program has given me the opportunity to assess and understand how many processes and elements are interrelated in woodworking, not only from the technological process, which I already know, but also from the financial, administrative and management fields.
I have acquired knowledge and competencies that will help not only me, but also my company to be more competitive.”
Kristaps Vēzis, SIA “MARKO KEA“
“In the "Skilled-Up" project, four days a month, we have stepped out of our daily routine, we have agreed to gain new knowledge, and to strengthen the existing ones. However, the big bonus or the most significant benefit is the mutual communication, exchange of experience and learning from so many different sub-sectors of wood-processing industry and so many different cases and situations. For me as a representative of the Latvian Forest Industry Federation, it is a great opportunity to be with companies in the industry and their leaders, practitioners, to learn from them and with them, as well as to remind them that the representation and changes in the industry are possible thanks to them, their participation in associations and issues relevant to the industry.”
Ieva Erele, Latvian Forest Industry Federation
“Skilled-Up” Project Manager Meets Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania
AHK representatives and “Skilled-Up” project manager Eugenija Novicki- Bittner participated in a meeting with Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sports represented by Deputy Minister Dr. Agnė Kudarauskienė. In this meeting participants discussed “Skilled- Up” project and agreed that Deputy Minister Dr. Agne Kudarauskienė or another representative of the Ministry will attend project final Conference in Riga on 16.09.2021. Moreover, further strengthening of educational programs on European Qualification level 5 In Lithuania was discussed. We are happy to inform important stakeholders about our project and develop further cooperation!
Skilled-Up Project Presentation in Lithuania
Today we had the possibility to share the information about our project with VET teachers and company representatives in Lithuania! Eugenija Novicki-Bittner from German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce presented the project and project results, Arvydas Urbis from the Association of Wood Producers and Exporters of West Lithuania presented the new tendencies and necessary competencies in the wood industry and Vytautas Čapas from Kauno kolegija shared the insights in the training program.
Thanks to the presenters and participants for the interesting event!
Presentations from the event are available here:
Best Practice Experience Exchange with Lehrinstitut Rosenheim e.V.
Today Skilled-Up project partners and teachers of educational institutions met online with German partners Lehrinstitut Rosenheim e.V. to exchange best practice regarding the organization of education programs in wood industry. Thanks to CEO of Lehrinstitut Rosenheim Peter Hörr for the interesting presentations and to participants for their questions and discussion!
The presentation on "German education system for professional training" is available here.
The presentation on "Further Education (FE) for technical jobs (master craftsman) in Germany" is available here.
Employers and Participants about Skilled-Up Training Program
Continuous Staff Development is Important
Mida Kalvaitienė, Head of the Personnel and Occupational Safety and Health Department at Theca Furniture UAB, Lithuania
Theca Furniture is a Danish-owned upholstered furniture manufacturer with about 800 specialists in various fields and profiles, from tailors and upholsterers to designers, accountants, and staff specialists.
The company pays special attention to the quality of its’ products and production efficiency, in addition, during 2021 the company intends to create more than 300 new jobs in Lithuania. Therefore, the competence of employees in all areas is very important for the company, and I believe that the main task of the head of the personnel and occupational safety and health department is to ensure that the company's products are manufactured only by employees of appropriate competence.
In my opinion, the competences of employees must be constantly raised, using various methods: rotating employees, allowing them to participate in lectures, observing processes, the work of other employees and providing an opportunity to share experiences with employees of other companies. Therefore, the company participates in various initiatives and projects, one of which is Skilled-up.
Participation in the Skilled-up training program has paid off for our company. Our employee, working in the company as an upholsterer, gained both theoretical and practical knowledge in various aspects related to production: quality management, communication, raw material supply chain, occupational safety and health and environmental protection. The employee especially appreciates the unique opportunity provided by the Skilled-up training program to meet employees of other companies and share experiences.
I sincerely hope that the program will continue and that other Theca Furniture employees will have the opportunity to participate.
Development of a New Brand
Martin Lõkov, product designer and owner of Darkenergy OÜ, Estonia
The program is very useful. It covers a wide range of necessary topics and aspects in the respective industry. Our lecturers are all very professional, you just enjoy attending these lectures. But the magic part is making new friends and finding business partners.
The only drawback is one missing day in the work week. One impressive turnout is that TSENTER (VET provider) is interested in me giving lectures about product design to entrepreneurs and students. The second and even more important result of this program is an established partnership between me and Kase Furniture OÜ (one of the participants in the Skilled-up program). At this point we have a new brand developed, two new products ready to launch soon and a few products in late development stages. And this is just the beginning of our partnership.
This program should definitively be extended in every possible way and expanded to other segments and industries. In my case it has been a miraculous catalyst for my business strivings. The Skilled-Up program has brought in a huge amount of designer work and provided possibilities that I could not have dreamt of before entering this program.
Hannes Kail, design & sales at Aruut OÜ, Estonia
This program is definitely very useful. Both in terms of knowledge and local social life. We gain a lot of new knowledge and acquaintances in our field.
