Rationale and background to the project

After more than a decade after the moment when the European Council formulated the Lisbon strategy, expressing the ambition of making EU "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010", it is now widely accepted that knowledge is the third key factor, besides labour and capital, for the economic growth of any country.

On the other hand, the Helsinki Communiqué on Enhanced European Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training (2006) states that the education and training systems of the Member-States should focus on improving its attractiveness, image and prestige, which can be enhanced through an increase in vocational guidance devices, connecting training facilities with employers, greater qualification of educational agents, in addition to reinforcing partnership practices and cooperation. Through this, and considering the certainty of the predominant role of the educational and training agents to improve the attractiveness and quality of training systems, the project aims to be an important contribution in the sense that it relies on the upgrade the qualifications as an action strategy.

The issues relating to education and training have taken on a new focal point in public policy, in favour of the promotion of employability by the high qualified workforce. Currently, taking into account the new challenges posed by the economic downturn that Europe faces, the Agenda for New Skills for New Jobs, will have a decisive role in increasing employability, both quantitatively and qualitatively. In a dynamic and highly competitive world, knowledge is intrinsically linked to learning and innovation.

The main objective for the education development is to match the requirements of the labour market. To make this possible, it is necessary to develop innovative teaching tools that can be implemented within traditional education systems at universities or on any other level of education. To save time, costs and make education more available for students, new e-learning tools should be invented.

Considering the importance of a systematic education for creativity and innovation, it is surprising to notice that there are very few funded projects on this topic within the European LLP framework. Our preliminary research found only two such projects, namely the TETRIS project (Teaching TRIZ at school) and Teaching Innovation, and these projects are far from covering all the aspects of this vast domain of education.

In this context, the TECRINO project is based on the Community principles, since its central objective is the improvement of the educational performance. It assumes that innovation and creativity can be taught, and aims to develop appropriate courseware for improving the awareness of teachers and students about the mental processes and educational techniques required by the concept of education for creativity.

Creativity is a multidimensional and dynamic process, involving conscious mental activity, affectivity, motivation and social interaction. Therefore, the TECRINO project, unlike previous similar projects, will attempt not just to teach creativity techniques (e.g. TRIZ), but to teach for creativity, i.e. to develop the general ability to solve problems in a creative way. To this purpose, we will consider at least the following aspects of the educational process:

  • Defining educational objectives and building motivation of the students (especially intrinsic motivation)
  • Building basic skills
  • Acquisition of domain-specific knowledge
  • Encouraging and rewarding curiosity and exploration
  • Creating opportunities for choice and discovery
  • Developing metacognitive skills (awareness of the neuro-psychological processes related to learning and creativity, self-management)
  • Teaching strategies and techniques to foster creative performance
  • Providing positive feedback

Thus, the TECRINO project directly addresses the key competence #5 —; learning to learn of the European Reference Framework "Key Competences for Lifelong Learning" by creating not only a problem solving attitude, but also the ability of the students to handle obstacles in a rapidly changing environment.

In what concerns the structure of the TECRINO consortium and the background of the project partners, it is important to note that one of the partners acquired valuable experience in a previous project Training Innovation.

Two other partners are Universities with significant experience in producing quality educational materials, and the other partners are experienced VET providers. One of them specializes in assessment and certification of the educational programmes.

This structure guarantees not only that TECRINO will go beyond the state of the art and produce valuable learning objects, but also that the results will be properly disseminated.

Among the tangible results expected in this project we count:

  • Development of the educational content of the course as reusable digital objects in several EU languages
  • Integrated in an e-learning platform
  • Actual delivery of the course to two groups of teachers and students
  • Evaluation of the results

Intangible results include:

  • Support of innovation improvements in vocational education through implementation of Course on Developing creative thinking as a part of university and LLL education
  • Improve the quality and increase the volume of co-operation between institutions or organisations providing learning opportunities from several EU countries

How we plan to achieve this

TECRINO can be summarised in the creation of:

  • A group of modular training itineraries to qualify the group in the valorisation, development and mobilisation of competences linked to innovation learnt in informal contexts.
  • A group of didactic guides in cd-rom format (trainer's version and trainee's version) to valorise, develop and mobilise the competences linked to innovation learnt in informal contexts.

The structure of the project is composed of the following working stages:

  • Constitution of the management and quality organs and making the working, quality and valorisation plans operational.
  • Design and verification by experts of the pedagogic itinerary and the supporting didactic resources.
  • Pilot experience for the validation of the pedagogic itinerary and the supporting didactic resources.
  • Mediatisation and Edition of the resulting products.
  • Dissemination and Exploitation of training innovation product.

