The InnoVET project BIRD is one of 17 projects that prevailed against a total of 176 project ideas submitted as part of the „Shaping the Future – Innovations for Excellent Vocational Education and Training“ (InnoVET) competition and thus received funding from the BMBF over the span of four years. BIRD stands for „Cross-domain educational offers for Industry 4.0 on the platform of DQR level 5 as a catalyst for permeability“ („Bereichsübergreifende Bildungsangebote für Industrie 4.0 auf der Plattform der DQR-Stufe 5 als Katalysator der Durchlässigkeit“ in german). 

The goal of the project is to develop new qualifications that will further define the profile of the advanced training level „Certified Vocational Specialist“ which was created by german Berufsbildungsgesetz. The project pursues the implementation of permeable and transferable educational and advisory offerings in vocational training and continuing education, as well as in academic education. The InnoVET project BIRD is focusing the overarching objectives of „creating equivalence“, „shaping digital change“ and „increasing training quality“ as defined in the outlines of InnoVET competition. 

BIRD takes into account the new requirements that Industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence place on vocational education and training: For example, commercial and technical qualifications will be coupled with each other after a systematic needs-assessment, from which small and medium-sized enterprises in particular should benefit. 

The individual modules follow the premise of a blended-learning-design, a learning form that combines the advantages of classroom events and e-learning. 

In addition, an overarching advisory-structure was developed across all areas of the vocational education system to meet the increased need for information and individual consultation due to permeable architecture of the educational programme. 

The educational offering is being developed by the Chair of Business Education and HR-Development at the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, headed by Prof. Dr. Karl Wilbers, together with the Nuremberg Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Central Franconia, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Upper Franconia Bayreuth and Qualitus GmbH. Further project partners are the vocational schools B2 with Rudolf-Diesel-Fachschule, the commercial vocational school B4 from Nuremberg as well as the state vocational school 1 Bayreuth with Technikerschule and the University of Bayreuth. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs enables the inclusion of the vocational schools in Nuremberg and Bayreuth. 

German trailer for informing companies:

Interesting links:


Ergebnisse des Projekts

Background: DQR level 5 and the first advanced-training level.

The InnoVET project BIRD explores the fifth level of the German Qualifications Framework. The fifth level of the German Qualifications Framework (DQR) can be equated with the first continuing-education level of the „Vocational Training Act“ (german: Berufsbildungsgesetz BBiG). A person who has successfully completed advanced training at this level may call himself or herself a „Berufsspezialist“ or „Berufsspezialistin“ (occupational specialist). Depending on the focus of the advanced training, an addition may be included in the title. The InnoVET project BIRD aims to produce professional specialists for Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence. Thus, the advanced training was given the addition „Occupational specialists for industrial transformation“.

If one compares the number of qualifications at DQR level 4 (vocational training qualification or general higher education entrance qualification) with approx. 650 qualifications and those at DQR level 6 (qualification at master craftsman, specialist level or bachelor level) with approx. 450 qualifications, one quickly realizes that the DQR level 5 is severely underrepresented in the German education landscape with only 35 qualifications.

The test occupations for which the advanced-training course is to be created are the following occupations located in the industrial sector:


  • Industrial clerk
  • Industrial-technical:

Industrial mechanic

  • Mechatronics technician

All three professions are very popular apprenticeships in Germany, and there is a strong demand for the associated continuing-training courses to become a master craftsman or business administrator. This means that the InnoVET project BIRD has the challenge to give character to this intermediate level with a further training and a new further training occupation resulting from it. The aim is to create a clear profile for the occupational specialist in the industrial sector and to provide findings for the establishment of future DQR 5 qualifications.

Occupational fields

Overall, four major occupational fields of action for industrial transformation specialists were identified. Cross-occupational training prepares both commercial and industrial/technical specialists for process management and project management. The commercial specialists will demonstrate in-depth knowledge for commercial data and process automation management, and the industrial-technical vocational specialists* will be active in setting up a digitally supported production at the manufacturing level.

