The NESSIE Project (Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation) aims to transfer a soft skills development product from an educational context, into a workplace context. The methodology for developing and assessing soft skills to better prepare users for work came from a previous TOI project where it was successfully used with young disadvantaged learners (MASS – Measuring and Assessing Soft Skills). Paper based learning materials were transferred into an online learning course and translated in each partner language, then uploaded onto an e-learning platform.
The NESSIE Project developed an e-learning course around two main soft skills: “Self Awareness” and “Planning and Organising.”
The piloting activity was planned with 360 final users in mind. However 609 people participated.
The roll out activities started in February 2014 and continued till June 2014. Partners agreed recruitment targets of job seekers and employees and were free to approach the use of the material in whatever way was best for their specific national economic and social contexts. Of the methods used, training of mentors prior to recruitment (Germany), organising dissemination events to interest potential users followed by workshops (Greece) and a targeted Facebook campaign followed by telephone support (Romania) proved the most effective.
Of the 609 users who completed the pilot, 190 employees, 99 job seekers and 60 mentors went on to complete the detailed evaluative questions.
Overall the evaluation shows that the project has had positive impacts on many users. The course has supported 72% of learners to change their soft skill behaviours. Although most learners did not have technical problems using NESSIE e-learning, there remains some debate about whether the web platform is user friendly enough.
Workplace users responded slightly better to the course than job seekers. 73% of employees agreed that they received better feedback from trainers or employers. 80% identified improvements in their own job performance following the training. 90% feel they have improved their CVs. All participants were able to identify some area where their lives had improved. We conclude that for the majority of employed users, the NESSIE e-learning has had real impacts on their professional lives.
60% of job seekers agreed that they received better feedback from trainers or mentors. 63% felt they had enhanced their performance. 75% felt they improved their CVs. 59% felt more self confident during job seeking. Although these are positive results, when participants’ comments are considered, some users did not see the connection between improved soft skills and improved employment prospects. This could be a reflection of their pessimism about their local labour market and their chances of finding a job, or could be an issue of guidance from mentors.
For mentors, 81% at the end of the mentoring experience had improved professional relationships with their trainees/mentees and 65% of mentors felt they gained new competences.
National differences were significant in many instances. Impacts were more consistently and more clearly demonstrated on Romanian, Greek, Italian and UK participants, and less so on German, Dutch and Swedish participants. The northern European countries were more likely to state that there was nothing new in the NESSIE and that it was harder to engage with employers and recruit employees to participate in the pilot. Soft skills development is quite well developed in these countries so impacts have been fewer.
UK, Italian, Greek and Romanian participants responded more enthusiastically and positively, reporting significant improvements and enjoyment of the learning material. Where soft skills innovation is new, results were significant with employees, job seekers and mentors. The economic context in these countries also plays a part.
NESSIE e-learning succeeds in making an impact on its users, largely relative to the amount of exposure to soft skills training users have had previously. The e-learning approach is more positively received in the work place.
We feel that this consortium has made a positive contribution to the soft skills training environment in Europe and that individuals’ skills and some individuals’ lives have been improved as a result of participation.