EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND

Generic and Entrepreneurial Soft Skills

Generic and Entrepreneurial Soft Skills

TCA acronym
GESS
TCA Title in another language
Generieke en Ondernemende Soft Skills
TCA status
Green -
Partnering projects
Partner project: 
MAs approval status: 
Approved
Country:
Belgium (BE)
Project budget for transnational cooperation: € 41000.00

Partner project: 
MAs approval status: 
Approved
Country:
Bulgaria (BG)
Project budget for transnational cooperation: € 36100.00
Total TCA budget for transnational cooperation: € 77100.00
Main contact organisation
Rationale & objectives
Problems addressed
In a rapidly evolving labour market, soft skills are - besides hard skills - indispensable. Soft skills have a significantly high influence on the proper functioning of employees and entrepreneurs, both in the workplace/business itself and in interactions with partners/organisations and customers. There is a growing need for new ways of lifelong learning and for the development of new multidisciplinary skills in order to keep up and anticipate the new demands of the changing labour market.
In the 21st century employees and of course especially entrepreneurs need self-managing skills and attitudes. The project focuses on the generic and the entrepreneurial soft skills.
Especially young employees and entrepreneurs don’t always realise which skills employers and the business market perceive to be important. In addition, a significant part of them is not adequately able to regulate some of these generic and entrepreneurial working qualities. Soft skills have a great impact on the well-being of employees and entrepreneurs and mastering them leads to better coping with work, a longer working career and/or more successful business activities.
There are already assessment tools available for diagnosing skills, but only assessment tools in a commercial setting. There is a  lack of adequate and free professional consultancy concerning soft skills to  support students, jobseekers and start-ups. There are no non-commercial guidance tools that aim and support the development of soft skills.
The partners perceive a need for tools that can already be used in higher education in the guidance of young adults, e.g. during internships and work-based learning. With these tools, the partners would be able to prepare young adults faster, better and wider on soft skills that are indispensable for proper functioning at the workplace or to start their own business.
Another problem that needs attention in these matters is gender equality. Through the development of a self-assessment tool and a training methodology/platform, the partners will proactively pay attention to gender mainstreaming.
 
Target group
Belgium:
  • students in higher education in preparation for their entrance in the labour market as employee or entrepreneur;
  • jobseekers with a diploma tertiary education for their entrance in the labour market as employee or entrepreneur;
  • intermediary target group: mentors, coaches and supervisors in education, the service sector and at the workplace.
Bulgaria:
  • people, willing to start their own business;
  • self-employed;
  • employees in micro enterprises.
Although the partners formulate their target groups differently, they are sufficiently similar to justify a collaboration with regard to this soft skills project. Each target group can benefit from the self- assessment tool and the platform that will be developed. For instance: the Bulgarian partner will focus on candidate entrepreneurs/employees in micro, small-sized enterprises or institutions and the Belgian partner will focus on students and jobseekers entering the labour market for a job as employee or entrepreneur. 
The self-assessment tool and platform can also be used by the intermediary target group of jobseekers' supervisors and all kind of consultants, coaches and mentors of employees at the workplace and of students in internships and workplace learning.
 
Common interests
Partners will form a strong synergy through transnational cooperation in terms of exchange of experience, best practices and models for self-assessment tools, skills development, non-formal education, supporting (self-)employment, future skills development, generic soft skills and entrepreneurial  soft skills and  organisational development through service design and design thinking.
Each partner brings a complementary expertise and experience to the transnational cooperation:
AP: expertise and experience regarding self-assessment tools concerning soft skills, learning competences and learning motivation, talent development, curriculum design teams.
Fabrika360:  expertise and experience in non-formal education and training, consultancy in service design, design thinking, digital platform development.
 
Common transnational objectives of the partners
This project aims to encourage youngsters and adults by means of an assessment-tool and effective (self)coaching methods to further develop their generic and entrepreneurial soft skills, enhance their employability and labour integration. Together, the partners will adapt and build upon their best practices through coaching methods and service design and the development of the right skillset to enter the labour market or to start a business. The partners will share expertise, models and good practices and test each other’s models. The combination of different cultural perspectives will provide more than just sum of its parts in collaborative learning and developing. It will produce new also competences and skills for organisational development.
In the development of the different materials attention will be paid to gender equality, e.g. through a gender-sensitive wording of explanations, feedback and feedforward.
 
