Soft Skills to Improve Career, Business and Employability (SOFTIMPROVE)

The main motivation behind the project is the idea, stated in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, that "investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return investments Europe can make", combined with the conviction that soft-skills hide the key to unlock additional potential in young professionals and entrepreneurs. As a result, we have seen the multiplication of initiatives promoting entrepreneurial learning across the board, from vocational education

and training organisations to non-formal entrepreneurial learning in youth organisations. Today, a substantial body of evidence demonstrates that possessing soft skills predict a wide range of life outcomes, in particular employability, career advancement, and entrepreneurial success (Kerr, 2018, Krueger, 2015, Lackéus, 2015).

Hard skills have gradually lost importance in favor of soft skills, especially with the proliferation of artificial intelligence, which have proven to be a crucial asset in terms of employability and entrepreneurial success. In fact, the comprehensive Youth Work and Entrepreneurial Learning report (2016), demonstrates that entrepreneurial learning and its associated soft skill development, is particularly powerful when taking place in non-formal and informal settings, including youth work.

SOFTIMPROVE intends to translate it into actionable learning strategies and provide employed and unemployed professionals and aspiring and confirmed entrepreneurs with the soft skills necessary for employability, career and business success while creating synergies between vocational education and training and non-formal entrepreneurial learning settings.

In a nutshell, this project is justified in an ever-changing economic environment, which is in an evolution process towards a new professional framework that is more reliant on soft-skills and interpersonal competences. It responds to the need of young professionals and confirmed/aspiring entrepreneurs of enhancing their employability and their probabilities of economic success. More importantly, it responds to the need of training the best professionals for tomorrow, to expand their potential and capabilities to adapt to the new challenges posed by the economic environment.

The objective of SoftImprove is to provide professionals and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and practice of soft skills needed to enhance their employability, improve their career prospects or increase their chance of success as entrepreneurs. The specific objectives of the project are:

  • Characterize soft skills, decipher the role they play in improving employability, career and business and assess professionals and entrepreneurs’ needs and expectations of training on soft skills;
  • Specify and develop a methodology blending in-person teaching and distance learning to train employed and unemployed professionals and aspiring and confirmed entrepreneurs on soft skills along with tools to monitor and assess the trainees’ progress in soft skills;
  • Develop a face-to-face training course on soft skills combining theoretical knowledge, coaching, gamification and peer-to-peer feedbacks to be tested in pilot sessions, evaluated and refined;
  • Construct a distance learning platform on soft skills made up of adapted as well as specifically developed contents;
  • Promote a generation of professionals and entrepreneurs well-aware of and well trained on soft skills with the message than soft skills are as important as hard skills, and that soft skills can be improved through learning.

Research team

CHAMBRE OFFICIELLE DE COMMERCE D'ESPAGNE EN BELGIQUE ET AU LUXEMBOURG, Belgium is leading the project, in collaboration with School of Educaiton, UI, Iceland, Innogate to Europe, Spain, Institut de Preparation a L‘Administratio N et a la Gestion, France, Italienische Handelskammer fur Deutschalnd, Germany and Learning Designers, Estonia.

The SOFTIMPROVE research is participating by investigators at the School of Education, investigator of the study is Svanborg Rannveig Jónsdóttir, professor and Kristín Harðardóttir, Director of The Educational Research Institute, University of Iceland.