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 experiences abroad.

The training aligns with SkillsAct, a skills-based model, considering the skills acquired by students abroad as 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?

“Skills Act 4VET” is a 24-months 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.

Reflecting on an international internship’s potential effects on interns’ subsequent career and educational paths requires considering it as an educational experience.

These qualities are part of real expertise that VET trainers must develop through pedagogical work, before students’ departure. Indeed, VET trainers play a role during the preparation for the mission, and through guidance during and after the experience. After the end of the internship, this role persists through the training processes put in place while returning to their countries of origin, the networking, and testimonies.

Interpersonal skills are more subjective, related to individuals’ psychology, such as adaptation, openness to novelty, flexibility, or empathy. An internship is an experience of personal development, creating the individual skills that are difficult to acquire in studies.

Students who undertake an internship abroad are strengthening 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 characteristics.

The role of the VET mobility trainer

What does it mean to do a training in mobility? It means to move from one place to another for a determined length of time, to have a work experience (informal education) and to put in practice what you have learned at school, or during a course (formal education), and return to this same place with some outcomes, it means with a clear idea of what you have learned exactly.

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. There are just two elements we can find in all the three steps: the participant and the VET trainer. Despite the fact that everything is new for the participant, the only person that has a connection with the ”before” and “during” the mobility, the one who accompanies her/him in this experience, is the trainer. This 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, he/she is the one who will accompany the participants abroad, and is involved in the selection of the participants;
  • Analyses the CV and attitudes of the participant;
  • Detects if and which soft skills the participant has;

Mobility

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

Post- mobility:

  • Help the participant to be able to see and recognize the improvements;
  • Make a self-evaluation on the overall experience, considering also the activation of soft skills.

To make sure the experience abroad, the internship, has a clear and great result, it is absolutely important that there is a real knowledge about the aim of the project/mobility: 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 in the participant, we have no doubt that the result will be great and that the role of the trainer is absolutely central.

How does the SkillsAct4VET model facilitate mobility gains for students?

The percentage of young people who have an experience outside their country as an opportunity to grow and broaden their horizons is increasing. The importance of an experience abroad is also increasingly clear to companies and students, who see mobility programs as a great chance to improve their careers and meet specific personal needs.

Thus, applying to a mobility experience can meet different expectations. Sometimes the motivations are much more profound than we think: taking a step back from their family, demonstrating that they can go far, 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 to support and guide VET trainers after their experience. Moreover, an online platform has been designed to self-assess students’ soft skills. A test helps participants verify the soft skills level they have developed at the end of the experience.

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

VET trainers will benefit from the project tools and output, improving their capacity to guide young people during international experiences. Similarly, the guest companies will acquire more competences to offer highly formative experiences 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.

From this research, the leading 5 Soft Skills developed by students during their experience abroad were identified. 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 students more opportunities to identify their professional/educational goals and improve their chances to achieve them.

Just before leaving, 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 measured through multiple-choice questions. This test makes it possible to measure the strengths and improvement regarding the soft skills considered.

Once back to the home country, the teacher must prepare an individual interview with each student after completing the online self-assessment. This interview will provide the student with a space to reflect on the experience, highlighting both negative and positive experiences. To this end, it will be necessary for the teacher to have the report generated after the student’s self-assessment has been completed, to have a tool to talk about the student’s transversal competences. At the centre of the interview should be the student’s experience and the test results, how far the student sees them as consistent with the expectations, reflecting on whether they are different from what they thought they were.

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