1 Oct 2016 – 30 Sep 2018

Development and validation of inter-cultural competences amongst VET professionals to improve the delivery of VET mobility programmes in the EU

Intercultural competences are becoming more important as EU Member States become increasingly diverse and EU citizens more mobile.  “In 2008, the Council of Europe’s White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue: Living Together as Equals in Dignity identified intercultural education as one of several key areas where action is required to enhance intercultural dialogue to safeguard and develop human rights,  democracy and the rule of law. The White Paper viewed intercultural competence as a crucial capability, which needs to be developed by every individual to enable them to participate in intercultural dialogue. Intercultural competence is not acquired automatically, but instead needs to be learned, practiced and maintained throughout life.”

In a multilingual EU with an increasing demand of free movement of labor and students, (see “Europe 2020” Flagships “Youth on the Move” – “An Agenda for new skills and jobs” and “ET 2020” Strategic Objective 1: “Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality”) the notion of cultural competence in VET system can be seen to come from very divergent sources. The current economic situation, characterized by high levels of unemployment and still persistent job vacancies in some sectors, highlights the major skill challenges Europe is facing in terms of labor mobility — both geographical and occupational.

Eurofound research found that there is a number of impediments to mobility of learners and workers, which should be addressed by governments, social partners and VET organizations in the EU.  The project’s transnational dimension (IT, UK, FR, CY) is necessary as these mismatches can be addressed by better matching the labor supply (with the right skills/educational qualifications/location) and labor demand defining common VET actions at European Level. Keeping VET providers intercultural competences up-to-date is a key imperative for VET organizations as they continue to be active agents in meeting the objectives of government, industry and individuals. Delivering successful VET programs transnationally, developing and improving cultural competences for VET trainers managing with students/workers involved in EU Mobility schemes can drive the lifelong learning growth of trainers and learners and the economic growth too, in a globalized system with a highly mobile population where all require high levels of cultural competence in each EU Countries, both to comprehend the world around us and to change it for the better.

Intercultural competence is a continuous process of assessing and broadening our knowledge and respect for differences, as well as better understanding, experiencing and exploring our own. It is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a labor system, VET agencies or among professionals and enables them to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.  In the EU explicit attention to cultural competence in the field of training and education is more commonly found in Europe 2020 (see above) which clearly calls for more innovation in EU, which requires key competences such as learning to learn, social and civic competences, initiative-taking, media literacy including the critical understanding of media content, cultural awareness and self – expression.

An underlying assumption is this project is that no single individual or institution can claim comprehensive knowledge of all cultural practices and competencies across the EU. What we can do, however, is enable VET providers to acquire understanding of how their own cultural competence works in a way that opens their minds to their cultural competences. In other words, both the pedagogical model and the general model of cultural competence lead to learners’ upskilling each other.

The main objectives of the Project are to:

  • to foster social inclusion and integration of young adult people / ethnic communities / migrants / marginalized groups through mobility programs
  • to upskill the development of cultural competence skills among VET professionals responsible for organizing VET Mobility programs across EU.
  • to develop and test a program in cultural competency in line with the European Reference Framework (ECVET) to have qualified Intercultural VET Providers.
  • to explore the development of an intercultural competency framework with links to NQF and EQF.
  • to increase the quality and experience of mobility across the EU by embedding cultural competency in VET programs for the benefit of the learners/workers and the wider economy.

The main target groups are staff/VET practitioners/providers who are responsible for Mobility Programs in VET organizations. Beneficiaries of the results of the project will be young people and adults (mainly migrants, ethnic minority people and communities with a migrant background) involved in VET mobility programs. Stakeholders and other participants will be involved in local promotional events and the finale seminar.

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Health Points

Health Points addresses European trainers, educators tutors that work with these young adults. Being able to raise interest and motivation in this area is a major challenge. Hence, the project will follow a game based blended learning approach to make use of the existing positive attitude towards using online games and social media – in combination with an accompanied training offer and guided learning opportunities.

The objectives of Health Points are to:

  • Develop a game based approach and learning game to provide an attractive access to information on health prevention and education for young disadvantaged groups;
  •  Equip trainers, educators and youth workers with an innovative tool to promote awareness for and provide information on health related topics in their training or in any other context or initiative addressing young disadvantaged people.

Which ultimately aims to:

  • Reduce unhealthy behaviour patterns and lifestyle diseases among young adults;
  • Promote motivation for self-responsibility and changing unhealthy behaviours into healthier ones;
  •  Empower young adults to take care of themselves as important contribution to their employability and active citizenship.

In the first phase the specific needs and interests in terms of health education and promotion as well as perceived barriers will be explored by means of interviews and dedicated focus groups involving both trainers and young adults themselves. On the basis of findings from this activity, the methodological concept will be created, with specified learning objectives, together with the organisational structure of the training programme (game and setting according to the contextual surroundings) will be set up. The learning game will be the technical realisation of the methodological concept. A technical framework will incorporate ‘gamification’ and ‘nudging’ aspects. Its goal is to create an highly interactive learning environment and resources for trainers and learners. The learning game will be implemented in a fully responsive HTML5 framework supporting smartphones, tablets, desktops and notebooks.  

The game-based approach to Health Points with be designed to be integrated into existing educational initiatives for young disadvantaged adults. Trainers and facilitators  working in these contexts will be supported to use the game as an integrated, interactive learning resource that will be accessible and attractive to their learners, using techniques, devices and media that respond to many disadvantaged young adults positive responses to non-formal and non-traditional learning programmes. Health points incorporates robust processes for the testing and validation of its design. Feedback and experience will be gathered in order to adapt and improve the approach. The piloting will also be used to evaluate changes in motivation, action taking and awareness towards health literacty issues among the beneficiaries and to validate competency developments. This will be published together with an assessment of the results and case studies will be compiled in an impact study report. The project will be completed by the production of an e-Manual guidance publication. It will describe the design and use of the Health Points Programme and the game in a user-friendly and non technical language. This will provide background information on the importance of promoting health and well-being literacy and awareness to young adults, and highlight the reasons why the learning targets were chosen and why they are relevant for young socially disadvantaged adults.

Health Points will create very concrete products that can be used also beyond its life cycle in many different settings involving young disadvantaged adults. Health Points will positively effect their attitude towards health prevention and lead to a healthy lifestyle and an increase in their employability.