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UOC project to improve young people's employability selected by European Union

  students, employability, digital innovation

The Edul@b research group now has two market-ready initiatives in the EU's Innovation Radar (Photo: Md Duran, Unsplash)

04/08/2021
Lorena Farrās
The Edul@b research group now has two market-ready initiatives in the EU's Innovation Radar

By the end of 2020, the unemployment rate among Spanish under-25s was over 40%. The COVID-19 pandemic has made finding work hard for young people everywhere in the eurozone, but Spain has been particularly hard hit, with a youth unemployment rate twice as high as the European average. A group of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) researchers has led the Strategic Partnership for the Co-Design of an Innovative and Scalable ePortfolio (EPICA) project, whose aim is to highlight  the transferable employability skills acquired by future graduates and help them find work. According to the project's coordinator Lourdes Guārdia, Associate Dean for Teaching at the UOC's Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences and member of the Edul@b group, demand for these skills has also been identified in prospective employers.

EPICA, a project that has been carried out over three years (2018-2020), has been selected by Innovation Radar, the platform where the EU publishes the most outstanding research initiatives funded with European funds through the Horizon 2020 programme. "Innovation Radar's highlighting of the project is a form of recognition that tells us that the work we've been carrying out provides social value and that it should therefore now be transferred so it can be put into practice by more programmes," said Guārdia.

Marcelo Maina, a member of the Edul@b group, the EPICA team and the UOC's Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, and director of its Master's Degree in Education and ICT (E-learning), said that there are plans to "implement the method developed at the UOC to enable students to demonstrate and highlight their employability skills to employers". These include critical thinking, problem-solving or digital skills, among others. EPICA has recently started proposing a method for micro-credentialling these skills so they can be gradually certified and made more visible for job interviews.

EPICA has been developed by an international consortium of organizations and universities. Guārdia and Maina were involved in the design, creation and implementation of the methodology and Documenta Creaciones Multimedia Avanzadas (MyDocumenta) provided the technological innovation with an ePortfolio system.

The pilot project was simultaneously carried out at the UOC and three sub-Saharan universities (Maseno University in Kenya, Makerere University in Uganda and the Open University of Tanzania). At the UOC, the pilot was part of the Master's Degree in Education and ICT (E-learning).

 

Second project selected for the Innovation Radar

EPICA is the second UOC project to be picked for the Innovation Radar. The first one was the Digital Competence Framework: concept and model for development, assessment and certification (CRISS) designed by the same team at the UOC. The aim of the CRISS project is to contribute to the development, assessment and certification of digital skills in all European schools.

These research projects are part of the UOC's strategy to improve its students' employability. They also aim to help achieve a better integration of digital skills, and their development and certification in schools. The UOC's work in this area is coordinated by the Office of the Vice-President for Competitiveness and Employability, which was created in 2019, and its eLearn Center, which drives the evolution of the University's educational model by innovating in learning.

 

These UOC projects promote the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4 (quality education) and 8 (decent work and economic growth).

 

Further information on the projects is available on the EU's Innovation Radar website:

EPICA: https://www.innoradar.eu/innovation/40452

CRISS: https://www.innoradar.eu/innovation/36935

 

UOC R&I

The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health. Over 500 researchers and 51 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu. #UOC25years

UOC experts

Photograph of Lourdes Guārdia Ortiz

Lourdes Guārdia Ortiz

Expert in: Education and ICT; educational technology; educational design of multimedia learning materials and e-learning resources and activities; assessing e-learning; e-portfolios; language teaching in e-learning environments.

Knowledge area: Teaching and organization.

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Photograph of Marcelo Maina Patras

Marcelo Maina Patras

Expert in: Education and ICT; educational technology.

Knowledge area: Teaching and organization.

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