Skilling for tomorrow at school a training project for iVet and technical students soft skills

Authors: Francesco Tommasi, Ioris Franceschinis, Marco Perini, Giuseppe Tacconi

Nowadays, policymakers and stakeholders have been supporting the relevance of aligning schools and workplaces in the field of Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET). Accordingly, the connectivity offers more opportunities to students to develop and foster work-based skills and competencies that are predictive of a higher level of employability and entrepreneurship with several impacts on the market industries and countries’ economic stability. On the one hand, there is still a debate between educational models based on workplace learning and certifications of competences for occupation in the filed. On the other hand, the literature is lacking a conceptual comprehension about how, and to what extent, IVET program can include competence-based approaches to promote interpersonal and transversal skills in students. With the aim to empirically address these current issues, we devised promoted a pilot training project for students of the Italian IVET and technical schools. Thanks to the collaboration of six Italian schools, both technical and IVET schools, and the Veneto Region’ authority for the manufacturing and construction industry, the project has been sponsored to help students to develop technical and soft skills (e.g., cooperation within different professional roles) during the secondary level of Italian higher secondary education. Students (n=168) of different professions (e.g., electricians, technicians) were involved in our study and assigned to the experimental group, in which they have been redistributed into six classes. Each student of the classes had to cooperate with their peers to realize a product in 6 months consisting of (i) planning, (ii) organizing and, (iii) building. Therefore, students had the occasion to cooperate with students of different job curricula and to learn by doing in a simulated workplace. In order to assess the effectiveness of the intervention, we have combined quantitative and qualitative methods. Hence, we developed a self-report measure, namely, Scale for Market Industry Competence (SMIC), which has been used in combination with interviews and observations to evaluate the occupational profile reached by students in the experimental groups and the project features. The results seem to confirm that our pilot intervention was effective in sustaining technical and soft skills development. Moreover, the qualitative analysis allowed

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