Automotive Learning Community

Setting up the Automotive Learning Communtiy required optimal use of resources and clever use of original plans, tailored to the capabilities and ways of working in the automotive industry. We arrived at a community where during the project phase all activities were organized into working groups. During this project phase, this resulted in growth to 60 active organizations. The perseverance shown to make the Learning Community a success is admirable, the market conditions were not easy. In the last period, the community has reinvented itself and actively shaped a common future with underlying concrete follow-up plans for learning paths with broadening trajectories and questions from the market. With a dedicated program structure to guide this and make it sustainable. We are energetically continuing to build our Learning Community in which we develop innovative solutions together as partners, translating our experiences into an optimal and up-to-date educational offering. We train workers in the skills to work with the innovations and we continuously exchange insight and experience to come to improved concepts/techniques. This final report shows what we have done, but above all it shows the diversity and functioning of a Learning Community. The Automotive Learning Community as an environment in which we drive, stimulate and disseminate innovation.


The Netherlands is known worldwide for its great innovative strength. We owe this innovative power to a large extent to smart cooperation between companies, knowledge institutions and (semi-)government agencies. One of the Dutch top sectors is the High Tech Systems & Materials (HTSM) sector, of which the automotive sector is an important part. Adequately trained professionals are needed to devise, create and maintain the technological solutions. As technological changes increase, the shortage of (technical) talent is becoming more extensive and acute. This human capital plays an essential role in addressing the major societal challenges ahead. This capital, together with technological innovations, is the key to social and technological transitions.

Procedurally, much has been achieved by making good use of the project structure, work packages and underlying action lines in order to balance the composition and functioning of the various working and decision-making bodies in the Learning Community.  Organizing the participation of education and business, in a way where the noses are pointed in the same direction, was an operation (but also a milestone) in itself.

By loading the strategy, focus and principles in phases, a unified approach emerged.

The operationalization of our activities is based on advice on prioritization using the HTSM Automotive Roadmap. Translating the direction of the sector and what the industry demands into challenges that can be taken up in smaller communities. Based on the advice within the pillars and working groups, the Automotive Learning Community has become a comprehensive operation.

In these working groups, a group of partners work, learn and innovate around such a specific industry challenge/challenge. To facilitate this, the challenge-based learning community platform has also become firmly established. Above all, building the community itself may be seen as one of the main results.


Learning Communities aim to contribute to solutions for social issues. With the Automotive Learning Community, we have organized around several themes from the HTSM Automotive Roadmap. The themes that are urgent within the industry. In addition to tangible results, being part of a Learning Community also produces returns on many levels. At different levels for organizations and individuals. To make these visible, the value creation framework was used, as also suggested by the national network of learning communities. Also in the Automotive Learning Community value creation turned out to be a dynamic cyclical process. All partners were interviewed for this, below is a summary that outlines examples of how each layer works. Starting at the beginning, the expected value and thus the reason for participation. To then also touch on the potential, applied, realized and transformation value.

The participant's needs and expectations prior to participating in the Automotive Learning Community were mostly in line. Educational institutions from the need to work in project form with industry on, mostly technical, challenges. Process existing learning material into modules for professionals and improve/ further develop curricula based on business.  For almost all organizations, becoming/being part of a visible and lively community was an important reason for participation. Through a community, organizations can also showcase themselves.  For the companies, the major challenges of digitization and sustainability in relation to the knowledge and skills of the professionals are a motivation to participate in the Automotive Learning Community. To give a good interpretation of Lifelong Development and to arrive at new insights and products through co-creation.

From the participation, the partners have experienced various returns. For example, there were numerous activities and interactions in the community that were found valuable in themselves. The lines between the organizations have become much shorter. First contacts turned into intensive conversations into far-reaching cooperation. Working within the community also opened doors to new activities for many partners. There is knowledge gained in the Automotive Learning Community but not immediately applied. For example, in the area of human capital, where new skills, perspectives and professional growth start to pay off in follow-up programs and projects. A lot of social capital has been created, the community is all about the relationships and connections between participants. This can be seen, for example, in the growing number of master classes and guest lectures. But also in the formal connection between the connecting organizations with a view to future programs.

From the learning community also comes a lot of tangible capital. Think of a module description with tools, shared labs and facilities but also how we are going to facilitate access to that information through the platform.  A summary of all kinds of facilities is included under infrastructure. 

Also important is the reputation of the Learning Community, the recognition of the strategic value of this form of collaboration has proven to be great. This is visible in the many follow-up programs the TALCOM project has led to, but also in the portrait the top sector HTSM has made about the Automotive Learning Community ( This is also applicable at the organizational level, positioning or specific role within the learning community also works outside the program. By operationalizing all activities as working groups, solid results have also been achieved with the development of learning capabilities. The non-obvious connections also allow participants to see ways of learning other than the ones that are common. This works in all directions because by being actively engaged as a business with education in a working group, it affects the overall learning capital. Students are offered different kinds of pathways and enter the field better prepared. And professionals re-enter the classroom alongside current students to jointly absorb new knowledge.

This final report shows that much of the value gained from the Automotive Learning Community has already been directly applied again in practice. Cases that begin as guest lectures land in curricula or have evolved into minors. Test rooms are widely used, with explanations and knowledge transfer descriptions and tools again having a role.

On several fronts, then, the Automotive Learning Community has brought about noticeable/measurable change in practice. This has to do with attention to topics such as functional safety or working safely on electric vehicles. But also filling in in-house academies and appointing learning and development managers within the companies to have and keep a better picture of learning needs. From there, a strategic training program can be created that can be exchanged via the Automotive Learning Community. But also the educational institutions that collect up-to-date information through working groups and bring that together with the companies in a modular way towards education.

Ultimately, activities have emerged on several fronts that lead to real transformation. New companies emerged from Automotive Learning Community processes. Weaving in regular education with upskilling of professionals, thinking about it much better and earlier but also integrating it. Similarly, the way of working, through a learning community, has become the standard for more parties and programs.

These changing perspectives, by partners starting up and sometimes shutting down tracks in working groups, sometimes seem like a disjointed mishmash of ad hoc issues. Yet this is precisely what makes the community. This is the tension needed to build community. Cutting across all existing structures, the setting of a new community, the Automotive Learning Community, is characterized by the unexpected. The connection and linking of stakeholders makes the community more and more positioned at all levels. In the upcoming phase, the community will continue to develop and prove itself.
To eventually grow into an autonomous organism, which actually continues without active activation due to the internal returns and input of those involved. End picture is a self-sustaining mechanism, where partners bring in challenges of their own accord and seek each other out. They in turn bring in other relevant organizations and try new solution directions. From these processes come new challenges in turn, and the dynamic cyclicality continues.