“New to the game: (Up)Skilling young people through gamified approaches” was the title of the final event of the “Competences for Effective Labour Market Entry (COMPETE)” initiative which took place on 31 May 2022 at the Palau Robert in Barcelona. The event was co-organised by the Region of Catalunya, REVES and VIVES University. It brought together 56 participants representing public authorities, social economy organisations, universities, research and training actors as well as civil society organisations/networks.
The objective of the event was to present main outputs and outcomes of the COMPETE project, compare them with realities and practices in other regions and EU Member States and discuss ways to integrate alternative learning approaches and multi-stakeholder alliances into existing training and education frameworks.
The conference was introduced with welcoming words by Enric Vinaixa, State Secretary for Employment, Generalitat of Catalonia and Ana Umbelino, president of REVES aisbl. Both pointed to the importance of (soft) skills development as a crucial lever to promote the transition to a fairer, (socially) sustainable and more participatory society. Vinaixa and Umbelino also stressed the role the social economy has to and can play here in partnership with policy-makers, VET providers and other actors.
Marie Boscher, Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG Grow, provided participants with an insight into the European policy framework and, more specifically, the Pact for Skills and related Sector Skills Alliances such as the alliance around the Social and Proximity economy. By signing the Pact, organisations commit to apply a number of principles, including:
- Promoting a culture of life-long learning for all;
- Working against discrimination, for gender equality and equal opportunities;
- Building strong skills partnerships with relevant stakeholders;
- Monitoring skills supply/demand and anticipating skills needs/
Based on their signature of the Pact and declared commitment, the aforementioned alliances/partnerships then receive support by the European Union in realising their commitments. This includes support services, including capacity-building or the creation of networking hubs, but also information events, access to information on relevant funding, etc.
Marie Boscher invited participants to join the Pact, which is still possible.
In her detailed presentation of the “Competences for Effective Labour Market Entry (COMPETE)” Laura Zambrini, who represented the project leader Demetra Formazione, explained also that the project used the word COMPETE not as the opposite to cooperation, but rather as a synonym for tackling challenges.
Bert Hauspie, VIVES University Kortrijk, shared research results generated in the first phase of the COMPETE initiative. Through surveys among and interviews with employers in different economic fields, on one hand, and with students/graduates, on the other, project partners identified several soft skills for which the largest skills gaps seem to exist. Team work, communication, and problem solving are seen as the most important soft skills for young graduates when entering the labour market. Also tolerance to stress is considered relatively important by (almost) graduated students and rated low in competence by both students and employers.
Alessandro Soriani, adjunct professor at the department for education studies of the University of Bologna (IT) and expert consultant for the Council of Europe, shared results of his research and work on the relationship of games and learning, focusing on the case of video games. He illustrated different pedagogical approaches (direct, indirect, critical, creative) and related examples.
Alexis Jiménez from Coòpolis, an initiative for the promotion of the social and solidarity economy (including actions for skills development and capacity-building), provided participants with a local example regarding the use of gaming approaches in skills development. He presented VilaESSCOOP, an Escape game developed in the Covid-19 period in order to allow groups of students to continue learning about cooperative values and principles in a creative, innovative and entertaining manner.
The first afternoon session gave participants an opportunity to learn more about various methodologies and learning approaches applied in different serious games/training modules using gaming approaches. Introducing the session Pablo Moreno, UNIR, presented the COMPETE game which aims to help graduates improving specific soft skills.
Alessio Ceccherelli from the University of Rome Tor Vergata provided information on the COOPCAMP gamified learning approach. COOPCAMP, a training package on cooperative entrepreneurship for pupils of secondary school combines online gamification elements and experiental learning with more traditional learning and teaching methods. Gio Lodovico Baglioni from the Sol.Co Camunia Consortium, who belongs to the persons having tested the training package with pupils, enriched Ceccherelli’s presentation by his experiences.
Elsa Brander from Kooperationen (DK), a platform for the promotion of cooperativism in Denmark, took part in the development of the game “The Cooperative”. The objective here is to invite the players to reflect on and improve knowledge and skills needed for cooperative entrepreneurship.
A discussion on the potential and priorities of regional alliances for skills development led to the conclusions of the conference. Discussants here were Gabriele Marzano, Emilia-Romagna Region – Education, Training, Labour and Knowledge Policy Planning Service (IT), Roser Hernandez, Vice Director for Social and Solidarity Economy, Third Sector and Cooperatives, Region of Catalonia and
Anders Bro, Region Örebro County (SE). Referring to the COMPETE initiative they welcomed gaming approaches as alternative learning methodologies and an important motivational factor for young people. The example of the Catalan Ateneus Cooperatius demonstrates the potential of local alliances bringing together municipalities/public authorities, social economy players, organisations active in the field of education and training and others. Amongst others, speakers agreed on the need to provide capacity-building also for policy-makers and civil servants in order to enable them to develop and implement appropriate policy frameworks and programmes promoting skills development.
The event was framed, in the morning and in the afternoon, by site visits to the ECOS consortium and Coopolis: activities of both local social economy organisations/initiatives also include training and capacity-building.
The full conference report can be downloaded here.
More information on the COMPETE project, its activities and outputs, can be found here.
This article reflects the views only of the organisers and participants and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which by be made of the information contained therein