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Fostering Innovation Skills as Key Competences for improving Employability of PhDs in SMEs

Lifelong Learning Programme KA3 - ICT - Multilateral Projects

Presentation

With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union, a project team consisting of a Higher Education Foundation, a University, four companies specialized in consultancy, training and research and an European Network of Education, Innovation and Development of New Technologies, led by the Fundación General Universidad de Granada Empresa, is developing the project i-Skills – Fostering Innovation Skills as Key Competences for improving Employability of PhDs in SMEs, from January 2014 to June 2016.

Countries have long recognized that the education and skills of the labour force are the underpinnings of innovation. Generally, innovation skills can be defined as the set of abilities, proficiencies, competences or attributes that contribute to the implementation, transference and management of new products, processes, marketing methods, or organizational methods in the workplace (OECD, 2011).

SMEs play a key-role in most economies, in that they constitute the largest business block and provide the bulk of employment. The recruitment of PhD students and doctoral holders by SMEs is a key mechanism of knowledge and innovation transfer from academia to society that needs to be fostered. The current economic crisis in most European countries (that is especially affecting to the public sector finances) is reducing the capacity of absorption of PhDs and researchers by Universities and the academic context in general. SMEs can contribute to prevent that these high qualified human resources are wasted at the same time that improve their competiveness in the global economy.

Project Objectives

Target Groups

PhD students and doctoral holders

will have access to a user friendly e-assessment methodology (immersive game) that enables them to foster their innovative talent in a pleasant manner in class, at work or at home.

University teachers and HRM professionals

will have access to an innovative training tool for innovation skills development that can be used in class and in the work context, along with a guide of i-Skills facilitator to help them in the application of this tool.

University and SMEs managers and policy makers

will have a new tool from research to use in their quest to improve innovation skills at doctoral level.

Project Phases

The phases of the project are:

1Diagnostic analysis: during the first phase of the project partners will work in the definition of a framework with the most relevant i-Skills for innovation and validate it with a group of SMEs in each country.

4Experimentation and validation of the e-assessment methodology: partners will carry out the experimentation of the immersive game for i-Skills development between a group of PhD students and doctoral holders recruited in the partners´ Universities and partners´ business.

2Design and Development of the e-assessment (immersive game) Methodology to foster i-Skills: the beta version of the software (i-Skills delivery game – test release) will be produced to be tested with target groups in the experimentation and validation phase.

5Communication, dissemination and valorisation: to maximize the impact of the project activities and outcomes to the target groups and to promote their sustainability during and after the project, partners foresee the creation of a European community of practitioners for i-Skills development using innovative ICT based methodologies, the organization of 5 national workshops and a final teleconference at European level inviting to relevant actors in the ICT and doctoral education fields.

3Training toolkit for i-Skills facilitators: during this phase, partners will develop the toolkit for i-Skills facilitators (beta version) in Universities and business contexts with guidelines and link to resources, cases studies, didactical methodologies and glossary/guide to i-Skills framework.

6Quality and Evaluation Management: the project introduces a system of monitoring and evaluation of all the phases of the project, including processes and results.

Main Results

The i -Skills project clearly contributes to the priority of the Erasmus program: “improve the quality and relevance of higher education through cooperation between the Institutions of Higher Education and the labour market”, by developing initiatives or innovative tools that allow evaluating and promoting the employability of university graduates, facilitating the acquisition of transferable skills and harnessing the potential of ICT to enhance more effective and personalized learning experiences.

At the same time the project will contribute to the presentation of the following results:

  • Definition of a specific framework for innovation in SMEs that can be applied at any level of education and specifically doctoral level competences.
  • Presentation of best practices in the use of e-assessment methodologies to foster innovation capacity in formal and non-formal learning.
  • Filing an electronic evaluation methodology by using immersive games that allows developing and fostering innovation skills of doctoral students and PhD holders and specifically in profiles with high technical skills.
  • Publication of a training toolkit to implement e-assessment methodology in academic and business contexts.
  • Designing a training course for experts in the application of e-assessment methodology.
  • Designing of a web-based community of practice environments in order to promote an active exchange of experiences and to facilitate access to these innovative practices to other European students, professors and university managers, professionals, human resource management and policy makers.

Benefits

The i-Skills project introduces an innovative assessment methodology, based on ICT, to promote the skills of innovation, which has an effect on teaching, learning and assessment in higher education. Therefore, the results of the project will have an immediate effect on the proposed reformulation of the universities´ curricula and specifically on the mutual recognition of qualifications and competences in Europe.

At the same time the project will contribute to the following areas:

VValidation of a common framework that identifies and organizes the skills that doctoral students and researchers need to acquire to promote innovation in SMEs.

DDevelopment of an electronic evaluation methodology that can be applied to promote such innovation skills of PhD students and PhD holders in formal and non-formal learning. Immersive games have not been implemented so far in the field of development of innovation skills and high qualifications profile in Europe.

DPromotion and exchange of an innovative ICT-based pedagogy to promote these skills for innovation.

Funding

The project is 75% funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Union and 25% by the partners.

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This Project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.