The empowerment of youth is an important aspect in the European educational strategy. The project SMART “Skill Matching Assistance and Reporting Tool” is a way to focus this and create skill awareness.
The SMART consortium intends to create a tool that matches skills of youths with skill requirements for jobs. Unlike other matching tools it takes into account informal skills and doesn’t focus onl qualifications. It doesn’t ask youths to rate their own skills (which is difficult with limited experience and leads to bad results) but takes them through skill tests instead. Groups that benefit from the tool are youths, especially those who don’t do well in the educational systems and who have a chance of proving their skills in the skill tests, as well as employers who will be able to find employees who have just the right skills for the job. Career counsellors also benefit from using the system because it can provide them with a detailed skills profile of job seekers that will be highly useful when analysing their personal development and their options.
SMART focuses on the career orientation processes of young people that are disadvantaged or have to face any obstacles, and aims to bring them into employment. Therefore, the consortium partners will conduct research and cooperate with practicioners to create a generic job skill model and a matching concept that matches the skill and interest profiles of young people with occupational profiles or even reported job offers. In contrast to recent approaches, SMART focuses on generic skills that are required for various jobs and on young people’s interests as well without relying on their qualifications. The partners will develop a web-based tool based on the conducted research and the developed models and concepts. Within this tool, young people will run skill tests to create a profile that will then be matched with occupational profiles. Both the personal profiles and the occupational profiles are based on the same aspects and dimensions. The tool will be made user friendly and easy to use, and it can be used by young people, youth workers or career counsellors. Thus, SMART is scientifically sound and practical orientated.
In SMART collaborate experienced partners. Universities, youth organisations and a technical partner will bring in the expertise to run a project that considers many perspectives and needs. The chair of Business, Human Resource Education and Evaluation Research of the University of Paderborn is highly experienced in the field of career orientation, the development of competency models and evaluation in general. Professor Jindal-Snape from the University of Dundee is an expert when it comes to disadvantaged learners and the design of transitional systems. She is internationally recognized. Both Universities will be responsible for safeguarding high scientific standards. Ingenious Knowledge is an expert when it comes to innovative IT solutions. They are experienced in designing tools like SMART (see BEDARF) and in developing Serious Games, too. YEU Cyprus and Pro Educatione have contact to our target group. They are working with young people or youth organisations and they have big networks. They will review the theoretical concepts based on their practical expertise, and thus, they ensure the practical orientation within the project.
By conducting qualitative research with employers and bringing the findings together with a literature review, a generic job skill model will be created. This generic job skill model will be the basis for the matching concept which aims to provide tasks for the skill assessment of the learners. Both of them will then be embedded into a web-tool that matches the youth profiles with occupational profiles. In order to use the tool adequately and to improve its quality, a handbook will be designed and test-implementations and evaluations will be conducted. Once, the tool is developed, young people, employers and youth workers will benefit from the consortium’s work. They will have a tool that gives them detailed and diversified orientation in an easy way.
Due to the advanced technological architecture SMART will be a highly modern tool that will also be highly efficient due to the scientifically sound concepts at its core. The consortium firmly believes that it can support informal education in the youth sector better than any other tool by making the acquired skills visible in profiles. With a good integration in career counseling processes and a good dissemination in youth work the tool can be established, especially if employers understand its advantages and actively use it. If the developed tool only sees minimal use at the end of the project as a way of creating skill profiles for youths it will still be extremely useful. However, if the consortium manages to establish it as a job matching tool it will most likely be only the first step towards a new way of looking at job skills that can have a huge impact.