Universiteit Leiden

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European Education project on skills Humanities students

With what skills do Humanities students distinguish themselves on the labour market? How can we offer students insight into their personal profile? Can they train and monitor their skills and increase their chances on the labour market this way?

With a European grant, the Faculty of Humanities has entered a three-year collaboration with KU Leuven, the University of Helsinki and the employment agency Randstad Belgium to answer these and other questions and to develop online tools for lecturers and students. This project dovetails with our ambition to improve the connection with the labour market for our students. We are still looking for a lecturer and study coordinator to provide regular feedback on the designs and tools.

At the basis of our Erasmus+ project is a survey on the profile of Humanities students. This survey, set up by researchers at KU Leuven, addresses questions such as: "What skills and attitudes do our students learn from their discipline?", "What skills and attitudes can the study programme focus more on in the future?" and "How can students and the faculty develop a stronger profile?". In February 2021, research previously carried out in Leuven will be repeated in Leiden and Helsinki, enabling the creation of an international comparison. The aim of the strategic partnership between the three universities and employment agency Randstad is to make the transition of Humanities students to the labour market easier.

Why focus on the skills of our students?

We can see that developments in the global economy are increasing the demand for highly qualified graduates. At the same time, because developments are so rapid, knowledge quickly seems outdated. Employers in Europe are therefore increasingly looking for employees with certain skills. Within a Humanities study programme, students learn skills that are also relevant outside of the academics, so-called transferable skills. However, students and lecturers are better at identifying the specific knowledge they have acquired during their studies than the associated attitudes and cognitive, social and communication skills. In view of economic developments and the wishes of employers, it is therefore important for lecturers and students to recognise and be able to identify these skills and attitudes. As well as that the faculty presents the disciplinary profile to the outside world in a sharper way. Within the project, Randstad will increase students' insight into their transferable skills through mock interviews.

The project and our part

The title of the project honoured with a European grant is Awareness of Student's Skills: an Employability Toolkit for the Humanities (ASSET-H). In February 2021, the previously mentioned questionnaire will be distributed to second- and third-year bachelor’s and master’s students in Helsinki and Leiden. The results of the questionnaire will be analysed by researchers at KU Leuven. Based on the results of the survey, two online modules will be developed. One module for lecturers to design skills courses. And one module for students to monitor and train their personal skills. Responsibilities are divided among the four partners. Our faculty is specifically responsible for the development and testing of the online training module for students. The coordination of the project as a whole is the responsibility of KU Leuven. At our faculty, Sanne Arens coordinates the project and portfolio holder Mirjam de Baar holds the final responsibility.

Educational innovation meets labour market preparation

This project contributes to our ambition to innovate education and to strengthen the connection between our Humanities students and the labour market. The recently announced collaboration between our faculty and Randstad matches this ambition. This way, we want to take major steps in terms of labour market preparation in the coming years.

Do you want to contribute to this project?

For the stakeholder board, we are looking for a lecturer, a study coordinator and a student who have an affinity with skills, ICT and education or labour market preparation. We are also looking for lecturers and students to set up and test the tools. Interested? Please contact Sanne Arens.

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