ACE - EX

AGRICULTURE
CIRCULAR ECONOMY - EXPERT

Co-funded by the European Union

18 06 2024

ACE-EX RESEARCH UNVEILS CRITICAL SKILLS FOR AGRICULTURE'S SHIFT TO CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Oslo, 11 June 2024 - A Step Forward for the Circular Economy in the Agricultural Sector

At the ACE-EX Project Design Meeting in Oslo partners could discuss about the presented findings of ACE-EX project first work package related with the research “The potential of circular economy practices in the agricultural sector as a booster to sustainable growth and wellbeing”. The research supports the project by identifying those areas of learning outcomes requested by agriculture companies for transforming their business model from a linear to a circular one and which are lacking from training provisions’ offers.

Moreover, we discussed about the Matrix of Learning Outcomes of Agriculture Circular Economy Expert and the training that will start being offered from April 2025.

The Training Needs of Agriculture Professionals to transform their business model from linear to circular

The research, which lasted 10 months, involved company holders, managers and employees engaged in agriculture sector, mainly oil, wine and cereals, but not only, who are active in Italy, Spain, Greece, Poland, Czechia, Norway and Ukraine.

We analysed 18 Companies in agriculture and other sectors (e.g., Cosmetics, Fruit and Berries and Biogas) located in Italy, Spain, Greece, Czechia, Norway and Ukraine, that successfully adopted a circular economy business model, highlighting the goals, the benefits and the challenges.

In each participating country, except Poland, partners recruited company executives, for a total of 36, representing the oil, cereals, and wine sectors, but also Food Production and Enterprise Public Corporations. The companies were chosen for their expertise to contribute effectively to focus groups’ objective to get the company’s experience and competence needs to develop the new courses tailored to cereals, wine and oil production sectors. This selection was aimed at pinpointing the discrepancies between current methods and optimal practices, thereby facilitating a reflective platform. The companies varied in size and operated on either a national or international scale.

We also analysed 41 Training Provisions at EQF Levels from 4 to 8, which are offered in all involved countries on “use of waste in agriculture, sustainable economy, circular economy, chemistry application and industrial application in agriculture (biopolymers), cosmetics and nutraceutical, agriculture related food industry, cereals, wine and oil”. The aim was to analyse the current training provisions within the partnership to identify gaps in learning outcomes and develop recommendations for improvements and new courses tailored to the relevant target group.

Finally, the first level results, emerged by the first qualitative stage of the research, were confirmed by 146 company holders, managers and employees located in all interested countries. The objective of this final stage was to investigate the training needs of companies operating in different sectors with experience in circular economy practices and to elaborate the consequent recommendations for the following project deliverables. The results highlight the skills that are considered key to implementing effective circular economy practices.

Key Highlights:

  • The most advanced companies in adopting the circular economy are those that integrate sustainability principles into all aspects of production and business management (holistic approach).
  • Crucial areas requested by managers, for transforming existing practices, promoting a more sustainable approach within organizations, facilitating organizational culture shift and organizational compromise are:
    • “Innovation Management”: Team Collaboration for Innovation; Fundamental Role of Innovation in Sustainability; Importance of creativity and adaptability; Leadership through the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO).
    • “Transversal Competences” (such as Interdisciplinary research skills; Project management; Lifecycle assessment; Data management; Sustainability Reporting and Systems thinking; Change management; Risk management).
    • “Organizational Compromises” (Understanding Ecosystems; Cultural Shift to Self-Management and resource optimization; Collaborative Innovation Skills; Open Management Style; Passion and Motivation for Sustainability; Engagement of Youngsters; Emotional Investment to work),
    • “Soft Skills”: Teamwork, leardership, problem solving, creativity, planning, critical and analytical thinking , organizational skills, people management.
  • Other topics requested by managers, are:
    • “Energy Efficiency”
    • “Implementing new business model”
    • “Regulatory Frameworks”
    • “Technical skills”
    • “Circular economy principles” and Sustainability.
  • Best learning methods are those that facilitate flexibility, adaptability with personal, family and professional compromises, enhance experiential learning through hands-on training, using case studies, best practices and benchmarking and are Inquiry-base, in order to stimulate critical and analytical thinking, systems thinking, learn to learn, complex problem solving and interdisciplinary collaboration with research institutions.
Erina Guraziu
Erina Guraziu, OpenCom (IT)
Rolf Aslaksrud Kristiansen
Rolf Aslaksrud Kristiansen, Euromasc (NO)
Carmen Fusilli
Carmen Fusilli, ITS New Life Technologies Foundation (IT)

Next Steps for the ACE-EX Project

The research results are a key guide for the next steps of the ACE-EX project, which will continue to work to ensure that the skills acquired improve the employability of individuals and the operational efficiency of farms, promoting sustainable growth and widespread adoption of circular economy practices.

Conclusion

The presentation of the research results at the Oslo meeting marks an important step for the ACE-EX project and the future of the circular economy in the agricultural sector. Stay tuned for further updates and to find out how these results will influence the next project activities.

For more details, keep following our communications on the ACE-EX project.

The Consortium

Project applicant

ITS Nuove Tecnologie per la vita (IT)

Partners

OpenCom (IT) – University of Thessaly (EL) – Cámara Valencia (ES) – AINIA (ES)
NTI-MMM (NO) – WIAB (AT) – Softcare Studios (IT) – Patrimonio Natural de Catilla y León (ES) – Waste Management and Recycling Cluster (PL) – National Qualification Agency (UA) – Fthiotida Chamber (EL) – Confagricoltura (IT) – Euromasc (NO)
European Chemical Regions Network (BE) – SPŠCHI (CZ) – Fagskolen (NO) – IES Federico García Lorca (ES)
KhNU of Economics (UA)

ACE-EX
Agricultura Circular Economy Expert

Project nr. 101110547

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