About this project
SoftSkills4EU is an Erasmus KA2 funded project, that has the following aims:
- To identify the key soft skills needed in Europe,
- to develop new e-validation and e-learning tools, using the concept of “open badges“,
- to develop a standardized system for self-evaluation and validation,
- and a strategy for recognition, aimed towards employers, counsellors and other relevant stakeholders.
One of the more important Europe 2020 goals is to enable adults — in particular the low-skilled and older workers — to improve their ability to adapt to changes in the labour market and society. Adult learning provides a means of up-skilling or reskilling to those affected by unemployment, restructuring and career transitions, as well as makes an important contribution to social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development. In the European Framework there are many key competences for lifelong learning which are defined by the key skills and knowledge that people need in order to achieve employment, personal fulfilment, social inclusion and active citizenship in today’s fast-changing world.
Within European Adult Education Agenda priorities and the Council’s recommendations for new avenues for adults; priority will be given to:
– Improving and extending the supply of high quality learning opportunities tailored to the needs of individual low-skilled or low-qualified adults so that they enhance their soft skills;
– Facilitating access to upskilling pathways by making available skills identification and screening;
– Guidance and motivation strategies which encourage low skilled or low-qualified adults, to develop and upgrade their digital competences and skills and/or progress towards higher qualifications;
– Extending and developing educators’ competences – particularly in the effective teaching of digital skills to low-skilled or low-qualified adults, including through the effective use of ICT;
– Developing mechanisms to monitor the effectiveness of adult learning policies or to track and monitor the progress of adult learners.
Main target groups
Job seekers: like first-job seekers, low-skilled, long-standing unemployed persons and unemployed persons with obstacles have no full awareness of the importance of soft skills and how these skills with proper validation can contribute to their job opportunities. We want to involve especially low-skilled employeesin order to evaluate their competences in the way of looking for a new opportunity in the labour market. Therefore, we aim to raise their awareness of the importance of soft skills and how these skills with proper validation can contribute to their job opportunities. We will reach these particular target groups mostly throughcareer guidance centres, employment agencies, competence centres and various programs in our own organizations, etc…
Migrants: a vulnerable group, as they have similar needs as other job seekers, however, they have more specific characteristics, that need to be addressed with specifically adjusted tools and materials, which will be designed in the project. We will reach this target group with the help of NGOs that work with migrants, through programs in our own organizations and also by using outreach approach, because vulnerable target groups like migrants usually don`t come to organizations for help, therefore we have to reach out to them in the field.
Adult educators, counsellors: have not sufficient tools for recognizing, evaluating and validating soft skills, therefore they have difficulties when they try to evaluate or validate soft skills with their clients (job seekers), thus they cannot give effective career counselling. We want to equip them with knowledge, skills and tools that will enable them to successfully recognize and validate soft skills of job seekers, thus ensuring a more efficient counselling.
What are Soft Skills?
In contradiction to “Hard” skills, that are relatively easy to quantify by tests, official qualifications or specific professional certificates, “Soft” skills are more general and for them it is not-so-easy to estimate the level of compentency. Examples of such soft skills are communicative skills, teamwork, creativity, entrepreneurial skills, time management, decision-making and so on. They are much more aligned with the personality of a candidate, his/her way of thinking, attitude and motivation.
What is important about these, is that they are more “transferable”, which means: useable in different jobs, which is the reason they are so useful. In the end, this makes you more flexible in terms of employability, which is very necessary for the current rapidly changing job market.
As soft skills are less referable to your qualifications and more personality-driven, it is important to consider what your soft skills are and how you might show evidence of them before you apply for a job. As they are harder to quantify, screening for soft skills is much more difficult. But our project is having a go at this!
What is an open badge?
Worldwide, open badges are becoming a popular way for motivating and rewarding learners for acquired skills. These skills can be obtained in diverse contexts, e.g. through formal, non-formal and informal learning.
Since the age/era of the analog world, badges are a visual representation of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. From Sheriffs, Boy or Girl Scouts, to PADI diving instructors. More recently badges in digital form are used to set goals, motivate behaviours and represent achievements in many computer games. This concept was an important element within “the gamification of learning”. Open Badges take that concept of digital badges further. It is an open and non-commercial technical standard created by Mozilla, which allows for the creation of verifiable, portable digital badges.
