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NRO grant awarded to a research project by UG professor Jacques Zeelen

15 July 2019

With the allocation of a grant of € 464,000, professor Jacques Zeelen (Globalisation Studies, University of Groningen) can continue the research with his research group Lifelong Learning for the next three years.

Jacques Zeelen
Jacques Zeelen (L) together with one of his researchers (R) on a working visit at DSM in Emmen

Education and industry

Professions and positions are developing. This applies, to a large extent, to the technology sector where there are challenges in the field of energy transition and the widespread digitalization in combination with increasingly complex requirements when it comes to technical skills. Within the ongoing research project Sustainable Technical Craftsmanship (TTV) young people are trained in this technical sector. The participating companies in this project are very pleased with the young talent that will emerge from it, but also indicate that the existing staff must be trained and retrained in order to deal with the new technological, digital and communication challenges. The companies are looking for ways to assist their employees in acquiring relevant new skills. At the same time, vocational colleges try to prepare their students for changing qualification requirements and students / employees must find their way as (prospective) professionals in this dynamic.

These challenges are central to the research project to which the newly acquired grant will go: 'Lifelong Learning in Companies'. The parties involved combined forces in a consortium that works together on training and guidance programmes for future-proof technical specialists.


This consortium, led by Jacques Zeelen, consists of representatives from three Vocational Colleges (Alfa College, Drenthe College and Noorderpoort), representatives from five companies (DSM Engineering Plastics; Energiewacht; De Groot Installatiegroep; Harwig Installatietechniek; en SSPB Praktijkcentrum Bouw) and researchers from the University of Groningen. They will work together for three years to ultimately come up with innovative approaches to further develop the skills of existing employees. These will initially be useful for the companies involved, but the research also seeks exemplary value for other companies that have similar questions. That is why the consortium is assisted by an Advisory Board, consisting out of various technical experts in the region from industry, education and provincial policy bodies, as well as the sector organisation OTIB.

NRO Subsidy

The National Directorate for Educational Research (NRO) is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and is working on improving and renewing education. The NRO does this by coordinating and financing educational research, and by improving the connection between practice and research. The research proposal "Lifelong Learning in Companies" of this new consortium is focusing on that connection, making use of the positive experiences of the current TTV project.

Lifelong learning

The Lifelong Learning research group has been researching the link between vocational education and the labour market for many years. This happens both in the region and in developing countries, such as Uganda. In the group, researchers from Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG) work together with researchers from the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences (General Pedagogy). The aforementioned Sustainable Technical Craftsmanship (TTV) project has been set up with partners from outside the university, the Alfa College and four companies from the region. In this project, research and innovation go together in the design, implementation and evaluation of a new training course for "Technician engineering installation & electrical engineering" (MBO 4). The project has been inspired by the experiences of the WOS project (Workforce Opportunity Services) in New York, in close collaboration with Columbia University. The TTV project is made possible through subsidies from the Provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, as well as the branch organisation OTIB.

Jacques Zeelen

Jacques Zeelen is Professor of Lifelong Learning and Social Intervention at Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG), an interfaculty institute located within the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. He also holds the (part-time) UNESCO chair "Lifelong Learning, Youth and Work" at Gulu University in Uganda.

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Last modified:23 July 2019 10.56 a.m.
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