Is there a skills gap between what university graduates know and what employers are looking for? Are there new skills that are relevant during and after the COVID-19 pandemic? And could a mobile app support students become aware of their employability skills? These are some of the questions the GES App project team discussed at an interactive session at OEB.
On 1st December 2020, the EU ERASMUS+ GES App project conducted their first multiplier event at Online Educa Berlin (https://oeb.global/), one of the largest meeting points for educational technology providers, academics and researchers. The results from the literature review on “employability skills” were presented by Liz Boyle, from UWS. A plenary presentation was followed by breakout sessions and discussions. While there was agreement that there is a skills gap between the skills perceived by students and employers and universities should do something about that, one participant suggested the ambition level to bridge this gap should be reduced to address some of the skills and do that well. It was clear that COVID has necessitated the rapid acquisition of new skills, especially digital skills related to communication and the packaging, editing and presentation of information. Engagement with online learning materials could be challenging. Additional skills that were identified as important were the ability to reflect and “learning to learn”.. In fact, “learning to learn” was identified as an important non-digital skill related to the COVID-19 pandemic situation too, as we all no doubt, have had to experience. In this respect, a key aspect of graduate employability rests on students’ abilities to reflect upon what skills they have learned and to successfully articulate that to prospective employers.
There were 32 participants registered for the interactive session. However, participation was less than that. It left us wondering if this could be due to a skills gap to find the way through the digital meeting spaces and transitioning between two virtual meeting rooms. We aim to return to OEB in 2021 with more results from the GES App project.