Excerpt from the industrial-technical occupational profile:

Commercial-technical occupational specialists for industrial transformation survey digitization or networking possibilities of already networked or yet-to-be-networked plants and processes in their everyday activities in order to identify and propose optimization potentials and, if necessary, install them themselves after consultation with the superior or according his or her instruction. To this end, they analyze manufacturing processes the basis of their knowledge of corresponding (networking) technologies. Industrial transformation specialists carry out small-scale programming for the preparation of machine data. With a basic knowledge of programmable logic controllers, they understand and analyze data from systems that are susceptible to faults and consider which sensors need to be attached to obtain appropriate signals. Based on this, they support the planning of new hardware connections and the (re)programming of the plant. Industrial transformation vocational specialists bundle existing machine data primarily in dependence on the operational software landscape. If, for example, malfunctions, quality problems or customer complaints occur, they read the machine data with the aid of appropriate technologies and evaluate their informational content with the aid of methods suitable for this purpose. They discuss the data (e.g. in Shopfloor meetings) to derive patterns and define an improved data path to increase quality assurance or productivity. They monitor the sustainable assurance and effect of the data path defined for improvement. For this purpose, they determine appropriate criteria for impact measurement in advance. Based on this, vocational specialists understand the fundamentals of predictive maintenance and support predictive maintenance on the basis of suitable machine data management. In addition, they take on responsibility for projects across departments. In principle, they are seen as a link between skilled workers and foremen. They will be able to take on different roles depending on their previous professional training.

Excerpt from the commercial professional profile:

Commercial occupational specialists for industrial transformation work in various departments, e.g., HR, production, logistics, or sales, depending on their previous education. Depending on their department, they redesign workflows with a focus on digital transformation, using process-automation software and high-level language programming techniques. They collect and manage data, digitize and prepare it, analyze, evaluate and visualize it. To do this, they use appropriate software solutions and databases to generate new insights from the data sets and prepare them for superiors. They organize processes and upcoming projects at their operational level across both disciplines and departments. They record, analyze, differentiate, describe and visualize operational processes that are changing as a result of digitization and help to shape the optimizing changes independently and across departments. Building on this, they work in interdisciplinary projects and coordinate them as required. In doing so, they also take on manageable challenges in purely technical management. In their departmental position, they assume responsibility for driving forward and communicating changes to colleagues and trainees, in particular on Industrie 4.0 topics. They collaborate in particular with industrial-technical production. They therefore understand basic industrial-technical terminology in order to communicate smoothly in their day-to-day work as well as when special concerns arise. Basically, they are seen as a link between the skilled worker and the first strategic level (e.g. team management).

Learning Contents

The advanced training programme consists of a total of five modules, each with 100 hours. A test must be taken in four of the five modules in order to obtain the qualification of „vocational specialist for industrial transformation“. The cross-divisional advanced training programme focuses on both the industrial-technical and the commercial area. Two of the four modules are cross-occupational. Learning Content which is required in both of these occupational areas is taught in these modules. Two other modules are occupation-specific.

Digital Transformation and Cross-Interface Communication (DTK):

In this module, participants gain an overview of the possibilities of digitizing industrial business and support processes. In addition, participants learn to record, digitize and optimize operational processes that are changing as a result of digitization. Competencies in project management take on a strong weighting in this module.

Commercial work in the digital industry and technical communication (KAI):

Using programming techniques and database skills, commercially-oriented participants learn to manage company-relevant data along an operational process. In addition, the automation of processes represents an essential learning content. Participants additionally gain a basic insight into commercial-technical work.

Technical work in the digital industry and commercial communication (TAI):

Within the framework of this subject-specific module, participants in the industrial-technical area learn to analyze technical systems, to transform them digitally and to make the necessary adjustments and changes to production facilities on their own responsibility. In addition, the participants should be able to process the (machine) data obtained. For cross-departmental cooperation, they gain insight into the basics of commercial work.

Cooperation in Industrial Processes (KIP):

Participants learn to solve operational challenges in interdisciplinary teams in a way that is appropriate to the situation and to innovate operational processes in a cooperative manner. The organization of knowledge flows and the acquisition of technical management methods are additional contents in this module.

Project work in your own company (PIU):

The participants work on a self-selected project situation (real or fictitious) in their actual work environemtn. The participants document and outline the project process.

Cross-divisional curriculum design

The curriculum for the advanced training programme was designed on the basis of a continual cross-divisional needs-assessment, which was designed using a process developed specifically for this purpose. The needs of a large variety of local Companies were analyzed,structured and processed as building blocks for the development of a Curriculum. This Curriclum must take into account the didactic demands for curricular design from all active InnoVET partners (university, chambers of commerce, vocational schools), especially as the educational professionals of all partners need to be able to work with the final curriculum. Thus, a framework plan first had to be designed structurally and then filled with content. After the learning objectives were formulated on basis of the needs-assessment, this draft was reflected back to company representatives in a workshop and discussed. After incorporating the feedback, a new workshop was scheduled with representatives from science, business and vocational education in order to bring the competence level of the learning objectives into line with the requirements of the fifth level of the DQR competence structure model.

