2022 Retrospective: Step Up-skill & Re-skill

ESSA is stepping up to skill, upskill, and reskill software professionals

ESSA achieved another step in a 3-step approach to skill, upskill, and reskill individuals into in-demand software roles. In 2022, we focused on designing educational profiles, curricula, a certification framework, and an accreditation procedure. The Alliance is now one step closer to shaping the learning programmes and launching its pilots in 2023. 

The road to ESSA learning programmes 

2022 was all about design for ESSA — paving the way to designing curricula and developing learning programmes that are fit for purpose and flexible enough to allow other learning providers and organisations to integrate them into their learning offer.  

Stemming from the strategic roadmap delivered as part of the Software Skills Strategy, the ESSA partners, led by the Dutch and French representations of Global Knowledge, defined the constitutive elements of the 9 educational profiles for software roles — for example, the learning outcomes. They cover 5 software roles at different EQF levels (4-7) including Developer, DevOps expert, Solution designer, Test specialist, and Technical (software) specialist. 

These profiles are useful to everybody, but most importantly, they are a great tool to ensure curricula are comparable. Comparability is crucial. Every learning provider has its own approach to learning (and every local situation is somewhat different) — which makes every curriculum unique, even if they educate or train for the same professional role. What makes curricula comparable is the fact that they are based on the same measurable learning outcomes (presented in the educational profiles). Learning outcomes are also key to making the recognition of non-formal or informal learning possible.

Micro-credentials, digital badges, and the future of learning

The recognition of achieved learning outcomes can be made easier by micro-credentials. The use of certification in the form of a digital badge for instance makes it simple to show that a person has already achieved one or multiple learning outcomes, even if they haven’t completed all learning outcomes part of their desired profile, yet. 

Micro-credentialing seems to offer an adequate solution to the common barriers to upskilling and reskilling for busy professionals and individuals at large. For the ESSA partners, it was thus important to design a certification framework with multiple levels, which makes stacking of micro-credentials possible. 

The framework, which will be published in early 2023, covers all the relevant competences for the 5 in-demand software roles. Existing professional certifications are mapped and matched with the relevant learning outcome they cover. The certification framework can be used in many ways — for instance, to develop a digital badge system or as a mapping tool. 

A glimpse into a practice-oriented 2023… 

In the 2023 “European Year of Skills”, the European Commission plans to fast-track the up- and reskilling of Europeans by leveraging existing EU funds, instruments, and novel skilling approaches delivered by projects such as ESSA. 

ESSA will kick-start the piloting of the learning programmes with our partners and associated partners (interested in collaborating with us, too?), led by the Adecco Group (Mylia) and Hogeschool Utrecht.  

The accreditation procedure has been already developed by ESSA partner ASIIN — an organisation specialised in accreditation — to ensure learning programmes reflect the current (and emerging) market needs and provide learners with the necessary skills and competences to fill in-demand software roles. The accreditation is based on general and subject-specific criteria that adhere to European standards like the ESG (the Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area). 

There will be multiple pilots starting in September (including work-based learning components) — in at least 8 EU countries — and many ways to get involved in the project as well as possible avenues to become ESSA accredited. 

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to join the ESSA Community of Practice (launched in October). It will help you connect with ESSA project partners and experts in the field of digital skills, education and training, and tech.

Photo by Felipe Santana on Unsplash