I cannot point out any disadvantages - there are none. There are many advantages - this training opens your eyes and provides new knowledge. It helps me to refresh what I learned before. The center has very modern equipment and very good teachers.
This program needs to be expanded, there is a great shortage of trained workers in our field. There could and will certainly be other programs in other industries. For example, in the metal industry, in the food industry. The experiences of the other participants broaden the horizon and help to rethink.
Gathering New Know-how
Mindaugas Naujokaitis, Participant of the Skilled-Up Training Program, Lithuania
“I like this program not only because it expands the circle of acquaintances, but also because I acquire a lot of new knowledge,” he emphasizes. The negative aspect, what he mentions is, that because of Covid-19 pandemic the lectures take place online and sometimes there are technical difficulties.” Nevertheless, the Skilled-up training program fully lives up to Mindaugas expectations: “I expected to gather new know-how and qualifications and that did indeed happen. I find it is for me now easier to communicate with managers.” About his future after the completion of the program he is still undecided: “I see two possibilities. The first is to find a job as a production manager or furniture designer, and the second is to start my own business,” says Mindaugas.
"Skilled-Up" training program on Latvian television
Latvian project partners Artūrs Bukonts (CEO of Latvian Association of Woodworking Entrepreneurs and Exporters) and Sigita Liše (Head of the Department of Woodworking, Faculty of Forestry, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies) participated in the program “Master. Land. Country.” on Latvian TV Channel Rīga 24 and informed wider audiences about the training program and possibilities to participate.
Video recording is available here.
Interviews with Employers in the “Baltic Business Quarterly”
Spring 2021 Issue
In the new issue of the business magazine “Baltic Business Quarterly” you can read more about the project in an interview with employers of Latvian companies participating in the “Skilled-Up” training program (05.02.2021)
The article is available here:
The online version of the whole magazine is available here:
Participating Latvian Companies about Skilled – Up Training Program
Gain more competent managers!
Gatis Eglītis, Executive Director of SIA IKTK
"Thanks to the Skilled-up program we will have more competent managers who will have a much better understanding of the processes in the company and will be able to manage production. During this program, we trained two first level managers who both have a great deal of practical work experience but no background in wood processing. The Skilled-up program is not a classical education, but it is aimed at acquiring practical skills and sharing experiences, which is also a great advantage of the program. Training the employees in Skilled-up is also an investment in the future and competitiveness of the company. Although there is always a risk that a well-trained employee will leave the company, I believe that the risk is even greater if you do not train the employees and they stay in the company. I can only say that both managers who participate in the Skilled-up training program have already proposed several novelties which they have seen in an exchange of experiences in other companies. This is also proof of what this training and education program brings."
Andrejs Domkins, Production Manager of SIA IKTK
"In almost in every part of the program, we have worked practically and have been able to prove ourselves. In this way, we have experienced and learned new things. I found the visits to other companies particularly useful because they gave me new ideas. The communication with the other first level managers gave me the opportunity to look at the same problem from several angles and to find different solutions."
Divisional manager expands his knowledge
Andris Koris, Member of the Board of SIA Konto
Andris Koris, Member of the Board of SIA Konto
“We have trained one of our employees Gatis Kļaviņš with the Skilled-up program. He has been working in our company for 18 years and was promoted to the position of production manager two years ago. He had gained prior knowledge in wood processing in the technical school of Cesis.
The main benefit of participating in this program is that, after the training, Gatis always talks with interest about what he has heard, seen, and learned. This already proves that the training is interesting and useful. I do not think you can measure everything in numbers only. I very much hope that after this training the new managers will have fewer unfamiliar terms, more contacts, more insight into the processes and more courage to face all production challenges. I also very much hope that the theoretical knowledge gained will give them more conviction and strengthen them as leaders in their teams.
Employees are trained to become better managers
Gunita Meiere, Head of the Personnel Development Service of AS “Latvijas Finieris”
Gunita Meiere, Head of the Personnel Development Service
The training program is based on the German experience, adapted to the needs of the Baltic wood industry. There are basics of work-based education in Latvia, however, the approach of the mentioned program is different. In Latvia, a young person first finds a school, which then looks for an employer to train the young person in the work environment. In turn, the German approach is that the employer offers the employee to acquire additional professional knowledge, which is necessary for the successful performance in a particular position (for example, a manager). It is undeniable that the motivation to learn of a person who has already found his / her job and profession, has proven himself / herself and wants to grow professionally is many times higher than those who have not yet worked in the respective job. We have involved four employees in this training program. However, the employer must consider that these four people study twice a week and therefore must plan who will replace them during this time.
Existing or future first-level managers need extensive knowledge not only of production processes, but also of many other areas. An exchange of experience with colleagues from Lithuania and Estonia during the training program was also planned, but this may not be the case during Covid-19 pandemic. I am convinced that after completing this training program, existing or future first-level managers will be at a much higher level, which will benefit both themselves and the company. The second goal of this program was to develop a training program and accredit it in an educational institution, thus making the project accessible to a much wider range of stakeholders. Currently, the whole pilot project is based on wood-processing, but in the future, this valuable experience may be used in other sectors.
