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Addressing digital transformation through the development of digital readiness, resilience, and capacity.

An important element of the BE-21-SKILLED project will focus on creating innovative tools to enrich the curricula in its attempt to equip the students with relevant 21st century skills (21CS). The BE-21SKILLED project will put a heavy emphasis on nurturing competencies that cannot be (easily) replicated by artificial intelligence (e.g. ethical judgement, relationship development and maintenance, contextual ambiguity and uncertainty, socio-emotional adeptness, strategic negotiation).

The aim is to use innovative teaching methods to instill these skills, and aid in disrupting the traditional teaching routines, which are often in the opposition to the ethos of 21st century skills. Stimulating innovative learning and teaching practices to accomplish its primary goal of developing 21st century skills in STEM students to be able to respond better to the labour market demands, BE-21-SKILLED project puts HEI teachers in limelight.

HEI teachers are often regarded as the main driving force behind student skills and key competencies development, yet the assumption that HEI teachers possess the relevant skills to be taught to students is not necessarily true . Even though the policymakers demonstrate a strong commitment towards inclusion of 21st century skills in HEI curricula, in the practical domains HEI teachers have been found to not have satisfactory levels of 21CS themselves to be able to successfully transfer those to their students (OECD, 2019).

Very often this is due to the fact that 21CS are in opposition to their own pedagogical training they underwent during their own studies and due to the lack of current professional development schemes at the HEIs where they are employed. Thus, the BE-21-SKILLED project aims to tackle these problems by

  1. raising the awareness of essential importance of 21st century skills for successful graduate contribution on the labour markets,
  2. providing the robust training on 21CSto teachers and how they can be successfully instilled in their students,
  3. introduce HEI teachers to the phenomena pertaining to 21CS, e.g. 'learning progression' the notion that skills progress over time - to aid the teachers in better scaffolding the skills of their students based on their current skill development.

This partnership addresses 3 important challenges & needs in STEM and aims to meet these needs and challenges that are reflected through 3 target groups:

  • STEM HEI TEACHERS Although it is widely understood that skillful teachers lead to better education, a vast number of HEI teachers received little to no proper pedagogic training. Therefore, the project aims to address this clear need by upskilling STEM HEI teachers in 21CS to transfer these successfully.
  • STEM STUDENTS Employers increasingly report STEM graduates are not job-ready & require soft skills & need a broader set of non-cognitive skills to cope with the demands of the digital transition. The project will specifically focus on this problem and need by upskilling STEM students in 21CS through the ecosystem approach (co-creation with industry) and by upskilling STEM HEI teachers.
  • FEMALE STEM STUDENTS Due to challenges faced by female STEM students, through comprehensive training and support, we argue that fostering 21CS, which focuses on skills (such as grit), would have a positive effect on retaining female STEM students in STEM HE systems. More aware HEI STEM teachers and non-female STEM students on the importance of non-cognitive skills (such as empathy) have the potential to act as a supporting mechanism for female students, thus influencing their retention in the systems

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