Three Aurora universities, University Rovira i Virgili, University of Innsbruck, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and together with the Iberoamerican Knowledge Foundation (GECON) have won a Horizon 2020 “Science with and for society” or SWAFs grant in the amount of 297.500 Euros for a total duration of 24 months.
The SWAFs grants have been developed aimed at citizens, organisations and territories and to encourage their engagement in joint research and innovation activities in several strategic orientations. One of these strategic orientations is referred to as the “Research innovation needs & skills training in PhD programmes”. The call envisioned the development of open science and entrepreneurship skills related training to complement existing PhD programmes via innovative open methodologies, and aid PhDs in acquiring skills necessary for labour markets insertion and engagement.
The winning project entitled Video gamEs foR Skills trAining or VERSA aims to complement the current soft skills training of PhD candidates in already existing PhD projects at three Aurora universities and thus improve their employability and engagement with the industrial sector in their respective countries. VERSA will approach the challenges of innovative training for soft skills of PhDs via an online and video game training methodology developed by GECON called soft skills games.
The benefits of the VERSA project are two-fold:
A) the novel methodology will certainly modernise PhD training provision at our universities by offering digital tools for soft skills training (the platform itself can be used for more than soft entrepreneurship skills there are over 20 skills that are covered by GECON’s methodology),
B) the project aims to stimulate employability of PhD graduates by providing training of selective skills that are considered as critical by employers in turbulent academic and non-academic labour markets.
The training will be provided for eight soft skills in total: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Complex Problem Solving, Cognitive Flexibility, People/Team Management, Time Management, Judgement and Decision Making and Goal Setting. Over 70 PhD candidates from different PhD programmes across the three universities will be able to play selected video games in intervals of 2-4 months and enhance all or one of the skills mentioned above.