The COVID-19 crisis has severely affected labour markets around the world, hurting young people more than other age groups (Image: Flazingo Photosis, llicčncia CC BY-SA 2.0)
The new methodology aims to help recent graduates find work and aid companies in their search for talent
Critical thinking, problem solving and digital proficiency are some of the micro-credentials that graduates can earn to show their potential
The world is experiencing a problematic mismatch between the labour market's demand for professionals and the skills that students are graduating with. Besides, the COVID-19 crisis has severely affected labour markets around the world, hurting young people more than other age groups. Globally, youth employment fell by 8.7 per cent in 2020 compared with 3.7 per cent for adults. With the two-pronged aim of helping recent graduates find work and aiding companies in their search for talent, a group of faculty members from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has developed a methodology for assessing and recognizing graduates' employability skills. The pilot project's strategy involves a digital portfolio and its certification via micro-credentialing. The published paper is available in open access in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.
According to Lourdes Guārdia Ortiz, associate dean for teaching at the UOC, member of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences and also a member of the Edul@b research group, "Traditional CVs say little about one's academic knowledge, and companies need to know more about such aspects to get a better idea of the skills developed by recent graduates. They need proof of their skills and first-hand evidence of their educational experience. Companies looking to recruit new staff want to know whether graduates can solve specific problems in different contexts, whether they can think critically in a given situation, whether they have the digital proficiency required by today's labour market or how they handle themselves when working as part of a team, to give a few examples, and they must be able to ascertain this with samples of the candidates' work."
Marcelo Maina, member of teaching staff and director of the Master's Degree in Education and ICT (E-learning) at the UOC Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, and a fellow member of Edul@b, said: "The methodology we have developed has two steps: the first step is for teaching staff to assess and certify the skills and the second is focused on putting together a digital portfolio for the labour market and potential employers."
Students can work on their digital portfolio throughout their studies or create one as a final activity. In it they include evidence of what they have learned (along with self-reflections), the milestones they have reached, the recognitions they have earned and so on. The part of this digital portfolio made available for public viewing serves as a professional profile showing micro-credentials, which accredit their knowledge, and evidence, which can be either academic in nature or related to their professional and social endeavours.
The new methodology has been tested at four universities: the UOC and three sub-Saharan universities (Maseno University in Kenya, Makerere University in Uganda and the Open University of Tanzania). At the UOC, it was piloted on the Master's Degree in Education and ICT (E-learning) with 28 students and seven employers. According to Maina, "The experience was a great success, for both the students and the participating companies, and we're now studying the approach's feasibility on other programmes at the institution".
The methodology described is the result of the Strategic Partnership for the Co-Design of an Innovative and Scalable ePortfolio (EPICA). The EPICA project was carried out over the course of three years (2018-2020) and was singled out by Innovation Radar, the platform on which the European Union publishes the most outstanding research initiatives financed with European funds through the Horizon 2020 programme.
MAINA, M. F., GUĀRDIA ORTIZ, L., MANCINI, F., MARTINEZ MELO, M. A micro-credentialing methodology for improved recognition of HE employability skills. In: International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education [online]. 2022. Vol. 19, issue 10, pp. 1–22. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-021-00315-5
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.
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
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.