Products, outputs, intended outcomes
Belgium:
  • An online self-assessment tool, with
    • validated scales for a set of 12 à 18 generic soft skills, also entrepreneurial soft skills;
    • immediate feedback on the level of development of each of the soft skills;
    • eventually a report with results for a group of participants.
  • Training and coaching methods
  • A manual for the intermediary target group: the online tool and the online training modules in this interactive methodology are also likely to be used in career counselling and development of soft skills in general.
  • A general report with recommendations
    • on the importance of soft skills;
    • on the use of the implemented tools to strengthen soft skills.
Bulgaria:
  • Developing a service design and ecosystems thinking interactive methodology that builds the right skills in the target groups e.g. candidate entrepreneurs (entrepreneurial soft skills like: empathy, systems thinking, prototyping, collaboration, creative thinking, design thinking). A service design interactive methodology that can be used by all the target groups.
  • Integrating this in the online training module.
  • A general report with recommendations
    • on the importance of soft skills and
    • on the use of the implemented tools to strengthen soft skills.
In general: all these tools and methods aim to support the development of generic and entrepreneurial soft skills. Where Bulgaria will focus on the tools and methods in order to support entrepreneurial soft skills, Belgium will focus on the tools and methods in order to support non-entrepreneurial and generic soft skills. The development of these tools and methods is subject to a permanent exchange of ideas between Bulgaria and Belgium. 
 
Added value of transnational activities
Each partner possesses a unique complementary expertise which when combined will bring a powerful solution for training soft skills also in an entrepreneurial context.
  • Fabrika360: expertise in non-formal education and training like developing online training modules and innovation support methodologies, service design, design thinking, social innovations, social entrepreneurship and business model innovation.
  • AP University College: learning competences, motivational strategies, soft skills and labour market, developing online self-assessment tools.
Work programme and working methodology
Planned transnational activities
1.Knowledge exchange and start to determine the soft skills
for which the partners will develop an online an assessment-feedback tool and coaching methods, incl. consortium meeting 1, Antwerp / March-Apr 2019
  • Getting to know each other: general strengths, good practices ...
  • Overview of the whole project (exploration of the theme relevance for each country and for Europe, fine tuning of the planning,…)
  • First overview of generic and entrepreneurial soft skills and system to select the skills.
  • Specific goal: start determining the generic and entrepreneurial soft skills for which the partners will develop:
    • an online assessment-feedback tool and
    • (self-)coaching methods
    • Demo of expertise of each partner concerning the content of this project.
When selecting the generic and entrepreneurial soft skills the partners consider to take into  account:
  • general soft skills, e.g. reliability and/or responsibility, collaboration, problem solving, empathy, attention to sustainability, attention to safety, precision or accuracy;
  • generic soft skills that are meaningful in the labour market and on the work floor, as an employee and as an entrepreneur, and also generally in life:
    • self-regulation and/or self-effectivity;
    • communication skills, e.g. empathy, coaching;
    • soft skills that are part of the so-called 21st century skills; if not mentioned yet above, e.g. flexibility and adaptability, creativity, productivity and accountability
  • qualities and soft skills that are part of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship: e.g. personal initiative, decision-making ability, ...
  • willingness to learn and/or learning competences at the workplace, e.g. critical thinking;
  • dealing with diversity, e.g. dealing with gender, intercultural skills.
Collaborative work: March-July 2019
  • The partners decide which generic and entrepreneurial soft skills they ultimately hold. The partners will base their efforts on literature reviews, but also on contacts with public employment services, employers and internship supervisors. When selecting the skills, not only the relevance is an important criterion, also the fact that they are coachable.
  • The intended result is a structured overview of relevant generic and entrepreneurial soft skills in English that can be used in each of the partner countries in English and/or in a translated version. The chosen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills may vary between the participating countries, depending on the focus the partners want to set, on the choice of the target group and maybe on cultural differences. The partners will certainly monitor that a large part of the chosen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills will be the same in both countries, at the same time it is actually good that a number of generic and entrepreneurial soft skills will also be different because then the partners can compare the outcomes and differences between both countries. The Bulgarian partner will focus more on what is widely understood under skills that are needed for entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.
  • This activity also means that the partners will work on and deliver a clear description for every chosen skill.
As introduction/preparing for next meetings:
  • seek for models of service design interactive methodology: good practices;
  • seek for models of digital platforms (concerning self-coaching/skills training);
  • seek good practices self-assessment feedback tools.
 