All the information (metadata) about skills and achievements, its recipient, the issuer, and any supporting evidence is irreversibly “baked” into a badge image file. Open Badges are shareable across the web, in online CVs or on social media.
These digital credentials are trustworthy and thus useful for job applications and education admission. The underlying infrastructure guarantees provenance and immutability. Many examples of successful implementation already exist, like the “badging” of MOOCS by the UK Open University, or that of their complete in-company training by IBM.
RIC Novo Mesto (project leader)
We are one of the leading adult education organisations in Slovenia with more than 50 years of experience in working with adults. Our institute was established as a public equivalent body by the Municipality of Novo Mesto, the largest city of South-East Slovenia. We currently employ 30 people and cooperate with more than 130 regular external experts, teachers, mentors and researchers. We develop and implement innovative formal and non-formal education programmes and offer guidance cervices for different target groups: general public, people living in rural areas, people with special needs, young adults, the unemployed, senior citizens, the Roma population, immigrants, employees in search for new trainings and education, etc.
As a public body, we work closely with a wide network of local, regional and national partners, such as: municipalities, ministries, regional development agencies, chamber of commerce and industry, chamber of crafts, other adult education organisations, primary and secondary schools, higher education institutes and faculties, NGOs, enterprises, etc. Based on our project work, we cooperate with a wide network of international partners.
Our general programmes to gain formal education comprise primary school and secondary school for adults, as well as higher online education. Furthermore, we organise non-formal vocational courses, computer and language courses and general adult education courses on various topics. In our institution, we strive to the quality of implementation in all areas of our work. Acquired certificates, signs and other documents represent a recognition and confirmation that we have already achieved some of our objectives, and that we are on the right track. We have ISO 9001:2008 (ISO 9001:2015) which is an internationally recognized quality standard, issued by an international organization ISO (International Standard Organization). Within Guidance Centre Novo Mesto (under supervision of Slovenian Institute for Adult Education) we have developed system of quality – framework for Quality Assessment and quality development in Adult Education Guidance Centres.
Business School PAR
Business school PAR (PAR) is the only business school in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County of Croatia accredited by the Ministry of Science, education and sports. PAR offers bachelor degrees in business management with close entrepreneurial sector collaboration and with about 220 present and 150 alumni students. PAR teaching staff comprise of 25 professors, all experienced professionals from academic and real sector. School’s aim is to provide students with the opportunity to gain internationally recognized degree and expert-tailored program of business management and entrepreneurship.
Strength of Business school PAR lays in excellent network of international partners with signed 21 bilateral and 16 Inter-institutional Erasmus agreements with higher education institutions from Eastern and Western Europe. Partnership with Lehigh University (and Iacocca Institute) as a HEI from the USA resulted in delivering an international, annual conference with 7-year tradition on with topics related to ICT, entrepreneurship, leadership, management in business, education, sports, tourism, and industry. PILC conference brings together top American and European economic experts, CEOs and their deputies, Deans, university professors, national consultants, and students gathered in one place and involved in various programs and interactive panels, seminars and workshops.
In 2015 Business school PAR gained an ECHE (Erasmus Charter for Higher education) as an evidence of compliance of all operational and professional capacities in international cooperation activities. Thus acknowledged PAR with a general quality framework for mobility and educational programs. With internal evaluations and evaluations of users, PAR is working on the systematic improvement of its organizational capacity and is planning to introduce certification standards into its business activities.
Business school PAR as part of the student practice, conducts the activities of directing students to work on the real case studies of business partners that constitutes the Economic Council of Business school PAR. The Economic Council gathers more than 50 regional companies of different profiles with which it organizes students’ practice as one of the conditions for meeting the educational requirements and completing the study program.
Promimpresa is a private company, which provides and promotes services for enterprises. The corporate headquarter is located in San Cataldo but the company has branches also in Palermo, Bologna, Mantova, Lucca and Milan. The full time staff of Promimpresa is composed of 25 employees.
The mission of the company is to support their clients during their path of development, providing qualified assistance and monitoring of all activities. Promimpresa provides its services to SMEs, public entities, manufacturing and service companies operating in various fields. The services provided by Promimpresa comprise:
~ Continuous education for enterprises, with a special focus on foreign language courses.
