What does today’s student need to learn to be successful in tomorrow’s labour market? In 2019 Arcada took a giant step forward when the two projects Work-integrated Pedagogy in Higher Education (WORKPEDA) and Arcada Coaching Clinic (ACC) were initiated.
Both projects have spread the entrepreneurial mindset throughout all departments at Arcada.
WORKPEDA is a three-year national project financed by the Ministry for Education and Culture. Among Arcada’s responsibilities is teaching future working-life competencies that students will need in a global labour market. The focus is on developing an entrepreneurial mindset.
– All universities in the project are responsible for their separate areas, but they’re all heading in the same direction. At Arcada all departments are involved. We have to help bring universities and working-life experience closer together; both European and national goals support this. Universities must contribute to public welfare and to a sustainable future, says Camilla Wikström-Grotell, responsible for the project and Director of Academic Partnerships.
In the WORKPEDA context Arcada hosted the NORDYRK Conference in June 2019.
– NORDYRK is a research conference for people working with research and development in vocational education and training. The conference, with the theme “Learning and working life competencies in a future perspective – challenges in professional education”, was a success, with over 150 participants from all the Nordic countries, says Wikström-Grandell.
Transdisciplinarity creates added value
To strengthen the entrepreneurial mindset at Arcada, students should be given opportunities to gain credits in other ways besides traditional courses. In 2019 a 30-credit module in working-life competence was developed within the framework of WORKPEDA: My Future Work Life. The pilot project started in the autumn of 2019.
– This module covers a complete academic year and works with the competencies students need in working-life contexts, both as entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in a business or an organisation.
Our aim is to help our students to be as well-equipped as possible for working life” says Mervi Hernberg, Entrepreneurship Coach at Arcada.
– The entire module was created from a co-creation concept, and since our work has been interdisciplinary we’ve managed to create new teacher teams. This has an added-value aspect: the simulation facilities used in the department for Health and Welfare and Nursing have been used by one of our teacher teams for creating new simulation exercises relating to job interviews, body language and communication. These new methods have been greatly appreciated by the participants, Hernberg continues.
Soft skills as an asset
The Arcada Coaching Clinic (ACC) is another project focusing on preparing students for future working-life skills. This project is financed by the Lindstedt Foundation and has worked in close cooperation with WORKPEDA in order to boost the entrepreneurial mindset and develop concrete activities at Arcada. Christa Tigerstedt, Head Teacher in Economics and ACC-coach, has been in charge of the pedagogical part of the ACC project, i.e. the course Creating Work-life Skills in an Entrepreneurial Environment. Before the course was launched in January 2019 Tigerstedt worked hard at identifying the key components in working life of the future.
– We have studied tens of international reports. Some of the competencies we’ve identified have been soft skill-competencies such as learning, curiosity, communication and working independently.
A group of students participating in the Arcada Coaching Clinic.
The idea is to identify those competencies relevant to a rapidly changing world and to create opportunities for all students at Arcada to learn these skills. And here the competency to learn is as important as an entrepreneurial frame of mind.
– Learning competency is all about seeing “learning” as not being tied to a specific course, ending when you’ve graduated. We want to strengthen our students’ capacity to keep on learning in their future undertakings as well, says Tigerstedt.