Studenter på VAKEN intensivvecka i Odense.

Unique project teaches Arcada’s students soft skills for the future

Published: 08.12.2021 / Research

Soft skills are essential in the workplace of the future. To accommodate this need, Arcada together with a group of partners from institutions in the Nordic and Baltic regions is developing a new project helping students to train the required skills.

Creativity, personal leadership, problem solving and critical thinking are some of the soft skills that the project focuses on developing. VAKEN is working on a process that enables training and assessment of soft skills in real-life context with guidance from coaches and in collaboration with companies.

- We have developed a unique learning process. The concept is now being tested through intensive weeks where students from partner universities in several different countries work together in real projects related to working life, says Mikael Forsström, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing and project coordinator at Arcada.

The vision is to bring academic staff, students and companies together. The students work both independently and in groups in real life context with guidance from academic staff in collaboration with companies. With the VAKEN process and toolkit, the students practice their soft skills while developing and presenting new solutions to business problems.

- Working in international teams expanded my social and professional networks. During the sprint week, I got to practice important skills and I also got tools for further development. One of the things I learned was the importance of clear communication in working life, says Jeanina Cooper, student in business administration and participant in the project VAKEN.

Competencies of the future

Hard skills are learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice and education. While hard skills are usually very specific to a person’s role in their company, the soft skills are needed to be successful in nearly any role.

- The goal is to strengthen the student’s employability and accelerate competencies that are needed in their future working life, regardless of what they will work with. Soft skills never get outdated, says Forsström.

When the VAKEN process External link has undergone initial tests, it will be open-sourced and made publicly available. Led by Arcada, the project includes a team drawn from universities in Iceland, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. The project is financed by NORDPLUS.

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Leonardo Espinosa-Leal, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Big Data Analytics. Arcada University of Applied Sciences. E-mail: leonardo.espinosaleal@arcada.fi

Category: Blog