ACTIVATING SOFT SKILLS IN STUDENT MOBILITIES

Welcome to the SkillsAct4VET
e-platform for trainers

Τhe SkillsAct4VET e-platform is designed for vocational and educational guidance teachers and trainers who support students before, during and after their mobility experience abroad.

The training aligns with SkillsAct, a skills-based model considering the skills acquired by students abroad a real asset. Students come back full of new ideas and knowledge, which are valuable development opportunities. They can be a growth engine for the job market in their country of origin.

The training materials are presented along 3 Modules: before, during and after the mobility and include both theoretical and practical, applicable content.

You can first go through the Introduction and Guidelines to get familiar with the basic ideas and principles of the SkillsAct4VET model. Click “ENTER THE PLATFORM” to begin the course.

We wish you an exciting learning journey!

Introduction and Guidelines

SkillsAct4VET: What is it all about?

“SkillsAct4VET” is a 12-month project launched by Tribeka with Militos, M. V. Lomonosov, ADI, Bulgarian Industrial Association, Beyond Research and Elidea – Associated Psychologists.

The primary purpose of this project is to foster the assessment of transversal skills coming from international internships.

The benefits of mobilities

The skills acquired abroad by students are a real asset. Students come back full of new ideas and knowledge, which are valuable development opportunities. They can be a growth engine for the job market in their country of origin.

The effects an international internship may have on interns’ career and educational paths require considering it a truly enriching training experience.

These qualities are a part of real expertise that VET teachers must develop through pedagogical work, before the students’ departure. Indeed, VET trainers play a substantial role before the experience, at the preparation phase, and through guidance during and after the experience. After the end of the internship, this role continues through follow-up training, networking, and final reports.

Interpersonal skills are more subjective and related to individual features, such as adaptation, openness to novelty, flexibility, or empathy. An internship is an experience of personal development, a perfect occasion to develop skills that are difficult to acquire in school.

Students who undertake an internship abroad strengthen their social skills, such as autonomy, communication, problem-solving skills, cultural openness, and a sense of social inclusion. International mobility is a booming reality that does not always consider everyone’s personal characteristics.

The role of the VET mobility trainer

What does it mean to participate in an international work mobility? It means to move from one place to another, for a determined period of time, to gain work experience (informal education) and put in practice what you have learned at school, or during a course (formal education), and then return to the place of origin with some outcomes. That is, with a clear idea of what you have learned abroad.

Furthermore, when we talk about mobility we should distinguish at least three basic steps:

  • Pre-mobility: preparation
  • Mobility: action
  • Post-mobility: evaluation and analysis
  1. 1.There are two main roles we can find at all the three steps: the participant and the VET trainer. Despite the fact that everything is new for the participant, the only person that takes part in the “before” and “during” the mobility, the one who accompanies the student in this experience, is the trainer. This person is the only link between the school and the experience abroad.
  2. The trainer is the only person who has a visible (and important) role in all the process, during:

Pre-mobility:

  • Generally, as the person who will accompany the students abroad, he/she is involved in the selection of participants;
  • Analyses the CV and attitudes of the participant;
  • Detects if and which soft skills the participants have;

Mobility

  • The trainer may detect if the participant is aware of having, or not having, soft or hard skills;
  • If the skills are present: the trainer should make the students aware of them, and show how to use and implement them;
  • If the skills are not present yet: the trainer may instruct the students on how to activate them.

Post- mobility:

  • The trainer helps the participant see and recognize his/her improvements;
  • Organizes a self-evaluation of the overall experience, considering also the activation of soft skills.

To make sure the internship abroad has a clear and good result, it is absolutely crucial that the aim of the project/mobility is well defined. The trainer is the only person who knows the starting point (the school), the participant, the project and its aims. If we add to all this the knowledge about how to recognize and improve soft skills of the participant, we can undoubtedly achieve effective and satisfying results.

How does the SkillsAct4VET model improve the effectiveness of mobilities?

The percentage of young people who see an internship abroad as an opportunity to grow and broaden their horizons is increasing. The importance of international experience is clear to companies and students, who see mobility programs as a great professional asset and a way to meet specific personal needs.

Therefore, the decision to apply for a mobility experience can result from many different reasons. Sometimes the motivations are much more profound than we think: getting some independence from family, demonstrating one´s capabilities, confronting difficult situations without help, etc.

As part of the project, the partners have developed a model for assessing and grading the soft skills developed through international internships. The model has been used to create specific training tools that support and guide VET trainers throughout the experience. Moreover, an online platform has been designed for students to self-assess their soft skills. A special test helps participants verify the level of the soft skills they developed during the experience.

Thanks to the self-assessment test, young people can measure their soft skills more objectively and effectively.

VET trainers can benefit from the project tools and output, improving their capacity to guide their students through international internships. Similarly, host companies can acquire more competences to offer highly formative trainings to young people, useful for their future professional life.

How to use the SkillsAct4VET model

The SkillsAct4VET project has developed the Skills Act model, which comprises of the essential soft skills developed by international students during their experience abroad.

Major European studies about international students’ soft skills have been researched to understand better the different European models for measuring soft skills and matching international internship experiences.

Basing on this research, we identified 5 main Soft Skills developed by students during international work internships. They can be found below:

These 5 Soft Skills are transversal competencies that students can improve during their experiences. It is assumed that being aware of their soft skills gives young people more opportunities to identify their professional/educational goals and improve their chances to achieve them.

Just before the end of their internship, students have to fill the Skills Act self-assessment. The online self-assessment tool is designed for the students to measure their soft skills through a questionnaire. It is easy to use and can be done by the students themselves. The five soft skills are assessed through multiple-choice questions. This test makes it possible to measure the strengths and improvement regarding the soft skills in question.

Once back in the home country, and after completing the online self-assessment, the teacher must prepare an individual interview with each student. This interview should give the student an opportunity to reflect on the experience, including both its negative and positive aspects. To this end, the teacher should have the report generated on the basis of the student’s self-assessment, which serves as a tool to talk about the student’s transversal competences.The interview should revolve around the experience and the test results, and the student should be invited to say how far he or she sees them as consistent with the expectations, and in what they were different from what they were expecting.

Βoth the interview and the test are important tools for the preparation of the job interview, as the final step of the process.