The NESSIE Project (NEtwork for Soft Skills Innovation in Employment – Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation Project) has produced an online learning programme devised to support development of soft skills and enhance career prospects. Working through two units (Self Awareness and Planning and Organising) plus two activities (Introduction and Final Activity) on the web platform www.nessie-project.org, users can undertake a range of activities which will help personal development and prepare for a successful future.
NESSIE was born from an idea started in a previous Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation project, called MASS (Measuring and Assessing Soft Skills 2009 – 2011). The MASS project successfully transferred and tested a methodology to develop and assess soft skills to better prepare users (mainly, but not exclusively, young disadvantaged people) for work.
All partner countries recognised that adults and young people who are some distance from the labour market (long term unemployed, people with low level or no qualifications, new immigrants, people suffering social or economic disadvantage) lack essential soft skills. These skills include ability to ask for help, time keeping, ownership of tasks, motivation and team working. Paper based resources to teach and assess these soft skills, originally produced in Scotland, UK, were pilot tested amongst the partnership countries. The methodology and related materials were used by 49 teachers/trainers with 213 learners in five countries. Results were overwhelmingly positive showing that the methodology worked in different countries with different cultures and target groups – aged from 14 to 49 years old. All participants reported an improvement in soft skills, increased self-awareness and almost 100% attendance rates during the period of the testing.
The MASS final dissemination event held in Brussels in September 2011 attracted 45 delegates. Following on from the MASS TOI project, whose focus was for Vocational learners in classroom based situations, some delegates expressed the need to transfer this methodology to the workplace context.
The current NESSIE Consortium is a network of actors in vocational education and training and employers who exchange best practice and share new innovations in the measurement and assessment of soft skills. The partnership has acted to transfer methodologies developed and tested under MASS to new target groups – employers, employees, labour market agencies, and vocational education and training organisations to better prepare people for both entering the labour market and maintaining employment.