ENTREPRENEURSHIP SKILLS MISMATCH
The report1 published by the World Economic Forum, in 2016, estimates that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist”.
Several other reports have since then been published, including form CEDEFOP, that produced similar conclusions.
This coincides with the increasing demand of the labour market for transversal skills, an in particular those associated with entrepreneurship, as future jobs “rely more on creativity, context adaptability, task discretion, social skills and tacit cognitive capacities”2. “A 2016 survey by the World Economic Forum, focusing on the impact of technological change, found that employers rank creativity as one of the top three attributes or skills needed in the workspace by 2020”3. Since then, the World Economic Forum has been publishing more articles supporting this idea:
“Modern careers require creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, writing ability, presentation skills and negotiation.” – 20194.
In this context, the European Commission5 responded with “A renewed EU agenda for higher education”, declaring that “capacities to process large amounts of information, make critical judgements, communicate and cooperate effectively, think entrepreneurially and adapt rapidly to changing contexts are more important than ever”.
1 “The Future of Jobs - Global Challenge Insight Report”, published by the World Economic Forum in January 2016.
2 Frey & Osborne (2013). The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? University of Oxford, UK.
3 COM (2017) 247 final.
4 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (2019). 5 ways students can graduate fully qualified for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
5 COM (2017) 247 final.
THE ROLE OF HEIS' EDUCATORS FOSTERING INNOVATION
Despite the fact that practitioners (including those in HEI) and policy makers “are increasingly focusing on creating favourable conditions for entrepreneurial thinking, networking, creativity and risk taking”6, the global change is faster than the answer in place – “too many graduates leave HEI with poor basic skills and without a range of transversal skills”7. Thus, “promoting, assessing and rewarding these skills sets in higher education, alongside acquisition of detailed subject knowledge, is one of the challenges faced by teaching staff across Europe”8.
Research confirms that educators may develop innovation competences by participating in problem-based game design processes. Hanghoj & Sorensesn (2013) referred that when teachers facilitate game-oriented learning activities they may also be creating and taking part in collaboration through innovative problem solving in a specific domain and with particular knowledge practices.
6 COM (2017) 247 final.
ESCAPES ROOMS AS AN ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM
There has been a growing interest in Escape Room worldwide as we can find in several news (e.g. New York Times). This type of games has already gathered the interest of educators and researchers, in understanding how these experiences can be part of learning activities – gaining from the high interest of the students - and requiring players to apply their knowledge and creative thinking skills to accomplish a specific goal, in a limited amount of time. Scott Nicholson (2015) demonstrates how “escape rooms require teamwork, communication, and delegation as well as critical thinking, attention to detail, and lateral thinking. They are accessible to a wide age range of players and do not favour any gender; in fact, the most successful teams are those that are made up of players with a variety of experiences, skills, background knowledge, and physical abilities”9.
In Europe, one can find HEIs implementing a game based approach in learning settings (e.g. Aalborg University, Denmark; Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands) and, specifically, escape games “as immersive scenarios for the classroom, as part of a series of “assessment centre” activities, as a successful playful alternative to library and study skills sessions run by the librarians, and as projects for teaching enterprise and employability skills” (at Leeds Trinity University), but also as an activity for teaching a specific domain such as entrepreneurship (at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences).
9. Nicholson, S. (2015). Peeking behind the locked door: A survey of escape room facilities. White Paper available at http://scottnicholson.com/pubs/erfacwhite.pdf
All things considered, UNLOCK project comes as an initiative from a group of Higher Education Institutions and businesses from 6 European countries – Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Lithuania - to develop a learning tool capable of equipping HEIs in the design and implementation of learning solutions based in these game approach.
The end goal is to raise the entrepreneurial skills in both students and educators, leading to the strengthening of their creativity and employability.