Background

Disability impacts a large number of people – approx. 18 % of the working age population in the EU and it affects a wide range of socioeconomic outcomes. The ‘EU Pillar of social rights’ supports ‘the right to quality and inclusive education, training and LLL in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable [everyone] to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market’, as well as the right of disabled people to have access to ‘… services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs’.

The EU Disability Strategy of 2021-2030 proposes the development of inclusive, accessible VET programmes, especially on ‘closing skills gaps, notably digital skills gaps, often in cooperation with social enterprises for labour market inclusion’. Deriving from the Council Recommendation on VET, design programmes to be inclusive and accessible for vulnerable groups that simultaneously foster technical and digital skills for VET educators towards achieving transformation of the digital market, is a key priority.

‘Digitalisation and technology are changing everything, especially in schools…. Education must be involved to prepare students for the future, but these changes are so profound that it is not enough to just place an iPad in the classroom. 3D printing can completely change the way students learn and the physical tangibility of the content, learning in a special way’ ‘Horizon 2020 Summit’.

3D technologies, design, modelling and printing have a large effect on creativity and innovation and it has been identified by EU as one of the technologies that will boost the development of future products and services. The use of 3D-P in the EU industry is growing rapidly, creating new jobs that require new skills and qualifications. VET is valued for fostering jobspecific and transversal skills, facilitating the transition into employment, while maintaining and updating the skills of the workforce.

The potential of 3D technologies is enormous and is transforming how users learn by offering a hands-on experience that inspires them to pay attention to details, get more creative and see the physical realization of their work. If they are equipped with greater initiative, creativity and perseverance and if they have the ability to see opportunities where others only see problems, then this type of skills which are highly demanded in the labour market can also contribute to social change and innovation for a sustainable future.

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