2. Exchanging existing feedback tools and practices in supporting the development of soft skills incl. consortium meeting 2, Bulgaria/ July-August 2019
  • Determination of the chosen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills.
  • Planning of the development of scales and items for the chosen soft skills: constructing questionnaire.
  • Specific goals:
    • exchanging existing (digital) feedback tools and practices (also training methods) in supporting the development of soft skills;
    • exchange models of service design and ecosystem interactive methodology in context of entrepreneurship and social innovations: good practices;
    • exchange models of digital platforms (concerning self-coaching/ skills training);
    • exchange good practices of self-assessment tools.
  • The exchange and analysing of existing (digital) feedback tools (broader than only for soft skills) will inspire us for the creation of the new system.
  • A co-creation session will take place to develop the self-assessment tool (questionnaire and feedback system). This is followed by the exchange of existing practices and methods in supporting the development and coaching of generic and entrepreneurial soft skills which can inspire us in the choice for the soft skills the partners can work with. Finally the partners have a first session concerning creative conceptual thinking (service design) for the development of (self)-coaching tools and methods.
  • AP gives the partner (s) insight into the already developed tools (online tool, manuals, methods, materials, ..) and the underlying pedagogical vision.
  • Fabrika360 gives insight in their expertise in non-formal education and training, consultancy in service design, design thinking and digital platform development.
Intended results:
  • Insight into the possibilities of the online self-assessment-tool and the training and coaching methods to be developed and how they will be presented (manual, platform, kind of platform …).
  • Goals and quality criteria for the online tool and the training methods to be developed, aimed at sustainable employability for the target group.
  • Agreements on the collaboration for the selection and development of scales for the questionnaire.
Collaborative work: August-November 2019
Developing a validated questionnaire
  • Specific goal: jointly developing scales and items for the chosen soft skills
  • This collaborative work will be prepared at consortium meeting 2 and carried out through document sharing by all partners on the online project platform. The coordination will be done by AP via webinars and follow-up by email.
The participating partners in this action work together to collect and choose existing validated scales for the chosen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills and / or to develop new scales and validate them. This transnational activity will be carried out partly task-sharing.
Subtasks:
  • Collecting and analysing possible scales (English); formulate ideas for adapted or new scales and items (English)
  • Translation of the scales/items in the native language
  • Developing scales and items for the selected soft skills; as mentioned above. The chosen soft skills may vary party between the participating countries
  • Pilots of the questionnaire with a selection of scales in a version of the native language.
  • Validating the scales.
  • Gender analysis through qualitative pilots: e.g. by focus groups, consultation of experts.
The intended final result is a validated questionnaire with attention for gender mainstreaming.
 
3. Creating concept and design for the online feedback tool
& putting together the results of gender analysis of the selected soft skills, incl. consortium meeting 3, Antwerp/ December 2019
  • Specific activities and goals:
    • Follow up of the development of the questionnaire
    • Putting together the results of gender analysis of the selected soft skills
    • Creating design for the online assessment and feedback tool.
    • Concept for digital platform for training and coaching methods concerning generic and entrepreneurial soft skills.
    • Exchange interactive materials and methodologies for an online environment.
The partners create a concept and design for the online assessment and feedback tool and define the concept of the digital platform that they will develop.
The finally chosen concept and design for the online feedback tool can vary between partners depending the chosen target group. The partners also exchange ideas and realisations of layout.
This meeting is prepared by
  • the transnational activities from August to November 2019;
  • the development of preparatory design templates focused on the previously determined goals and quality criteria.
Intended results:
  • Optimized quality criteria for the online assessment and feedback tool.
  • A template with the structured presentation of the content of the feedback report together with first lay-out ideas.
  • Concept for digital platform.
Collaborative work: December 2019-March 2020
The application development for the self-assessment tool itself, potentially by each country separately.
Write feedback and tips that can be used in the online assessment and feedback tool
Collect, select, create training and coaching methods for soft skills
Content creation for the digital platform
1.for users: to self-develop self-chosen (generic and entrepreneurial) soft skills
2.for teachers, tutors, counsellors, etc.: giving ideas how to support the development of (the chosen) generic and entrepreneurial soft skills
 
