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Catching up with EPICA: Novel methodology helps recent graduates find work and companies the right talent

When the EPICA project ended in late 2020, it had delivered a methodology for assessing and recognising graduates’ employability skills. In June 2022, two researchers involved in the design, creation and implementation were invited to present the methodology’s impact at the ‘Global Dialogue on Micro-Credentials: Initiatives and Perspectives on Small Learning Units from around the World’ event organised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Digital Economy
Society

Micro-credentials are useful for people who want to upskill or reskill to meet labour market requirements or to develop their professional competencies after entering the workforce. They certify the learning outcomes of short-term learning experiences, such as a course or training in critical thinking, problem solving and digital literacy. These and other micro-credentials give companies a better idea of the skills developed by jobseekers. Based on a digital portfolio, the methodology assesses and awards micro-credentials to improve the quality, visibility and availability of new skills. “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,” explains Marcelo Maina, one of the two researchers who is a professor at The Open University of Catalonia’s Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences. “Students can work on their digital portfolio throughout their studies or create one as a final activity. It includes evidence of what they have learned – along with self-reflections – the milestones they reached, the recognitions earned and so on. The part of this digital portfolio made available for public viewing serves as a professional profile showing micro-credentials accrediting their knowledge, and evidence, which can be either academic in nature or related to their professional and social endeavours.” The EU’s Innovation Radar Prize was awarded to the EPICA (EPICA - Strategic partnership for the co-design of an innovative and scalable eportfolio ecosystem to improve the quality and visibility of skills) project in 2021. “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,” comments the second researcher Prof. Lourdes Guàrdia from the same faculty. According to both, EU funding was crucial in supporting different stakeholders’ involvement towards common objectives while pursuing individual ones. “In our case, universities were searching to empower their graduates in their search of employment and to enrich their programmes with more robust ways of assessing and certifying student achievements,” concludes Prof. Maina. “Employers provided their views on student readiness in entering the job market based on the ePortfolio and the employability skills micro-credentials solution as a way to enhance their capacity to identify the right and best profiles for current and future needs,” adds Prof. Guàrdia. “And from the company responsible for developing the platform that supported this process, it was an opportunity to take controlled risks and improve their possibilities of growth with new and innovative products.”

Keywords

EPICA, graduate, employability, micro-credential, skill, labour market, employer, student