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Empowering the Future: a recap of EIT Food's educational online workshops for polish students

On March 19 and 21, EIT Food, in collaboration with Studio Potencjału, hosted the "Get competences of the future with EIT Food!" online workshops that aimed to prepare students across various educational levels for future agrifood workplace challenges by focusing on key skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and leadership.

02 Apr 2024
EIT Food North & East

The core of the Workshop

This year's workshop "Get competences of the future with EIT Food!" has delved into the essence of building a competent future workforce in the agrifood sector. Pivotal to the sustainability of our planet and the health of its inhabitants, agrifood sector is on the brink of transformative change driven by innovation and technology. The focus on critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and leadership is not arbitrary but a carefully chosen foundation intended to address the unique challenges and opportunities within the agri-food sector.

Why are these competencies crucial? The agri-food sector is navigating complex challenges: climate change, food security, and the transition to sustainable practices. Solutions require not only technical knowledge but also the ability to think critically about multifaceted problems, communicate effectively across diverse stakeholders, and lead initiatives that drive real impact. The workshops equipped participants with these essential skills, fostering an environment where innovative solutions can emerge to drive the sector forward.

The audience of the Workshop

The workshop targeted postgraduate and doctoral students in agricultural and food sciences, aiming to equip them with practical skills beyond academic knowledge. This focus was intended to prepare these students, who are key to research and innovation, for leadership roles in transforming the agri-food sector into a more sustainable and resilient industry.

The program emphasized critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and leadership skills, bridging the gap between theoretical learning and real-world application. This approach represents a strategic investment in nurturing the future leaders of the agri-food sector, ensuring they have the comprehensive skills needed to drive innovation and address the sector's challenges.

Workshop themes and developed competencies

The "Gain competencies of the future with EIT Food!!" workshop focused on critical competencies:

Day 1: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills with a focus on sustainable food systems, introducing tools for critical analysis and fostering creative solutions through methods like Brainstorming and Mental Contrasting.

Day 2: Leadership Skills and Effective Communication

Improving leadership and communication skills necessary for team management and driving sectoral change, covering the essence of leadership, active listening, overcoming communication barriers, and developing conflict resolution strategies.

The Workshop offered a platform for interaction with experts, emphasizing the development of future leaders and innovators for the global landscape. EIT Food and Studio Potencjału's efforts in providing these learning opportunities highlight the critical role of proactive learning and adaptability in addressing the evolving world's challenges.

Participant demographics

The "Gain competences of the future with EIT Food!!" workshop was attended by a total of 79 participants.

The gender distribution among attendees was significantly skewed, with women making up 83% of the participants, while men represented 17%.

This demographic data highlights a strong female interest and participation in advancing skills pertinent to the agricultural and food sectors, reflecting a positive trend towards diversity and inclusivity in these critical fields.

Teaching strategy and tools used

The teaching strategy of the "Gain competencies of the future with EIT Food!!" workshops emphasized the practical application of theoretical knowledge through hands-on problem-solving and skill development. Utilizing case studies and work forms relevant to the agri-food sector, the workshops encouraged real-world application of learned methods:

  • Day 1 Case Study: Addressed an unhealthy school canteen, where participants developed a healthy menu, emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Day 2 Case Study: Focused on resolving a conflict within a health juice company, Green Corner, enhancing leadership and communication skills.

Interactive exercises on Zoom enabled group discussions, collaboration, and solution development, enriching participants' learning experience by improving teamwork, communication, and leadership skills, and preparing them for agri-food sector challenges.

Learning Outcomes

Participants of the "Gain competencies of the future with EIT Food!!" workshop benefited significantly, acquiring skills and insights valuable across various aspects of their lives. Key outcomes included:

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking:

    Attendees learned to critically analyze complex problems, an essential skill across all industries, particularly vital in the rapidly evolving agricultural and food sectors.
  • Practical Leadership and Communication Skills:

    The workshop provided practical knowledge on leadership and effective communication, including active listening and conflict resolution, preparing students for successful team and project management.
  • Innovative Solutions:

    Engaging in case studies related to the agri-food sector, students devised creative solutions to real-world challenges, fostering innovation and sustainable practices.
  • Collaboration and Teamwork:

    The group-based activities promoted collaboration, underscoring the importance of diverse perspectives and teamwork in achieving shared objectives.
  • Career Preparedness:

    Tailored for agricultural and food sciences students, the workshops enhanced participants' readiness for their future careers, emphasizing the importance of key sector-specific skills.
  • Awareness of Sector Challenges:

    Students gained insight into the agri-food sector's challenges, including sustainability and food security, preparing them to lead future solution development.

Overall, the workshops provided a holistic educational experience, preparing participants to positively impact the agri-food sector and beyond.

Workshop Facilitator

The sessions were led by a business psychocompetency trainer and founder of Studio Potencjału™ - Robert Szczepaniak, specializing in unlocking professional potential. His approach integrated emotional intelligence, psychology, neuroscience, and business insights, offering a comprehensive learning experience that prepared participants for future professional success.

Lear more about Studio Potencjału here.

Promotion of EIT RIS Fellowships Action Line

The event also highlighted the EIT Food RIS Fellowships programme, encouraging students to pursue international internships within the food industry, and offering a gateway to practical, hands-on experience.

The application process to the programme closed on March 24 with 580 submitted applications!

Learn more about RIS Fellowships and the next steps of the recruitment process here.

Concluding Insights

The "Gain competencies of the future with EIT Food!!" workshop has set a benchmark for future-focused education in the agrifood sector, underscoring the importance of:

  • Bridging the gap between academic education and industry needs.
  • Equipping future leaders with a holistic skill set encompassing both soft skills and industry-specific knowledge.
  • Fostering an environment of innovation, collaboration, and sustainability to address the global challenges facing the agri-food sector.

In essence, that workshop serves as a vital step toward preparing a new generation of professionals capable of leading the agri-food sector towards a more sustainable, efficient, and equitable future.

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