~ Training programmes for unemployed people (i.e. vocational education)
~ Recruitment (Employment Agency for the activities of Research and Recruitment, accredited by the Italian Ministry of Labour)
~ On-line courses (Promimpresa is an e-learning center point of the Telematic University “Pegaso”).
Promimpresa offers training for employees working for private companies or local authorities. The provided courses can be predefined but also on-demand (content, objectives and duration of the courses, all the details are determined by the customer in such case Promimpresa’s task is to set an ad hoc training related to the information received).
The teaching methodology applied by Promimpresa is based on three elements:
~ interaction between trainers and trainees – learning systems based on words, images, direct experience, comparison and evaluation.
~ learning by doing;
~ constant involvement of students through the use of individual and group exercises in order to learn immediately what they are taught (analysis of case studies, conducting exercises and simulations acquire the skills needed to manage in a conscious and effective real work situations).
Promimpresa’s courses are addressed to various levels of the customer organizations, from top management to executives, from technical specialists to the professional sector (employees and workers). Appropriate teaching methodologies are adopted in order to meet the specific needs of each target group. Promimpresa srl uses quality management system in compliance with ISO 9001:2008 certified by Istituto Giordano SpA with certificate no. 982 of 11/05/2006 valid for the following products: “Design and provision of training services to public and private entities”, Field of accreditation: EA37. The certification is recognized by ACCREDIA. The company is also accredited to conduct research activities in the National Research Institutions register (60708EVE) recognized by the Ministry of Education, University and Research. Promimpresa participates in PMI Sicilia (Association of SMEs) and is partner of Manpower Group for the training of the staff working at Milan EXPO 2015 and technical consultancy to the exhibitors. The company trains approximately 70 SMEs per year and can reach a broad number of companies at local and national level.
Emphasys Research Centre
The «Emphasys Centre» began operating in 1998. It currently operates as an «ICT Educational and Vocational Centre» and a «European Research Centre», that cooperates closely with various organisations in Europe for the implementation of EU projects. The «Emphasys Centre» is approved by the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture as an Educational and Vocational Centre specialing in the field of ICT. It has recently established the Coding and Robotics Unit fully equipped with new technology tools (tablets, Edison, Lego Mindstorms, Lego Boost, Arduino etc.) to promote new digital skills for the world of work.
It is authorized by the ECDL Foundation and the Council of Europe Information Scientists (CEPIS) to offer speciliased training courses for the acquisition of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), whereas its staff is ECDL Certified Training Professionals. The «Emphasys Centre» functions also as an Examination Centre for the Cyprus Computer Society and is authorised by the British Council of Cyprus and the Cambridge International Examination Board to teach GCE A’ Level Computer Science and organise various exams, as an approved examination centre. During 2017-2018 the “Emphasys Centre” is fully involved in 19 EU projects.
The «Emphasys Research Centre» cooperates closely with several organizations for the preparation, implementation and management of various EU projects in the field of education and training. They have experience in working in validation and certification, guidance and counseling activities and has reach experiences on the field of ICT, also with development of Open Badges.
The «Emphasys Centre» offers courses to learners, also to migrants, to enrich their personal development and the acquisition of the necessary basic digital competences necessary to support the needs of everyday lives and upgrade the quality of living. They offer professional development programmes for employment, in-service or custom-made training or courses designed for employees of various companies and organisations in the private and public sector based on their ICT needs and requirements.
Furthermore, the «Emphasys Centre»:
– Has a strong network of organization at the local, regional and national level for the promotion of EU project and initiatives.
– Designs and promotes dissemination strategies for the results of various EU projects for further exploitation valorization.
– Promotes the design, pilot-testing and implementation of innovative e- tools that enhance quality teaching and learning.
– Takes up initiatives to promote the value and importance of the recognition and validation of key competences and skills gained in non-formal learning activities.
– Supports the quality provision of lifelong learning opportunities for all: young children youth, adults, seniors and migrants.
Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO)
Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) is an executive department for the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, located in Groningen. With a number of staff of approximately 1600.