4. Developing and exchanging training and coaching methods for the development of soft skills. Jointly creating feedback and tips for coaching personal development of generic and entrepreneurial soft skills, incl. consortium meeting 4, Bulgaria, April 2020
  • Evaluate the feedback and tips that can be used in the online assessment and feedback tool and as well as in the coaching methodologies to strengthen soft skills. The online assessment tool will provide the participants not only with an explanation of each chosen soft skill and why it is important, it will also give them feedback about their own soft skills and tips on how to enhance them. Both feedback and tips will be formulated according to the development level of the participants.
  • Fabrica 360 will investigate how the method of service design and ecosystems thinking will suit for the self-teaching of  entrepreneurial soft skills.
  • Evaluate the concept of the platform and decide which interactive materials suited for online environment will be used. Content input for the skills: training and coaching methods for generic and entrepreneurial soft skills. 
  • Organising try-outs of the self- coaching methods including evaluating.
Intended results:
  • Feedback for the different levels of development for each of the chosen soft skills, for at least 3 levels of development (self-assessment tool).
  • A manual for teachers, tutors, counsellors, etc., giving ideas how to support shaping the soft skills of the target group.
  • Platform + concept + content: service design as a the self-teaching method ofentrepreneurial soft skills
Collaborative work May-August 2020
  • Application development: platform
  • Adding content to the platform.
  • Try-outs of the self- coaching methods including evaluating and adjusting the methods from feedback of users.
  • Preparing the first conference
  • Online feedback tool: input feedback text, testing, optimizing,
  • Editing a manual for using the tool.
5. Demo of the products - optimize. Jointly starting to formulating recommendations on the importance of soft skills and on the use of the implemented tools to strengthen soft skills, incl. consortium meeting 5, Bulgaria/ September 2020
  • At  a conference in Bulgaria, the partners have a demo of the products to target groups and linked organisations. The partners collect feedback to optimize the products.
  • The partners formulate recommendations on the importance of generic and entrepreneurial soft skills and on the use of the implemented tools/platform to strengthen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills. Recommendations can vary in different age groups and different professions in different workplaces (as employee or as start-up/ entrepreneur)
  • The outcome in the participating companies/organisations is that they will decide themselves which soft skills they want to consider as the most important ones in their company/organisation according to the values and strategies of the company/organisation. Also young start-ups  will decide themselves which soft skills they want to consider as the most important ones according to their values and strategies .
  • Co-creative: develop  the design and  integration of the digital self-assessment tool and the online  platform  concerning generic and entrepreneurial soft skills  for their chosen target group
Intended result:
  • First recommendations.
  • Demo of the products.
Collaborative work October-November 2020
  • Each partner looks for: how to integrate/connect the digital self-assessment tool and the onlineplatform.
  • Test phase/optimize developed products
  • Translation initiatives
  • Formulate recommendations
6. Consortium meeting 6, Antwerp/ Dec.  2020
(End of project period for the Bulgarian partner)
Finalise
  • optimizations self-assessment tool
  • evaluate translation initiatives
  • products: platform/manual for intermediaries.
Dissemination:
  • the dissemination strategy
  • define: how tolaunch the tool and platform to first users?
Evaluation
  • cooperation
  • products
Recommendations
       Report with recommendations on
  • the importance of soft skills and
  • the use of the implemented tools to strengthen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills
Time schedule for milestones, outcomes and events
Date
Transnational activities
Milestones
March-Apr 2019
Consortium meeting 1, Antwerp
co-creation collaborative problem solving and  learning.
A. Exchange of concepts and ideas: the strengths and good practices from each partner in general. 
B. A structured overview of soft skills.
C. System to select the relevant skills
D. Demo of expertise concerning content of this project: self-assessment tools,  kinds of  non-formal education and training, aspects of service design, design thinking
March-July 2019
Collaborative work
  • preparing skills selection based on literature
  • seek good practices self-assessment tools
  • seek models of service design interactive methodology: good practices
  • seek models of digital platforms (concerning skills training/self-training methods)
July-August 2019
Consortium meeting 2, in Bulgaria
A. Selection of the skills: representation of the variation of skills per country, depending on the chosen target group and goals.
 
