Polish Technology, International Collaboration, Global Impact

August 15, 2023

There is currently a lively debate in Europe on the issue of immigration to the European Union. The largest group are inhabitants of Africa who, in search of a chance for a better life, embark on extremely dangerous journeys in search of a chance for a better life. It turns out that the biggest challenge is not just the number of refugees, but rather their lack of qualifications. Thanks to the efforts of Dig in Vision, soon highly skilled professionals may arrive on the old continent, ready to immediately take up well-paid jobs.

Welders shortage in Europe

Welding is one of the fundamental processes in construction, as well as in the shipbuilding and steel construction industry. Year by year, there is a growing deficit of welders. It is estimated that there is currently a shortage of about 400,000 qualified welders in Europe. This is the result of declining interest in vocational education among young Europeans, who see their future more in other sectors of the economy - mainly related to office work. Construction and engineering companies from the "Old Continent" are currently facing an increasingly desperate personnel situation. Fortunately, thanks to an agreement between European and African organizations, a special training program for welders and instructors, using Polish virtual reality technology, has been successfully implemented for some time.

An international effort in education for a better future for the world

Dig in Vision closely collaborates with the German government organization GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), which has been implementing projects for sustainable development, promoting education and vocational training, as well as safety and peace worldwide for over 50 years. One of the places where GIZ supports the development of vocational education from scratch is Kenya. Together with the Kenyan organization Toolkit iSkills Innovation HUB, which has been operating since 2014, they jointly carry out the mission of combating youth and female unemployment. This task is accomplished through training using the latest virtual reality technologies and certification of skills by independent partners. For over a year, Toolkit iSkills Innovation HUB, with the help of Dig in Vision software, has been providing training to hundreds of young Kenyan welders. For them, acquiring this profession practically means a ticket to Europe, opening the door to the desired life at an incredibly high standard, compared to the realities in Kenya.

African youth have meager chances of development compared to Europeans. The lack of prospects often forces them to make desperate decisions to cross into the territory of the European Union, where, without qualifications and language knowledge, they become part of roaming homeless groups or are exploited as the cheapest labor force. Initiating our training project gives them skills and a profession highly valued and sought after in Europe. Construction and shipbuilding companies in the industry warmly welcome such professionals, offering them very attractive remuneration, even by European Union standards, and, most importantly, social status guarantees that they can only dream of in Africa. 

Dual Training of instructors as the future of vocational education in Africa

The use of the Dig in Vision training platform for Kenyan welders has so far focused mainly on educating young people who can immediately take up their first job as welders in the local job market after completing the course. Recently, thanks to the cooperation between Dig in Vision and the Wrocław Welding Academy, which has been responsible for certifying welders in Europe for many years, dual training and certification of instructors in Africa has become possible. The software created by Dig in Vision enables training at two levels: the welder, who observes the process of creating welds, and the instructor, who has access to dynamic welding parameters in real-time, as well as reports summarizing the individual stages of the student's learning. This, in turn, allows for immediate improvement of the skills of the trainee. For the first time in history, thanks to Dig in Vision software, GIZ funding, and the services of Polish instructors from the Welding Academy, a program for training welders "Train the Trainers" has been launched at the Toolkit iSkills Innovation Hub in Nairobi, Kenya.

The "Train the Trainers" program focused on two main aspects: improving welding techniques and soft skills necessary for effectively transferring knowledge to others. Each participant in the program underwent a 40-hour training course based on both virtual reality and the real world. Two groups of eight worked in the following stages:

Initial sessions were based on assessing the actual level of instructors' skills. This involved examining both theoretical knowledge and individual abilities. Based on this data, separate training paths were created for each participant. The next stage consisted of three-day training sessions. They included practical exercises involving basic welding techniques (groove weld in the horizontal (1G) and vertical (3G) position, as well as a fillet weld in the overhead position (4F)), using both VR technology and real exercises on physical samples.

Effects and Conclusions after the Joint Action of Dig in Vision and the Welding Academy:

  1. Cost reduction: 90% of exercises and conducted welding trials took place in the virtual world. The remaining 10% were performed in the traditional way in real welding conditions. This distribution of work is especially effective considering the lack of physical training infrastructure and expensive training materials, which are common phenomena in Africa. To illustrate the scale of savings, let's analyze the program results. 3077 welding trials in virtual reality, when translated to one trainee, result in 170 individual trials. If they were to take place in a real environment, using physical materials, it would cost 52,000 Euros!

  1. Ecology: Based on general observations of industry trends - particularly in Europe, reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is becoming increasingly important. Thanks to virtual welding training, it is possible to reduce emissions by 70% to 90% compared to traditional training processes, depending on the proportion of virtual welding exercises used. This also represents a significant reduction in raw material consumption and gas usage in the joining process.

  1. Equal opportunities: The "Train the Trainers" program not only operates based on equal opportunities on a continental level but is also fully open to gender diversity. Women have equal access to welding training at the Toolkit Skills & Innovation Hub. The only criterion is accuracy, commitment, and attention to detail, which, as we know, are not gender-dependent traits. Furthermore, training organizers encourage women to pursue professional development and combat stereotypes surrounding "male professions." The situation in the European industry means that no company would object to female welders, as long as they possess the necessary skills and certifications.

In conclusion, the "Train the Trainers" program promoted by the Kenyan Toolkit Hub in collaboration with the German GIZ and the Polish Dig in Vision is probably the most significant milestone in filling the growing European gaps in professions such as welders. Dual training is not only more effective but also cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. It is also an opportunity to embark on a path to pursue a desirable and respected profession for both African women and men.

The article was created on the basis of the original content from forbes.pl