The maintenance and exploitation of road infrastructures is essential to maintain their viability and extend the useful life of European transport infrastructure, which strengthens the social and territorial cohesion of the European Union (EU) by promoting economic development and job creation.
To this end, having a qualified workforce in road works, in accordance with the requirements of Health and Safety is essential to increase the competitiveness and development of the construction industry, which faces the following needs:
- Improving the hazard prevention in roadworks.
- Implementing a pedagogical innovation aimed at road maintenance needs.
- Promoting the acquisition of pedagogical skills.
Training system, based on Virtual Reality, with simulation of real scenarios
In this sense, the European project VRoad aims to address the specific needs of Work-based Learning (WBL) and risk prevention in road works, through the development of a Virtual Reality (VR) training system, i.e., through a computer-generated scenario that simulates a realistic experience of specific work in the field.
In this way, the main result of the initiative is the development of a Virtual Reality application to promote training in Health and Safety in Roadworks in the European construction industry, as well as:
- A practical guide with the knowledge, skills and competences in the field of Roadworks that professionals in the sector must possess, with the aim of guaranteeing the quality and safety of the work.
- A Virtual Reality application (called VRoad) which will include virtual scenarios to support learning processes, and as a training system in risk prevention and preventive measures related to road works. Three virtual scenarios will be developed: lane closure; repair of handrails and traffic signs; and action protocol in the event of an accident.
- A didactic guide for Vocational Training (VET) teachers that will allow them to manage the VRoad application and make the most of the training system.
- A roadmap setting out the standards and steps necessary to recognise the content of the proposed training system, developed in terms of EQF (European Qualification Framework) and in accordance with the European framework and recommendations of EQAVET (European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training).
In support of these challenges, the project will have a dual objective: to create National Advisory Groups (NAGs) in each country of the consortium, as well as Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) and to implement the standard recognition process.
The work methodology will combine qualitative techniques (groups of key informants) and quantitative techniques (questionnaires and internet surveys) in order to obtain first-hand information on health and safety in civil works and, in particular, in road maintenance work.
Challenges and benefits for the industry
However, this European initiative addresses three clear challenges:
- Difficulty in learning in the workplace in real situations in this type of activities in the field of works, and especially in traditional classroom training.
- Increased demand for attractive and innovative pedagogical methodologies and tools that facilitate learning and training processes in the construction industry, especially with some groups.
- Lack of training tools and resources, including the experiential element, to facilitate learning and increase student motivation towards training, through participation in an immersion process.
The benefits of solving, at least in part, these challenges are:
- Improving the activity of vocational training providers in the construction sector to include an attractive training offer for current and potential workers in the construction sector.
- Strengthening the preventive culture of construction workers.
- Improving workers’ skills in the management and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
- And, in short, the improvement of the image of an increasingly prepared and competitive sector.