Staffordshire University and Destiny

Staffordshire University is a UK-based Higher Education Institute with a strong history in overseas collaboration and has the infrastructure and experience to run successful EU projects. Over the course of two blogs, we’ll find out more about the role of Staffordshire University as a key partner in the Destiny Project in our interview with Jonathan Westlake, Senior Lecturer at the School of Computing and Digital Technologies and Destiny project academic lead, about why they decided to become a partner and what they hope to achieve representing the health and social care sector.

What can you tell us about the Destiny MOOC project and why do Staffordshire University want to become a partner?

Destiny MOOCs will be designed to help the young and unemployed. The project is comprised of four sectors; health and social care (UK)  engineering (Greece), tourism (Spain) and business (Slovenia). Unemployment amongst the young is high, especially in Greece with at least 50% of 18-24 year olds currently unemployed. The idea behind Destiny is to look at how technology can help tackle unemployment by providing resources which help to equip workers with the skills employers are looking for.

MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses, and they provide another facet to learners in which they can develop their skills and ultimately make them more employable. It’s an academic project to find out what’s “missing” in the education of the young – what do they need? Research from the Destiny project has detected a common theme: a transversal skills or “soft skills” gap. Communication, writing ability, and the confidence to deal with workplace situations were often lacking. A survey was conducted of labour market needs with employers in the partner countries but also across Europe, and also research on work seekers. We wanted to discover what the barriers for employment were. It transpired that the limitations were not just about tech skills but people skills too.

So, how can MOOCs mitigate the issues? We investigated what MOOCs are, how we could use them to tackle unemployment. We considered what they might look like, and what the content would include. All the partners came up with a rationale about the MOOCs they wanted to do. At Staffordshire University we decided to do three mobile app type  MOOCs for the health and social care sector based on resilience, communication and reflection.

The Destiny MOOCs are voluntary to students but they create added value, giving an extra dimension to their CV and making them stand out against the competition.

Part two of our interview with Jonathan will go live on Thursday at 11am.

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