Theme 4: Qualifications, Skills & Competences

Why are Qualifications, Skills and Competences a precondition for a successful collaboration for institutions?

In a fast changing world employers want qualifications (skills and competences) developed quickly and collaboratively and delivered flexibly. Recent research indicates the need for more soft skills to be included in course design. Students also want more flexible and ‘personalised’ learning pathways. And the role of non-formal learning outside institutions has been increasing.

To achieve these aims there is a need for appropriate forums to quickly develop new qualifications and utilise different types of learning such as MOOCs, project based learning, problem-based learning, simulation learning, shadowing and coaching, serious games. An e-portfolio of activities, skills and competences could also be an output.

One major barrier to quicker course development turnaround times is bureaucracy.  Nationally, validation and accreditation processes can be slow. Locally, education providers can lack autonomy in qualification design, internal quality assurance is often underdeveloped and programme boards need to involve more overtly all important stakeholders – providers, employers, students – working together.

Research Results

Results from our 6-country quantitative survey

In order to improve cooperation with employers, program managers at HEIs strive to better understand and address the needs of employers and the skills they need (data). However, no systematic methods to evaluate employers’s requirements are set by HEIs.

Student respondents feel that management at their institution know what employers want and expect from graduates and understand what types of skills employers need (data). To understand the skills and competences of students, HEIs apply methods such as evaluation of skills after a semester, or assessing competences at the end of the studies (data).

What Works

Success factors and best practice for collaboration

Work-based learning isn’t only about teaching learners to become employees – it also encompasses training students to launch their own undertakings. Thus, successful systems for WBL include:

  • strategies to support entrepreneurship;
  • learning outcomes which address entrepreneurial skills;
  • possibilities for students to create their own companies and to do apprenticeships as self-employed undertakings.

Mere completion of a WBL experience does not neessarily mean that the learning outcomes have been acquired. The best forms of assessment involve the deployment of external jury members for the assessment of learning outcomes of students.

Such jury members are sourced from pools of assessors which have been sourced from a network of companies eager to collaborate on student projects and research. Many such companies will pay employees to sit in on such external assessment activities.