DUO implements complex legislation and regulations and has a lot of experience with large scale information systems. DUO’s main responsibilities are:
• financing educational institutions
• management of student loans
• procurement of student loans
• managing diverse registers of educational data, e.g. the national register of diplomas
• enrollment of learners
• organisation of examinations
• legalisation of diplomas
• conducting tasks around managing prevention of early school dropout
• running the National Europass Centre
• organising the national civic integration exams
The sub-department DUO/International services is active in many national and international networks and projects, amongst which the following general ones:
Open Badge Network and sTeps, the Dutch network for ePortfolio;
DUO is founding father of “Groningen Declaration”, a worldwide network on Digital Student Data Portability. DUO participates in European programs and projects like the Europass network, herein it acts as as co-chair of the Europass Innovation working group. In the past, DUO acted as associate partner in the Erasmus KA2 project “Roads to Recognition”, on the recognition of informal and non-formal experiences and in the Erasmus KA2 project “Open Badge Network”, on best practices and dissemination of the Open Badges concept. DUO has many contacts with educatational institutions and umbrella organisations and also volunteering organisations.
Work on your Soft Skills in our Academy!
In the academy you will find learning material for different groups of soft skills. The learning material (also vailable in .gr .it .si .hr .nl) contains questions to reflect on and useful exercises. And if you think you are ready for it take the assessment and earn your badge!
We advise to use the Europass Portfolio to store your badges in a safe place. From there you can generate a cv or a profile page you can use in a job application. How to do that is explained in this video or this document
Softskills project is coming to an end meeting (Strengthen and upgrade soft skills with open badges)
Development and Education centre Novo mesto is wrapping up the two-year international project SoftSkills4EU (Promote your Soft Skills with open Badges) funded by the EU within Erasmus plus KA2 Strategic Partnerships. As part of the project, we have developed a Platform for evaluating and upgrading of Soft Skills, which is accessible on https://academy-softskills4.eu/.
The main objectives we followed throughout the project were:
- Identify the key soft skills needed in Europe.
- Develop new e-tools for assessment and learning using the concept of ‘digital badges’.
- Develop an evaluation strategy that can also be used by employers, consultants and other relevant stakeholders.
The idea for the project came when consultants, who work in our organization, faced the challenge how to help jobseekers and employees to retrace their soft skills and how to inspire them to strengthen them in areas, where they are less developed and extremely important for the labour market or personal development.
It is a fact that such soft skills are challenging to measure for several reasons, either because of the absence of appropriate tools and the unclear evaluation criteria used in the evaluation of ‘hard skills’. Because of the different types of people, there are also different approaches and views, that is why knowledge, skills and competences are difficult to standardized. In addition, “soft” skills, competencies become visible only after a long period of working in practice and cannot be assessed based on first impressions and/or tests.
We upgraded the project idea. The main results of the project are mainly useful for the four target groups: jobseekers, employees, employers and adult educators, career counsellors. However, we gave special attention to one of the target groups in the labour market – migrants.
One of the main objectives of the project is to support the Europass European tool, namely to develop a European soft skills passport with integrated OPEN BADGES (in line with the standards of other Europass support tools).
We trained 15 career consultants (Soft Skills mentors) to use e-tools and award OPEN BADGES.
Our project had mainly focused on a systematic inventory of soft skills (carried out with the research done during the project) and the development of innovative tools for the evaluation of soft skills. We have created the so called ‘Soft skills Framework’ for the five main areas of soft skills, namely:
- Organisational skills,
- Co-operative skills,
- Creative thinking skills,
- Social skills,
- Personal skills (coping with stress).
Due to the well-established term “soft skills” in the EU, we, in partnership, have kept the same denomination and in the naming of modules, despite the fact that our elaborate “Soft Skills Framework” includes not only skills but also knowledge and competences. The foundation for preparing the framework is the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and we considered the placing of the knowledge, skills and competence descriptors on three levels (A, B, C). With the levels of knowledge named this way, we wanted the move closer the evaluation system to the Europass tools.
The platform provides e-learning materials from five thematic areas (five educational e-modules). The newly created material is also integrated the collected good practices. In addition to theoretical testing, on the basis of which participants receive “badges”, which represent validation of knowledge, the project also produced a system of validation of acquired knowledges, skills, competence in practice through the acquisition of the “Good employee” badge.