TECRINO will provide the training professionals (trainers, managers, guiders) with the necessary tools to face the challenges of a new society, defined by the RENEWED LISBON STRATEGY and the Communication SEC (2008) 3058 New skills for new jobs anticipating and matching labour market and skills needs, in which lifelong learning, constant change and innovation are basic premises both for personal and professional success. With TECRINO the training professionals will have the opportunity to be able to develop the competences linked to innovation in their daily work with their students.

Evaluation and certification process in TECRINO

To ensure the quality of all processes and the results, a project related QM system will be implemented by Syntea S.A., based on the European Common Quality Assurance Framework (ECQAF). For the purpose of the WP6 – quality management and certification the VCC system will be used. System will assure certification of the new skill and knowledge according to the European Qualification Framework.

Vocational Competence Certificate (VCC) is an uniform system of education and certifying vocational competences acquired outside the formal education system. The idea of VCC was a result of observing changes occurring on labour market and was created by taking into account such issues as cooperation and integration of knowledge and vocational skills with the needs of companies operating on international labour market. Research shows that well developed and completely new professional skills will be required for finding a job in the future. The economic crisis, as well as factors such as globalization, technological changes, an ageing society and the transition to a low-emission economy, are the main causes of the rapid changes occurring in the European labour markets. These rapid changes result in a lack of appropriate skills needed in some sectors or professions within the European Union.

VCC follows the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 regarding the education services:

- A DIGITAL AGENDA FOR EUROPE

VCC system offers ICT training modules – dedicated to the profession. Taking into account that the ICT became inseparable part of everyday work activities accurate IT skills and knowledge will help to fulfill the requirements of the employers.

- INNOVATION UNION

The VCC Foundation actively participates in the projects aiming at development of innovative learning solutions to promote excellence in education and skills development. Together with the group of vocational advisers and accredited VCC trainers, experts Foundation works on the development of transversal skills suitable for the new vocations as well as the boost in the entrepreneurship.

- YOUTH ON THE MOVE

VCC system aims to fill the gaps in the young people education and increase theirs mobility: national and international. By the innovative e-learning tools to assess skills and competences, educational platform and select trainings in particular vocation VCC system will help to increase the youth-employment rate in line with the wider EU target of achieving a 75% employment rate for the working-age population (20-64 years).
VCC standard includes professional foreign language.

- AN AGENDA FOR NEW SKILLS AND JOBS

VCC model is in line with the main aims of the agenda: forecasting of the future needs within the qualification area and adaptation of qualifications to current labour market needs. Gaining new skills and updating the already acquired competences are more and more indispensable in the professional career development.

- AN INDUSTRIAL POLICY FOR THE GLOBALIZATION ERA

It also supports the initiative “An industrial policy for the globalization era” by ensuring right skills and competences of the workforce in the European industry. The VCC select competences educational paths are the answer to the mismatch of the skills of the labour force and the rapidly changing job positions. Modernization of the industrial structures in Europe 2020 will call for new skills, new working conditions and more frequent career shifts, the educational sector has to follow the changes and be open to the needs of the labour force.

- EUROPEAN PLATFORM AGAINST POVERTY

Low skills, lack of language competences or practical knowledge contribute to temporary, low-paid jobs or unemployment and as a consequence to poverty and exclusion among the young people. To bring them into employment and better life condition VCC system proposes the career guidance and flexible learning solutions to support mobility and personal development among Europeans.

A model of the European social market economy presented in Europe 2020 Strategy is to be based, to a greater extent than to date on the three priorities that depend on and supplement each other:

  • Intelligent growth resulting in development of knowledge-based economy and innovations,
  • Balanced growth,
  • Social inclusion - friendly growth as a supporting economy with a high employment level and providing citizens with social and economic integrity.

Five measurable development aims has been defined as a consequence of abovementioned priorities. These goals ought to be reached on the European level until 2020:

  • Unemployment rate amounting to 75%,
  • Improving conditions for undertaking and participating in research and development activities,
  • Reducing emission of greenhouse gases by 20%,
  • Increasing level of education,
  • Supporting the social inclusion.

According to Europe 2020 goals lifelong learning will be implemented in various formal, non-formal and informal ways. In case of the formal system, qualifications are certified institutionally. This obviously guarantees their acknowledgeability. It is, however difficult to certify learning effects achieved in informal and non-formal way, whereas the latter method is an indispensable element of lifelong learning. This problem may be solved by VCC a unified system verifying knowledge and skills acquired aside from the formal system. The main assumption of the VCC certification system is to provide employers with reliable and comprehensive information on the employees’/potential employees’ qualifications. This is possible due to dependability, reliability and objectivity of examinations set by independent entities, i.e. Examination Partners. Being successful in examinations is confirmed by a certificate with supplement including information on what learning outcomes have been achieved by the examined person. These particulars also include a percentage ratio of outcomes achieved within specific areas.

The VCC Select Competences Certificate proposed within the project will confirm competences in creativity in the engineering sector.

More about the VCC system: www.vccsystem.eu