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Matching Competences – Training visits held

Graz. The Tempus project “Competence: Matching Competences in higher education and economy” was the reason why academic staff from different universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia came together to participate in a training on labour market oriented teaching and studying at the University of Applied Sciences Joanneum and at the WUS Austria Head Office in Graz.

Nowadays higher education institutions don’t longer have the privilege to cooperate with the world of work solely on some occasion, they are forced to do so constantly. But how can universities and companies work together, if they speak different languages? How can they match their different competences in various fields?
This is exactly the problem that the project “Competence Matching Competences in higher education and economy” wants to address. By bridging the gap between higher education institutions and stakeholders of the private sector the project aims at improving the overall employability of graduates in the partner countries. The study visit to Graz - undertaken from the 19th to the 20th October 2009 - offered the partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia the opportunity to get insights in new ways of connecting universities to the labour market. By showing best practice examples by the staff from the University of Applied Sciences FH Joanneum the academic staff from the partner countries’ universities were able to receive first hand information on labour oriented teaching and studying. One of these key insights was the fact that today it’s not enough to provide students with technical skills and knowledge. Furthermore it’s also of crucial importance to foster their soft skills in the same breath (e.g. teamwork, language skills etc.). This demand can be successfully met by making internships and teamwork a very prominent part of the curriculum.

During an onsite visit of the facilities of the University all partners could exchange experiences and gather new ideas. For instance they had the possibility to visit the “Vision Space Lab” and the IT technology department “Feel IT”. Beside, the project members had the chance to see labs in the automotive facilities that even students of the university are not allowed to see. After these very informative but also entertaining visits the group attended a workshop session that focused on the creation of a labour oriented curriculum development. With the help and input of experts from the University FH Joanneum the group crafted a fictional curriculum for a bachelor of mechanical engineering with a strong focus on generic competences such as soft skills.

The second day of the visit was used to concretise the next steps within the project and to keep the partners up to date with recently finished activities (such as the new forum inside the project website and the conduction of focus groups at the partner universities). Besides, all involved persons could sum up their impressions of the training and formulate topics which ought to be addressed in further stages of the project. Taken together, the study visit contributed to the capacity building of the involved project partners and took them one step closer to match their competences.