The possibility of using the results of our project is multifaceted:
- Raising awareness among jobseekers and employees about the importance of soft skills and their impact on motivation, career development and personal growth.
- Preparation of better CVs using our results and Europass tools.
- Supporting career counselling (our newly developed tool is accessible to career counsellors in secondary schools’, adult education, to employment services, assessment centres and other organizations. That is why we want to offer them a tool that will make their work easier.)
- This tool (thanks to the integrated e-learning material) can be used in both formal and non-formal programmes in adult education or for young people or with staff in education companies.
- The tool can be used by employers in recruiting new staff or in preparation of development plan for staff, in monitoring it, for organizing employees to other workplace that are more appropriate to their competences.
In June an online event around Soft Skills took place in Cyprus:
Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19, the event was organised online through a communication platform (Zoom) and 38 participants joined the event. The ME was organised in three parts, divided into three different days (16 & 18 & 19/6/20), and participants had the opportunity to learn more about the project, the material developed and to register into the e-learning platform. Additionally, professionals had the opportunity to learn more about the Open Badges system, how it can be used to validate such skills and also how they can gain the badges developed for the SoftSkills4EU project. Finally, participants had the opportunity to participate in an open discussion with an external expert, Mr Natsi, trainer from the PWC Advisory Services regarding the importance of soft skills in today’s job market.
The third newsletter is out
Use this link to read our third newsletter.
Talk with us at the Final Webinar
September 24, 2020 14:00h – 15:45h
14:00h Welcome & short introduction of the project members
(Erik van den Broek – DUO Groningen, host)
14:10h Development of innovative tools for assessment and strengthening soft skills and its importance for adult education, guidance and lifelong learning
(Tina Kržišnik – RIC Novo Mesto, project leader)
14:30h The development of the Framework and the Learning Materials
(Chrystalla Thrasyvoulou&Stelios Stylianou – Emphasys Nicosia; Zoe Čupić – PAR Rijeka, project members)
14:50h Development of the Badge System and Soft Skills Passport
(Erik van den Broek – DUO Groningen, project member)
15:10h Adaptations for Disadvantaged groups
(Beniaminio Torregrossa – Promimpresa Palermo, project member)
15:30h Closing Discussion
15:40h Call for action and closure of the meeting
SPOCC Framework published
To become and remain competitive in today’s changing business environment, it is crucial to employ highly skilled and motivated workforce. It is widely accepted and acknowledged the importance of hard skills among potential and existing employees, but it is becoming more and more recognized the importance of soft skills, as they were too often undervalued and there were no training or similar educations for soft skill learning.
The first aim of the SoftSkills4EU project was to identify the key soft skills. They are described in this document.about the SPOCC Framework
Preliminary results from our research “Which soft skills are important for employers and job seekers?”
A survey in five different European countries, resulted in many soft skills that wereasked for, by empoyers. We grouped those skills in the following five categories:
- social skills
- personal skills
- organisational skills
- cooperative skills
- creative thinking
Currently we are preparing the “SPOCC Framework”, a framework for Soft Skills, with 75 learning outcomes. This framework will be the basis for developing a curriculum and e-learning materials. The complete framework will be available on our website very soon!
International SoftSkills4EU Webinar, September 24th 2020
Presentations given: (click on the link to open the presentation)
Development of innovative tools for assessment and strengthening soft skills and its importance for adult education, guidance and lifelong learning (Tina Kržišnik – RIC Novo Mesto, project leader)
The development of the Framework and the Learning Materials (Stelios Stylianou – Emphasys Nicosia)
Development of the Badge System and Soft Skills Passport (Erik van den Broek – DUO Groningen, project member)
Adaptations for Disadvantaged groups (Beniaminio Torregrossa – Promimpresa Palermo, project member)
And the videos shown:
Open Badges: https://youtu.be/11uGr5kQRlI
Soft Skills Passport: https://youtu.be/5IG_fQiyVno
September 17, 2020: National Multiplier event The Netherlands (language spoken: Dutch).
June 2020: Piloting academy-softskills4.eu, testing the learning materials and the assessments
February 2020: our second newsletter, introducing the new badge system around soft skills, based on SPOCC
November 2019: initial training as an opportunity for professionals to get familiar with all the work done until now, and as a preparation for the pilot test