Dr.Liisa Timonen

Head of Internationalisation, ECMT+ project coordinator, Karelia University of Applied Sciences 

Still today many higher education students and graduates somewhat lack of knowledge and skills to promote businesses and result driven work motivation, employ themselves into the regions and efficiently work in all the time more and more diverse teams. The transversal competences like creativity, initiative, tenacity, teamwork, understanding of risk and responsibility and resilience are more crucial in the future working life than ever. They are said to be the keys for successful working life changing our future in a good way at the times when we are dealing with big challenges like industry 4.0 and the raise of artificial intelligence.

The need of the transversal competence development is relevant in any field of higher education – it includes much more than business or economics: the need is multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary as the working life itself. All the higher education graduates, no matter what is their major or degree, do need these competences and their related skills. This is one of the main reasons behind our ECMT+ project where we collaboratively work to reach our goals.

To my mind, transversal competences are closely embedded into humanity and ability of encountering in one way or another. It is much more than business or profit or start-up creation, it is meeting the others equally, constructively and comprehensively. I see the transversal skills being mainly related to the intrapreneurship, which is needed everywhere. Even though entrepreneurship is considered to be a powerful driver of economic growth and job creation (see for example Entrepreneurship 2020); I think it is intrapreneurship that is seen as a key for employment and success in working life in any field. Actually, the intrapreneurship includes transversal competences and skills. Yet the definition between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship are not solid or easy to define and making the distinctions is always a bit challenging (Lackéus 2015).

The current changes around Europe and more widely (economy, environment, demographics, consumer behaviour, IT, shared economy, robotics, crowd-sourcing, single market, and changes in societies, policy and opening of borders to name some) require new competences and therefore new ways of teaching, too. We need to support learning and also find more ways to make the learning outcomes visible for the students but also for ourselves.

For me it is crucial that the competences and skills we especially need to build are all related to humanity or at least human skills in one way or another. I would say our project is at the same time a great living lab for us to learn and develop ourselves as teachers and other professionals. We can ask ourselves, if we meet with the level of transversal competences and skills and if there would be any areas we would need to especially develop?

ECMT+ challenges us to meet with our tight timetables, big workloads elsewhere, limited project budget recourses, detailed follow-up processes and reporting – all at the same time with relatively ambitious project goals. In addition, we work in a very diverse group of experts ending up with a high number of individuals who are all great professionals in their fields. Even though most of us are highly experienced in many international arena even globally considered, too; this again calls for creativity, teamwork, tenacity, initiative and resilience. When there is a will, there is the result. I see our project as an interesting journey and believe in the end of the project we all have learned a lot!