B. Co-creation:
  • Defining the digital self-assessment tool (questionnaire and  feedback system) through  the exchange of good practices of self-assessment tools: goal, quality criteria, content, connection with a digital platform.
  • Compare models and select a model of service design interactive methodology: context of entrepreneurship.
  • Start creative conceptual thinking (service design): development/selection of (self)-coaching tools and methods.
  • Comparing models of digital platforms for self-training (concerning skills training) and select quality criteria.
 
July-Nov 2019
Collaborative work
Constructing (in collaboration, task-distributing), translating (BU and BE) and validating questionnaire for generic and entrepreneurial soft skills.
Dec 2019
 
Consortium meeting 3, in Antwerp
A. Questionnaire: final list of questions.
B. Digital self-assessment tool for questionnaire and feedback: concept, design and layout.
C. Creative workshop- co-creation:
  • digital platform for training and coaching methods for (entrepreneurial)  soft skills: concept.
  • develop/collect/exchange  interactive materials and (service design) methodologies suited for online environment.
Dec 2019-
March 2020
Collaborative work
  • Developing training and coaching methods for soft skills; potentially study visits.
  • Content creation for a digital platform
1.for users: to self-develop self-chosen  soft skills
2.for teachers, tutors, counsellors, etc.: giving ideas how to support the development of the chosen soft skills
  • Developing digital self-assessment- tool
April 2020
Consortium meeting 4, in Sofia
(prepared by collaborative work)
  1. Evaluate the concept of the platform and the development of  interactive materials suited for online environment.
  2. Optimize  digital self-assessment-tool
  3. Development of tools, with content and methods.
  4. Co-creative: developing the design and  integration of the digital self-assessment tool and the online platform concerning soft skills for the chosen target group
May-August 2020
Collaborative work
  • Application development : platform
  • Adding content to the platform.
  • Try-outs of the self- coaching methods including evaluating and adjusting the methods from feedback of users. 
  • Preparing the first conference
  • Online feedback tool: input feedback text, testing, optimizing,
  • Editing a manual for using the tool.
September  2020
Consortium meeting 5 and Conference in Sofia
(prepared by the above transnational activities)
Formulate recommendations on                        
  •  the importance of soft skills
  •  the use of the implemented methods  to strengthen generic and entrepreneurial soft skills
Demo products
Co-creative: develop  the integration of the digital self- assessment tool and the online  platform  concerning  generic and entrepreneurial soft skills  for their chosen target group
Congress
Oct-Nov 2020
collaborative work
  • Translation initiatives
  • Integrating the digital self-assessment tool and the online  platform (different between partners is possible)
  • Test phase/optimize developed products
  • Formulate recommendations
December 2020
consortium meeting 6, in Antwerp
Co-creative:
A. Final optimizations self-assessment tool and platform
B. Evaluate translation initiatives
C. The dissemination strategy
D. Define: how to  launch the tool and platform to first users?
E. Global evaluation: cooperation/products
End of project period for the Bulgarian partner
F. Recommendations
Organisation & decision-making
Each partner has experience in similar and complementary fields of activities such as developing learning methodologies, delivering training in generic and entrepreneurial soft skills and innovation and employability support. Each partner has the responsibility to organize and deliver part of the TCA in coordination with the other partners.
AP University college takes up the coordination role in this project.
A Steering Committee will make sure the project activities are planned and implemented duly and timely. The members of the committee will communicate via email, webinars and shared cloud space to share all kinds of information, plans, minutes of meetings and webinars, working tools and criteria for the results, draft, interim and final result. This Committee also meet at each consortium meeting: before, during and/or after the planned days for the consortium meetings to discuss the common activities and to take decisions. The working language is English and the platform will be developed in English. In addition each partner might translate and disseminate the results in their national language.
Budget table
TCA agreement
Date of signature of TCA
Wednesday, 28 November, 2018
Editorial status
Published