Research Project "StraKosphere"


The objective of the collaborative project 'Strategic competence development for non-research intensive small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing industry (StraKosphere)' is an initial development and practical testing of suitable and practicable tools and concepts for strategic competence development with which the skills and expertise of production employees can be shaped according to strategic company objectives and the resultant potential for process innovation can be better utilised. For this purpose a general reference methodology is developed on the basis of the specific projects of the participants that is suitable and usable across the wide range of non-research intensive small and medium-sized enterprises in the German manufacturing industry.


The interactions of demographic change and the modern world of work are giving rise to a range of challenges for companies that are required to secure the knowledge and skills necessary to them against a background of changing technologies and market conditions and a demographically heterogeneous workforce. A key role arises here for company competence management; an extra-occupational, professionally supported competence management that is integrated into the work process will facilitate the efficiency of the workforce throughout their working lives and gainful employment that supports learning. Primary approaches to building up the innovation and competitiveness of companies consist in new models of work organisation, a personnel policy with a lifelong orientation and strategies for company-specific competence management.

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StraKosphere−Competence development concept

The StraKosphere sub-project "Practical testing for competence development at all qualification levels" pursued by Freek was an important condition for achieving the company's future competition and innovation strategy goals. The outcome is a central tool for systematic, strategic competence development at Freek. During the development and testing phase, initially created as a flexibly adaptable Excel table, the tool was subsequently transformed using Access to provide suitable database functionality. Only by this means can the inevitable complexity of the tool be mastered and acceptance and user-friendliness be achieved for the main users at executive and management level.

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Record of Success

The encouraging positive developments attained by Freek, particularly during the StraKosphere project period and thereafter, are certainly not attributable to strategic competence management alone. Nevertheless, many indicators in fact demonstrate that StraKosphere has played a major part in the company's sustained upward trend. The focus on the current skills and expertise in the Freek team and those of relevance for the future has bestowed a clear increase in professionalism and self-confidence when dealing with our ever more-demanding customers and the regulatory authorities. Be it UL, CCC, CE, VDE, GS or factory standard, certificates, proofs of conformity, confidentiality statements and customer audits, today these are all everyday matters; but no longer need these be a cause of stress for anybody at Freek. Competent employees are also less prone to making mistakes, and are probably also more balanced and more resilient. This thesis has been confirmed by the trends of the sickness statistics and those for complaints. In 2018 both of these were at a historic low.

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Industry partners, Scientific partners and Implementation partners...

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