EMPLOY: Digital Skills for Employability and Social Inclusion

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Serious games for building digital skills for employability among learners in secondary education.

According to the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, the knowledge economy is expected to drive economic growth in Europe in the near future. Over 90% of jobs are expected to require digital skills. Shortage of as many as 900,000 professionals is expected in the ICT sector or ICT dependent sectors. According to ICT industry insiders, for every job that is created in innovation-driven sectors another five are expected to open in the broader economy. On the other hand, over sixteen million low skilled jobs are expected to be lost in an economy that increasingly requires high competences. European initiatives such as the New Skills for New Jobs Agenda and ET2020 highlight the necessity of connecting skills built in formal and informal education to work requirements, emphasising in this context the importance of digital competences.

According to the Europe 2020 targets, 23% of the EU’s population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion as a result of a complex process that involves lack of basic competences, including digital skills, and poor access to basic services and lifelong learning. This includes individuals who drop out of school early, may have limited access to educational opportunities as a result of socio-economic challenges, or are unemployed and are not being properly retrained to re-enter the employment market. At the same time more than one hundred million individuals in Europe are at risk of digital exclusion.

Based on the above, young learners with inadequate digital skills may be at increased risk of becoming professionally marginalised in the future, due to competences misaligned to market needs, foregoing opportunities to become socially included and civically active. Low skilled individuals, who may in the present be attracted by jobs with limited entry level requirements, may face increased professional challenges in the future as the demand for highly skilled workers rises.

All of the aforementioned points to the urgent need for interventions in education and training practices, so that the digital skills of the next generation may be enhanced.

EMPLOY aims at developing advanced digital literacy in line with industry’s needs for learners in primary and lower secondary education, with a focus on individuals at risk of exclusion, including learners at risk of ESL, migrants, or individuals facing socio-economic adversity. By building digital skills, forecast to be in demand in the coming years, the project promotes employability, fosters social equity and inclusion, and facilitates economic growth based on human capital, i.e. effectively trained future professionals.

EMPLOY deploys and evaluates active, game-based learning to expose learners to work-inspired activities that require digital competences, problem-solving capacity and analytical thinking. The advantages of the proposed learning approach include increased knowledge retention through serious gaming (FAS), capacity to transfer knowledge to the real world, learning linked to educational objectives through effective feedback, and a supportive, inclusive learning environment based on peer collaboration and entrepreneurial thinking.

EMPLOY develops and evaluates an active learning framework with the objective of building early on digital skills in demand in the ICT sector and ICT dependent sectors. The proposed active learning methodology is validated in practice through the implementation of a proof-of-concept serious game with content linked to both school curricula and professional requirements. Instructional support empowers teachers to integrate the proposed methodologies and tools into their already well developed educational practices. Outcomes are evaluated through deployment in real-life contexts in Turkey, Greece, France, Estonia and Italy. Findings are made publicly available to the European primary and secondary education community and lifelong learning sector.

EMPLOY makes strategic use of ICT in education, deploying it as a facilitator for linking learning practices to work needs. It evaluates the learning benefits of serious games in specific contexts. It contributes to innovation-driven sustainable growth by promoting digital literacy that is necessary for sustaining the business development of SMEs and larger companies. It broadens work options for young learners by raising awareness of professional profiles that will be in demand in the coming years and by building the skills that are necessary for entering the knowledge economy. It empowers local communities to fight unemployment and to retain talent, contributing to social cohesion and active citizenship. It promotes positive attitudes towards education through the publication of good practice paradigms on the integration of ICT into learning processes. It supports broader availability of ICT tools for educational purposes. And it enriches teachers’ skills sets for promoting the adoption of outcomes.

Basic information

Country: Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey

Coordinator: Istanbul Valiligi, www.istanbulab.gov.tr

Programme: Erasmus+

Project Acronym:

Target groups: education authorities, policy makers, primary school students, secondary school students, teachers

Topic: Information technology, Other

Start year: 2015

End year: 2017

Url: http://employproject.eu

Contact person: Harun Yaman, Email harunyamman (at) gmail.com

EMPLOY’s implementation is organised around three axes:

  1. The development of a theoretical background framework for digital skills among young learners with the objective of promoting employability.
  2. Proof-of-concept technical implementation of the proposed educational framework into a serious game and supporting content.
  3. Valorisation of theoretical and technical implementation through evaluation, awareness raising and adoption activities.

In relation to EMPLOY’s theoretical framework:

To ensure that outcomes meet the needs of the stakeholder school education community, activities begin with the identification of learning requirements for digital skill development. This work covers both theory and practice in the following manner:

  • Input is gathered and analysed in collaboration with teachers at each site about the challenges, strengths and current practices in building digital skills in primary and lower secondary education. Questionnaires are developed and distributed in the context of contained research. More specifically, information in focus includes practices on the use of technology as a learning tool in school education, deployment of active learning and other emerging pedagogies, deployment of serious games, activities for building digital literacy, degree of integration of the needs of the world of work into educational practices and more. Information is gathered and analysed in Turkey, Greece, France, Italy and Estonia.
  • Review of existing research practices and policy initiatives in the form of projects or educational strategies and solutions towards building digital skills in school education. This is done at the European level with a particular focus on the needs of those countries in which EMPLOY’s partners are located, namely Turkey, Greece, France, Italy and Estonia. The review complements the field research in establishing a good description of the current situation in school education in relation to building digital skills for employability.
  • Review of related work in serious gaming for building skills among young learners in school education as well as wider groups; this work ensures that trends in the research community are taken into account and integrated into EMPLOY’s activities, taking existing training practices in school education a step further.

EMPLOY’s work is summarised in a definition of learning requirements for learners and teachers in relation to building digital skills. Learning requirements act as the basis for the active, game-based learning framework for building digital skills among school learners. The work will be documented in a corresponding report (O2: Development of Methodological Learning Frameworks for Promoting Digital Skills in School Education taking into account Learning Requirements).

In relation to technical implementation:

EMPLOY’s theoretical work is validated through the implementation of a serious game as a complementary learning tool for building digital skills among school learners to enhance their capacity to follow future careers in innovation-related activities. The game is supported through instructional support content in the form of manuals, learning sheets and good practice recommendations promoting integration and adoption.

In relation to valorisation:

EMPLOY evaluates the proposed active learning framework and proof-of-concept serious game by engaging external user groups of learners and teachers who will use the proposed learning design and tools in blended learning activities. Evaluation takes place in Turkey, Greece, Estonia, France and Italy. Feedback on this evaluation generates the relevance, acceptance and effectiveness of project outputs.

EMPOY develops a range of materials targeting educators:

  • The EMPLOY serious game for building digital skills is available to all teachers for free to help them build digital skills among secondary school learners;
  • End-to-end learning activities built on the EMPLOY serious game. The activities are documented in learning sheets targeting educators;
  • How-to videos demonstrating the functionality of the EMPLOY serious game;
  • A reference guide on the EMPLOY serious game.

 

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