All international BRIDGE+ partners, aimed at policy innovation in “building up, testing and implementing new strategies of skills development on a regional level with the support of innovative technology,” gathered in Östersund (Sweden) on 23-24 May 2019 for their third all‑together meeting in the context of this Erasmus+ KA3 project. The event allowed them to hold discussions about the very essence of skills and competence balancing, and main conclusions pointed at having all actors involved (companies, education and guidance providers, public institutions and individuals) and enabling them to share the same lifelong learning culture.
On the first day, project partners were welcomed to Lärcentrum Östersund by Magnus Andersson, director this adult education organisation of the city of Östersund, and the meeting was chaired by Andrea Bernet-Bürkle, from vhs Baden-Württemberg, BRIDGE+ coordinator. The competence balancing approach was presented by Kees Schuur, from EC-VLP Foundation, who insisted on the importance of social skills and networking for the future of work, rather than hard skills. The importance of guiding learners into becoming their own guides and being able to guide others is key, he argued, with the approval of the guidance experts from Östersund, the Basque Country, Styria and Baden-Württemberg that took part in the meeting.
The day continued with presentations about how companies integrate skills assessment models and tools in their human resources strategies, with the participation of representatives from IUC-Z Group and the Swedish Industrial Validation Consortium (Svensk Industrivalidering). They highlighted the talent challenge for companies,both in terms of finding it and retaining it, and the need of a 360º reflection on companies’ demands, taking also into account “hidden” aspects such as soft skills and psychological elements.
Afterwards, study visits followed, and project partner representatives had the chance to see first-hand how joint language and work-skills training courses are held at the Restaurant Programme in Östersund for third-country nationals, with an essential role of counsellors in the process. This field experiences will help build up new joint strategies for technology-based guidance at regional level, and building bridges with other EU-funded projects such as TALENTS (Erasmus+ KA2) and FIER (EaSI PROGRESS). Back in Östersund Lärcentrum, the final note was provided by Elin Nirjens, from Region Jämtland Härjedalen, who presented the region’s validation tools and strategies in the field.
During the second meeting day, project partners discussed technical issues of the project and set the next steps to be taken. In the following months, a digital platform for regional competence management and career guidance will be developed in Baden‑Württemberg, which is set to serve as an example to other regions and governance levels (local, national, EU) in the field. The next project meeting will take place in autumn 2019 (venue to be confirmed). Also, a dedicated BRIDGE+ workshop will take place in Brussels in the context of the EU Week of Regions and Cities 2019 (7‑10 October 2019) to disseminate the project achievements so far in the heart of Europe.