SMART PLUS PROJECT
SMART PLUS is a two-year educational research project funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union which aims to develop an innovative system that identifies gaps in competences required by the tourism industry and educational institutions. In addition, SMART PLUS will offer a range of online learning resources and trainings to extend the impact that this research can have on European educational institutions as they promote employability and prepare their students for the global labour market.
Through project deliverables such as self-assessment tools, e-learning solutions and online open access to educational resources, SMART PLUS will allow institutions to customise trainings according to learning needs and objectives. The three principal outcomes are as follows:
- SMART PLUS System: A self-assessment tool that will identify skills and competences that are relevant for the tourism industry at the EU-level and will allow educational institutions to identify the mismatch between training contents and labour market demand.
- SMART PLUS Learning Resources: In response to the results of the self-assessment tool, a modular training will be designed to help institutions tackle the mismatch problem and support students in acquiring relevant competences. The training will be composed of independent training modules addressing five core EU-identified competences for lifelong learning: intercultural competences, entrepreneurship, soft skills, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and communication in foreign languages.
- SMART PLUS Online Platform: This online portal provides institutions and students with access to the self-assessment tool, the e-learning solution, and a repository of additional open educational resources that allow institutions to customise the training according to learner needs.
This project is led and coordinated by Estudios Universitarios y Superiores de Andalucía (EUSA) in Sevilla, Spain, in collaboration with four other partners: International Consulting and Mobility Agency, S.L. (INCOMA) in Seville, Spain; Inova Consultancy LTD. (INOVA) in Sheffield, United Kingdom; Educational Community in Rome, Italy , and Future Internet LivingLab Association (FILAB) in Budapest, Hungary.
FILAB - Future Internet LivingLab
The first intellectual output will define and create the SMART PLUS System: a needs detection software that identifies the mismatch between demand and offer in the labour market and that also allows learners to conduct a self-assessment of their needs in terms of competences required by the labour market.
As mentioned, the SMART PLUS System will be based on and will adapt and improve the existing solution by creating a new layout, facilitating the access to the tool (which will be linked to an OER) and defining new dimensions and reports.
This tool will use the standard terminology for occupations, skills, competences and qualifications relevant for the EU labour market and education and training introduced by the European Commission (ESCO - European Skills/Competences, qualifications and Occupations), which intends to help bridge the gap between the world of education and training and the labour market. Indeed, the ontology-based system will include a self-assessment tool that educational institutions will use to detect the discrepancies between the competences required by the tourism industry labour market and the training contents their offer. The tool will generate a report that provides teachers with information to identify individual learning needs of students, which will then be tackled by a customised version of the SMART PLUS training (O2). Therefore, the self-assessment and the report, which are addressed during this output, will be essential to customise the complementary training pathways that will benefit students.
Additionally, relevant stakeholders in partner countries will provide inputs for the definition of the SMART PLUS System, namely through consultations with experts to collect evidences and feedback related to the system dimensions and, on a second moment, through a focus group that will informally validate the results and contribute to the final version of the system.
The involvement of stakeholders and external experts contributes to ensure the system (and project) sustainability, as national specificities will be take into consideration when designing and implementing the solution.
The output will be led by FILAB as the technological partner in charge of the improvement of SMART previous results and the interaction between the skills mismatch scanner (Ontology- based tool) and the Self-assessment of transversal competences for labour market tool.
INCOMA - International Consulting and Mobility Agency
O2 will be devoted to the design of a dynamic training solution addressing transversal competences adapted to the specific sector (tourism).
Whereas the system designed in O1 allows educational institutions to identify the areas to be improved to better match labour market demand and also allows learners to carry out a self- assessment in terms of competences required by the labour market, O2 results will provide institutions with an opportunity to tackle the problem by following a modular training for students to acquire relevant competences.
The training programme will be organised in 6 independent modules (intercultural competences, entrepreneurship, soft skills, ICT and communication in foreign languages) that learners will receive according to the detected needs, as explained above. The topics chosen for the modular training are in line with the key competences for lifelong learning defined by the European Union (Recommendation 2006/962/EC) and that are important “for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment”.
This intellectual output will include the definition of the training programme, the development and translation of learning contents and the design of the ECVET system.
EUSA - Estudios Universitarios y Superiores de Andalucía
O3 will contribute to integrate and adapt the learning contents developed to the SMART PLUS Online Platform.
This online platform will include the training contents prepared for the modules defined in O2 and a repository of open resources (OER) to customise the training pathway according to the learners’ needs and to the needs identified by educational institutions.
Therefore, the SMART PLUS Online Platform will allow training centres to use the necessary learning resources to provide the training in a dynamic way once the competence-matching analysis and the self-assessment are carried out.
Furthermore, a pilot testing will be carried out in Spain in collaboration of local VET centres: institutions will execute the matching analysis and learners will also execute the self- assessment tool and receive the training according to the detected needs. All modules will be tested.
Additionally, all partners will implement a focus group with the participation of experts and stakeholders to validate the results and collect inputs for the fine-tuning of the platform. In Spain, this group of experts will give feedback together the testers.
SMART was the predeccesor to SMART PLUS. The SMART project´s main goal was to create a system to compare the needs of the labour market and the existing educative offer in real time, using an informatics system. SMART addressed the relevance of the collaboration between VET centres and business companies by defining a common operative frame (models, procedures, tools) to analyse and manage the competences fit. An ontology-based adaptive tool to dynamically map companies’ and educational competences and evaluate the gaps was designed. In this sense, SMART guarantees the competences alignment over time and across sectors, to respond to the national priority of defining job matching solutions and tools. The scenario approach allowed deepening of the specific need of accessing learning resources (ontologically mapped) related to new emerging jobs. This is done by transferring, adapting and enriching (according to the specific Andalusian and national socio-economical context) results, tools and competences of partner previous innovative EU projects like MISLEM and STUDIO project.
SMART main objectives:
To anticipate the competence needs in the labour market by assuming a dynamic needs analysis models.
To adapt market requirement to the Learning outcomes.
To achieve improved collaboration between VET, institutions and business sectors in order to define common operative frames (models, procedures, tools)
To ensure sustainability, by designing and validating an ontology based adaptive tool that will permit the transfer of the project results (Geographical and sectorial)