Erasmus + KA2 Strategic partnership ASSET-H - Awareness of Students' Skills: an Employability Toolkit for the Humanities
ASSET-H: Awareness of Students’ Skills: an Employability Toolkit for the Humanities
Erasmus + KA2 Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices, KA203 Strategic partnerships for higher education
Project number 2020-1-BE02-KA203-074669; Project partners: KU Leuven (lead partner), University of Leiden, University of Helsinki, Randstad
Employers demand the right mix of domain-specific and transversal skills, but “increasingly report mismatches and difficulties in finding the right people” (Modernisation of Europe’s Higher Education Systems 2011; cf. the European Skills Panorama). Tertiary education in the humanities attracts particular attention: humanities graduates have relatively high unemployment rates upon graduation and the mismatch between their skills and the jobs they are employed in is significant (see OECD Skills for jobs 2018 and humanitiesindicators.org). Many of the so-called ‘future-oriented’ skills (e.g. reading and writing skills, critical thinking, creativity and media literacy; see OECD Skills for jobs and New Skills Agenda) are fostered by the humanities, but in-depth research into the skills associated with the humanities is lacking.
ASSET-H will improve the transition of humanities students to the labour market. It involves humanities students, teaching staff, student career advisers and HR-professionals. In the dissemination phase, the project will extend its scope to networks of employers, policy makers and the general public. To achieve this goal, the following objectives will be pursued: (1) identifying the humanities skills profile; (2) helping faculty teaching staff translate humanities skills more explicitly into their course design; (3) giving students the means to assess their skills in relation to the humanities profile and map them onto labour market needs, and providing them with the language to describe their own skills profile; (4) raising awareness of the humanities skills profile among all relevant stakeholders; (5) allowing other institutions and non-humanities faculties to replicate (parts of) the method used in this project.
Each of the project's objectives was mapped onto a work package (WP): WP1 focuses on the identification of humanities skills in relation to the labour market; WP2 designs and tests a training module for faculty teaching staff; WP3 designs and tests an online personal development planning tool for students; WP4 designs and implements training sessions and strategies aimed at disseminating the humanities profile and the tools and modules created in WP1, 2, 3 among the relevant stakeholders from participating and non-participating organisations; WP5 designs a methodological toolkit to ensure replicability of the project activities and spread project results in the broader academic community. WP6 includes all activities involved in the successful management of the project.
The intellectual output of the project will consist of (1) a validated skills questionnaire for humanities students; (2) a report on the skills clusters emerging from the questionnaire, the humanities skills profile deriving from it and its relation to labour market needs; (3) a course design training module for faculty teaching staff; (4) the blueprint for a focus group to test the effect of this module; (5) a self-assessment tool; (6) a personal development planning module; (7) an experiment to test the effect of the module developed in (6); (8)communication plans for the dissemination; (9) blueprints for training sessions targeted at student career advisers and HR-professionals; (10) a methodological toolkit facilitating replication of the project by other faculties and an open-source platform with the project results.
The project will result in a deeper understanding of the humanities skills profile; increased self-awareness and insight of humanities graduates into their individual skills and how they map onto labour market needs; a clearer understanding among teaching staff as to how these skills can be made visible through course and curriculum design; enhanced exchange of expertise between academia and the labour market; networks including academic institutions, policy makers, employers and HR-professionals.
Led by KU Leuven, the project joins together three humanities faculties (of the Universities of Leiden, Helsinki and Leuven) and Randstad, a major labour market actor. All three academic partners have experience with the challenges of employability. Randstad brings in its skills-related labour market expertise. KU Leuven coordinates the project through the Critical Path Method, incl. a Gantt-chart (WP6). Responsibilities for work packages and activities were clearly assigned and equally divided. A detailed strategy for handling project risks is in place.
The project is innovative in its contribution to humanities-related skills intelligence and in the partnership it establishes between academia and HR-professionals. Its long-term impact consists of improved employability rates of humanities students and a deeper understanding of their skills among labour market professionals, policy makers and the general public.