Knowledge - a precondition for increasing competitiveness
Andis Araks, Managing Director of SIA “Krauzers”
Andis Araks, Managing Director
Expanding the knowledge and raising the qualification of managers is a precondition for increasing competitiveness in the whole company.
Andis Araks, Chairman of the Board of SIA “ Krauzers”, sees such benefits in the perspective of training two employees within the framework of this program. "The benefit of the company is undoubtedly the opportunity to increase the knowledge and qualifications of its employees, which in turn will be able to use the acquired knowledge for better performance of duties and improvement of various processes," A. Araks answers the question of the benefits of this training program. He recognizes that in today's world, knowledge plays a crucial role in both productivity (efficiency) and resource saving, because everything is based on work organization, where nuances play a crucial role. A. Araks positively evaluates the offered educational program. "It was a great opportunity to learn various topics in depth, to expand knowledge, which can later be used to improve various processes within the company," explains A. Araks. He emphasizes that it was possible to exchange experiences during the practical classes, by visiting various leading companies in his field: " Practical classes mainly took place at the time when companies related to the topic were visited and they were mainly connected with the production process, which allowed to better understand the topic."
Training Updates from Estonia
The second Skilled- Up project training group started on 10.09.20 in Võru, Estonia. 14 participants from 11 different companies began their training course “The first level manager in wood processing sector".
Meanwhile, the first group finished their training on 2.10.2020. As a final project the participants prepared doll houses which were presented as gifts to local kindergartens. We are happy about positive feedback from participants and wish them good luck!
Skilled-Up in the “Baltic Business Quarterly”
In the new issue of the business magazine “Baltic Business Quarterly” you can read more about the project in an interview with Artūrs Bukonts, Managing Director at LKUEA, Astrid Org, Manager at “Tsenter” and Dr. Giedrius Gesevičius, Dean of the Faculty of Technology at Kauno Kolegija.
The interview is available here:
Online version if the whole magazine is available here:
“Skilled-Up” Project Presented at Online Discussion “Work-based Learning in Higher Education”
On 2.07.2020 representatives of employers and educational institutions discussed implementation possibilities of work-based learning in higher education in an online discussion organised by Employers’ Confederation of Latvia.
Dr. silv. Sigita Liše from our project partner organisation Latvian University of Life Sciences and Technology presented “Skilled-Up” project developments und further planned activities. The recording of the discussion is available here:
Erasmus + Project Partner Online Meeting
Project partner meeting on 23.03.2020 had to take place online due to the “Covid-19” pandemic. However, the meeting went well, and partners were able to discuss the planned agenda – progress of training in all three Baltic countries and future plans.
In all three countries the piloting of the training program has started in autumn 2019. Each country has managed to pilot one module and start the second. Feedback from training program participants and their employers has been very positive. Participants are satisfied with training program contents and work-based learning.
Currently, the training in all three countries is paused due to the pandemic. However, project partners are working on possible solutions in the time of crisis and planning activities for the next project period including continuation of the training program and start of student mobilities.
The Training has started
Training starts at Kauno Kolegija, Lithuania. Copyright: Ugne Capa
In October 2019, the training program “Production Management in Woodworking” was launched in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Two thirds of the training will take place in companies in each country, as well as during mobility visits to companies in other Baltic states. Participants of the first trainings are 50 representatives of different manufacturing companies. They will be piloting the program for the next two years so that it can meet the educational needs of the industry and become available to a wider audience.
Copyright: Kauno Kolegija
Copyright: Võrumaa Vocational Education Center
Erasmus + Project Partner Meeting in Vaimela, Estonia
From 6 to 7 June 2019, the Skilled-UP project partners met in TSENTER, the competence center for woodworking and furniture manufacturing, in Vaimela, Estonia. Purpose of the meeting was the further development of the modular curriculum for the advanced training program for technical employees of the woodworking industry. Preliminary results were discussed, content adjusted, and next steps decided.
The training will consist of the following 10 modules: Industrial Design; Industrial Technology; Communication Methods; Operational Cost; Business management; Workplace Safety and Environmental Protection; Planning, Control and Communication Systems; Leadership and Personnel Development; People Management and the Qualification Project. From September 2019, the first modules will be launched in the partner countries. We are happy to receive inquiries from companies interested in this further education.
Please contact us at for more information!
Project Kick-Off Meeting in Rosenheim & Follow-Up Meeting in Riga
There have already been two meetings of the project partners of the project "Skilled-Up": from 15 to 16 January 2019 to the kick-off meeting in the German city of Rosenheim, as well as to the follow-up meeting on 22 February in Riga, Latvia. During the meetings, the partners discussed the first steps and concrete content and structural topics for the development of the work-based learning program (WBL) at level EQF 5 in the woodworking industry. Over the next few months, local expert groups from the respective project partner countries will meet to develop the module descriptions and content for the curriculum.