In the EU, unemployment in general has been on the rise since 2008, due to the economic crisis which led to considerable job loss and less job offerings. Older workers are struggling to find new jobs despite their experience, and young graduates are struggling to find new jobs, because they have none. The youth unemployment rate in EU in August 2019 was 14,2 % and in the countries represented in the proposal the rate goes from 27,1% in Italy to 14,1% in Belgium, 9,7% in Denmark and 6,9% in the Netherlands. These data do not give evidence to the unbearable fact that in EU, 30% of higher education graduates are working in jobs that do not match their talents or even do not need a university qualification. On the other side, 40% of vacancies cannot be filled, because of skills mismatch and too few people have the preparation, mind-sets and competences to set up their own businesses or look for new opportunities.
Higher education systems are key actors for improving graduates’ employability by strengthening those transversal skills, not specifically related to a particular job, task, academic discipline or area of knowledge but crucial in a wide variety of situations and work settings, such as the ability to work in a team, problem solving and creative thinking, highly required by employers. At the same time the way we work, learn, take part in society and lead everyday life is quickly changing in line with the fast and disruptive technological developments. Thus graduates of any field need to be equipped with the ability to learn and take initiative, as well as with cross-disciplinary knowledge and technical skills.
In a worldwide scenario the number of unemployed people is projected to rise, but this is not because of the economic crisis alone, but also of the industrial automation of processes previously performed by workers. The manufacturing industry is transforming thanks to the industrial IoT and what research refers to as “Industry 4.0”. This is reflected in the machinery installed in the production chains, which comes prepared to incorporate IoT, AI and blockchain in their processes. This transformation needs qualified staff provided not only with technological abilities but with a suitable level of creativity in planning and applying solutions that facilitate the strategic evolution and growth of industry and services for citizens. Unfortunately the academic curricula have not been updated as quickly as the technology has evolved.
The project will provide ICT and Business students with knowledge, competencies and skills enabling them to become the graduates the job market will more and more require. The project will focus on Transportation and Logistics (T&L) that, like most other industries, is currently confronted by an immense change. Due to its multifaceted chacteristics and problems, the solutions proposed will provide a useful toolkit for many other sectors.
The General Objective to provide the right graduate profiles, will be achieved through the specific objectives:
To achieve these objectives, teachers need to update their teaching and assessing methods, students need to acquire and develop transversal skills and institutions need to allocate resources to professional development activities. Therefore, the project will address students, teachers, university governance and representatives from labour market.
The INCO-SMRT project will develop six intellectual outputs:
and four multiplier events (three local training seminars and one international conference).
The problems tackled by the project are shared all over the world, thus exchange of good practices among institutions with different scope and organization and from north and south countries ensures a better approach and a wide spread of outcomes and results.
Focusing on T&L sector, the project contributes to close the highlighted knowledge gap and skills mismatch enabling ICT and Business students to become the graduates that job market will increasingly require. Strategies, teaching and learning methods, flexibility, innovative assessment procedures, curricula design with a strong cross-disciplinary content and transversal skills enhancement, can be reproduced in many other sectors allowing the higher education institutions and systems to renovate and provide the graduates of tomorrow.