Poor soft skills are linked to a range of labour market problems: high staff turnover/difficulty recruiting (particularly in the young); lack of ability to compete; inability to cope with change; reasons for staff dismissal & problems in school to work transition. Several European employer surveys endorse the following soft skills as essential but often missing: team working, communication, problem solving & motivation. VET providers in Italy, Sweden, NL, Romania, Greece & Germany are trying to respond to these identified skills problems by offering new approaches to training to develop these skills using learning outcomes/competence-based approaches. However a lack experience assessing soft skills & attitudes & an absence of suitable training material is hampering progress.

NESSIE project develops educational materials in cooperation with VET providers & employers to both train workers in the workplace & unemployed job seekers, and importantly assess these essential soft skills. The training & assessment methods are based on an innovative approach, proven to work with disadvantaged learners in VET classroom contexts (TOI MASS 2009), which will under this project, be adapted & enhanced for use in the work place and with employment training in 7 countries. Further development of these methods, address some of the above labour market problems & satisfies employer demand.

High unemployment rates in Europe, plus growing recognition of the importance of soft skills demonstrates the need for better links between VET & employers. NESSIE offers innovation in workplace training, linking with HR development to implement work-based learning consistent with labour market needs. NESSIE will strategically and operationally involve labour market organisations & VET (companies, VET providers, public & private employment services & public authorities). Cooperation takes place within the consortium and through national networks which are established to support the project. This diverse group of actors together ensure that resulting products accurately satisfy skill needs.

Products are targeted at 2 distinct groups: employed people in the workplace in a range of sectors; & job seekers on employment training programmes.

Starting in October 2012 the project runs for 2 years. It begins with research and needs analysis, followed by adaptation and development of existing products to suit the new target groups. Learning materials (which will be accredited to SCQF for EQF translation) and an accompanying Train the trainer toolkit will be tested with at least 360 participants & evaluated by May 2014.

Results of this testing will be published & promoted through networks, ongoing dissemination events and a final EU wide event in Brussels. It is expected that end users will experience positive impacts such as improved confidence in job search and improved performance at work. Impacts will be measured by thorough evaluation.

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