On the basis of this framework plan, an additional document was drafted – the actual curriculum. This module curriculum is seen as an extended working basis for the internal development of the further education materials by the education professionals. It contains, for example, in-depth information about the content to be taught and the taxonomies behind it.

Both the content and structure of the framework plan and the module curriculum were sharpened and revised on the basis of a further round of needs-assessments with companies through, for example, work process surveys.

Learning-location cooperation in continuing education

The training is offered jointly by several educational institutions, whereby each module is organized and carried out by one or more partners. It is important that in the organization and implementation, each partner remains in its own mode of action but at the same time, the training follows a common, coordinated concept through mutual convergence.

In Bayreuth, the advanced training takes place at the following learning locations: Chamber of Commerce Bayreuth and the federal Vocational School I Bayreuth.

In Nuremberg, the training takes place at the following learning locations: Chamber of Commerce Nuremberg, Vocational School 4 &  Vocational School 2 Nuremberg and Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Organizational questions, which will be solved jointly by all partners, relate to the timing of the modules (module periods), a joint kick-off event at the beginning of the training for the participants and the learning infrastructure (collaboration platform and learning management system). The exchange of participant information between the partners must also be managed correctly under data protection laws. Subsequently, organizational issues such as timetable creation for each module, lecturer recruitment and support, and communication with the participants are handled independently by the partners responsible for the module.

Blended learning concept in the advanced training programme

The advanced training is designed in a blended learning concept. Here, the in-person sessions are interlinked with digitally supported self-learning phases. Depending on the didactic strategy, the two modes can be used at different points, in different sequences and in different quantities within one  blended learning arrangement. For example, they can be used for preparation, completion or transfer, or as an „intermediate step“. Ideally, both event forms are in a balanced ratio (50:50) to each other.

Collaboration and communication are also important aspects of the training. They are covered both in the face-to-face events and through digital formats. Teaching and learning materials are stored centrally in a learning management system indedependent of the local context (Nuremberg or Bayreuth) and can thus be used multiple times and shared among each other.

Didactic support-materials fort he educational professionals support the conception and implementation of the blended learning arrangement.


The advanced training programme „Certified Professional Specialist for Industrial Transformation“ is a regulated advanced training course in the field of higher-qualification vocational training and is therefore subject to examination by the chambers of industry and commerce. For this newly developed advanced training without existing, nationally uniform advanced training regulations, an independent advanced training examination regulation according to § 54 BBiG was developed for the chamber districts involved in the project.

The examinations are organized and conducted by the examining chambers. The organization of the examinations by the Chambers is governed by the examination regulations. In accordance with the Vocational Training Act, the Chambers set up examination boards to conduct the examinations. The members of these boards must include an equal number of representatives of employers and employees as well as at least one teacher from a vocational school (in the area of training) or one teacher in the area of continuing education (in the area of continuing education).

The examination of the advanced training „Certified Vocational Specialist for Industrial Transformation“ is divided into 4 partial examination performances and consists of a written examination part (3 partial examinations) and a project-related examination part (1 partial examination).

Programme Evaluation

The evaluation of the advanced training programme to become a professional specialist for industrial transformation is carried out in several cycles. The Goal of the formative evaluation is to improve the interdisciplinary training in a blended learning design. In order to do justice to the special features of the training, the evaluation concept includes the two components of teaching evaluation and evaluation of the cooperation of the training personnel. The focus of the teaching evaluation is the blended learning design and the interdisciplinary implementation of the training. The analysis of the cooperation of the educational staff focuses on the team learning activities of the module teams. The evaluation uses quantitative and qualitative methods at several points in time.

Learning Concept for the educational staff

The self-learning offer for educational staff consists of 3 parts:

  • Introductory self-learning module on „What is blended learning?“: In this interactive quiz, learners engage in a motivating test scenario to assess their level of knowledge. At the same time, they can acquire valuable basic knowledge along the way through additional information that can be superimposed.This ensures that experienced users feel picked up while at the same time beginners are taught the most important things.
  • Method suitcase: This animated, interactive module presents numerous methods and media for the development of self-learning units in a concise manner.
  • Self-learning module „Designing a blended learning arrangement for BIRD“: This web-based training is intended as a step-by-step guide for designing your own blended learning arrangement.

In addition to the described self-learning offer, it is recommended to conduct an in-person training on the topic of blended learning in order to consolidate the basics. Furthermore, a meaningful, overarching blended learning concept can be developed jointly on the basis of a concrete module. At the beginning or during the module development, the educational staff receives H5P training as well as LMS training. These trainings can also be conducted in the form of live online sessions.


Weitere Informationen gibt es hier: