Seek and you shall find. While easily said, the search for a suitable continuing professional training programme is still difficult. What tools can make a change to find a perfect fit in a huge and heterogeneous continuing education market? The INVITE innovation competition aims to find answers to this question, with the help of artificial intelligence.

‘With INVITE, we want to increase the user-friendliness of continuing education platforms’, said Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek at the announcement of the 16 winning projects on 22 February 2021. ‘We want to make it easier to find individually suitable offers in the currently still disorganised continuing education market, increase learning platform transparency and quality, and expand the range of individualised, AI-supported continuing education offers.’

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the innovation competition INVITE, digital platform for continuing vocational education and training, in April 2020 with total funding of around EUR 35 million. One of the funding criteria is that all developments must be self-supporting in the long term beyond the project funding. INVITE addresses three fields of development:

  • projects that connect existing continuing education platforms;
  • projects that increase the quality of continuing education platforms, for example by recommending personalised continuing education offers;
  • projects that develop AI-supported continuing education offers, making individualised learning possible, for example by also taking into account game elements.

Parallel to the projects in the development fields, and interlinked with them, a meta-project is being funded. Based on applied research, this will produce standards and recommendations for action for the design of an innovative digital continuing education space.

The call was open to training providers and operators of digital training platforms, as well as institutions with expertise in digitalisation, especially AI. In the first stage, a project outline was submitted. After a positive technical assessment with the participation of external experts, formal funding applications were invited (second stage).

More than 400 institutions participated in the competition, reaching a total of 107 project outlines. Of the 16 projects selected for funding, some focus on the development or networking of digital learning platforms, while others concentrate on specific occupational fields; examples include making offers in the crafts, in healthcare or in E-commerce more transparent and easier to find. Project funding started from 1 March 2021. The duration of the projects is up to 36 months and the accompanying research up to 42 months.

On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), BIBB is supporting the implementation of INVITE and is being assisted by VDI/VDE-IT, an external digital support organisation.

INVITE is embedded in the measures of the Federal Government's National continuing education and training strategy (NWS). The goal of this strategy is to make continuing professional training a natural part of a person's working life and to enable even more people to participate in the digital transformation.

Read more