Developing careers through transversal competencies
Transversal competencies such as communication and leadership are crucial transferable skills for future workplaces. How to develop and assess these all-important but at times highly subjective skills? The DEVELOP project, headed by a trans-European consortium and co-funded by the EU, is developing an online environment designed to both measure and develop these skills. It integrates techniques such as game-based methods, social learning and AI planning with the final goal to assist users to further develop their careers. Dr Uta Schwertel, Project Manager, told us more about the DEVELOP project.
Career development in large organisations has long been driven by top-down, organisation-driven, talent management solutions. Changing labour markets, reduced job security, and longer working lives are leading employees away from singly focussed career paths towards competencies for life-long employability.
Here soft skills or transversal competencies play a crucial role: soft skills such as leadership and communication competencies are set to be crucial transferable skills for all future employees. The shift away from organisation-driven career paths requires employees to take control of their own development. This necessitates tools to support employee-centric competency-driven career development.
An online environment to support career development
The EU co-funded project DEVELOP is creating these tools for competency-driven career development. DEVELOP is run by a consortium of European partners made up of private companies, universities and research organisations. The DEVELOP Personalised Learning Environment (PLE) is an online environment for users such as employees, people managers and strategic HR in medium and large companies who want to receive career guidance and actively develop their career. The environment offers services such as the assessment of transversal competencies (e.g., Leadership, Communication, Critical Thinking, etc.), the analysis of social capital based on an employee’s virtual social network, career path recommendations and related learning activities, helping the employees to discover their strengths and further develop their careers. The end product of the project is intended to be a for-profit tool for medium and large companies.
Users can discover their competencies by using DEVELOP’s online assessment tools
This video gives you a brief walk-through of the DEVELOP environment and its competency-based approach to career development.
How to assess and develop transversal competencies in the digital era?
How then are transversal competencies assessed in the project, given their often subjective nature?
DEVELOP integrates online personality assessment questionnaires, 360-degree feedback (feedback gathered from a person’s colleagues, subordinates and superiors, and through self-evaluation) and other questionnaires as one means to assess transversal competencies of a user. We combine this with novel AI planning techniques to recommend realistic learning paths to a user for a certain career goal acknowledging the uncertainty of these competency assessments. In addition, the project develops and integrates further innovative tools to assess and train transversal competencies: game-based assessments and the Social Learning Tool.
Transversal skills like communicating and leadership are usually measured in roleplays, questionnaires and sometimes by using the 360-degree feedback method. Although these methods offer advantages, they are often time-consuming and costly. A more contemporary way of assessing soft skills like leadership is by using game-based assessments. The concept of a serious game is to capture behaviours in a gamified setting, in such a way that it is sufficiently related to actual behaviour, but digitally measured in an entertaining and cost-effective manner. Such a method has proven to be valid, especially when the more traditional methods suffer from social desirability and faking.
DEVELOP created a serious game to measure and train leadership competencies. In the game, you are immersed in an authentic workplace context. The interactions with your virtual team members help to identify your preferred leadership style. You will also fill out a questionnaire to determine how you think of yourself as a leader. When you have completed the leadership journey, you will receive a report that will give insight into your perception of yourself as a leader compared to your leadership style(s) based on your decisions in the simulation itself.
This video offers a brief introduction into the leadership game. DEVELOP is currently completing a further serious game to assess Virtual Cooperation competencies.
Social Learning Tool – embedding the learned competencies into real life
Transversal competencies are not solely developed by participating in online courses or classroom trainings since the transfer of acquired knowledge into practice is not ensured. Embedding learning activities into employees’ everyday working processes and social interactions is crucial for the long-term success of workplace learning. Learning in social groups towards common goals, and providing and receiving feedback and assessment from peers is a new trend in corporate training. How can this be digitally supported?
The project created the DEVELOP Social Learning Tool, an online tool which facilitates self-directed informal learning and competency development supported by a learning community. The tool offers various features to guide and motivate the user in applying knowledge in practice. A coach can use the Social Learning Tool to prepare learning activities around a certain (transversal) competency. An activity consists of various small tasks or challenges on which learners can work alone or supported by a community of practice whenever it occurs in their daily work.
Social Learning Tool – Tasks belonging to a social learning activity to train negotiation competencies
DEVELOP will start piloting the environment with end users in three large companies starting in summer 2018. Pilots are planned to run for four to six months, with the project planned to end in July 2019.
If you would like to receive more information about the environment or the project don’t hesitate to contact the DEVELOP team.