Partners from 6 European countries came together under the heading of the ToolsForSkills project with a view to improving professional and language skills among European Forest Machine Operators. Building on past-funded developments, partners targeted the development of a series of learning outcomes and associated training tools and materials for use in different partner countries, as well as a multilingual Forest Workers’ Glossary, the latter presented separately in the WBL Toolkit.
A core deliverable in training terms was the interactive Forest Worker's Online Training Tool (FWOTT) aimed at simultaneously delivering vocational and English-language skills to those working as Forest Machine Operators. The resultant FWOTT consists of 21 Chapters in which there are 48 separate lessons, divided across the headings of Basic Knowledge and Practical Production. Individual lessons comprise an introductory section followed by practical exercises, case studies and glossary practice sessions. Vocabulary building is assisted by raw and spaced repetition exercises, with trainees encouraged to think creatively and to develop and share their own mnemonics.
There are clear benefits to the delivery of vocational and English-language learning simultaneously, specifically in terms of securing the required understanding of often-complex manuals and guides for the use of forest machinery but also in terms of facilitating communication in multinational sites and multinational workforces. The training tool has the potential to support initial VET programme delivery, work-based or site-based learning as well as self-directed learning. The work-based nature of the tool is also notably important and language use builds on the development of a related Forest Workers’ Glossary (separately included in the WBL Toolkit). Users can select from 15 additional languages (Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek, French, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish and Swedish) which they can then pair with English to facilitate the simultaneous learning process. In terms of access, the tool can be accessed online, including via smartphones and tablets, the latter positive in terms of ensuring continued access.