Technology is changing the world. Students today need not only hard skills but also so-called soft competencies: leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence. A study by LinkedIn found that 92 per cent of respondents think that soft skills are more important than technical capabilities, while 89 per cent claim that bad employees do not have soft skills. According to Marta Talandytė, a graduate of European Studies at KTU Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (SHMMF), extra-curricular activities while studying is one of the ways that helps to form soft skills.
“Contemporary society is changing all the time and demanding innovation. Therefore, a person must also adapt. It is not enough to just study; it is also important to develop yourself as a person and to improve different skills. Extra-curricular activities at the university might reveal skills you didn’t know that you had”, says Talandytė, Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) graduate.
She says that employers want their staff to know how to work with computer programmes, to have professional knowledge and skills, but soft skills help to find a job and are useful in day-to-day activities.
However, it can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to prove non-formal competencies and the employer has to trust whatever is written in the CV or to depend on the information said during the interview.
Since 2016, KTU BadgeCraft digital badges, an innovative digitised way to recognise non-formal learning and education. The University is the only higher education institution to have implemented a credible way to recognise soft competencies.
“It is a unique opportunity to have proof of all the competencies developed while studying in one place. When applying for a new job, the certificate can be attached. Many international companies value that an employee is proactive and has different competencies – digital badges can prove a range of them”, says Marta Talandytė.
Every expert needs soft skills
To become competitive in today’s job market, one should invest in themselves. According to experts, extra-curricular activities at the university or college improve employability chances. They also help to develop soft skills, such as leadership, communication, teamwork, job interview skills, time management and flexibility.
„KTU offers a range of different extra-curricular activities available to everyone for free. As a chair of KTU SHMMF Students’ Union, I realised that it is important to remind people to get out of their comfort zone and try themselves in different areas”, says Talandytė.
She believes that extra-curricular activities develop both hard and soft skills that are essential today. They also allow getting involved in different projects, scholarship programmes and internships.
“I know many people who, after graduation, regret that they didn’t get involved in university life beyond studies and now they are paying money for the same activities. All extra-curricular activities are a way to establish new contacts, to meet people who might become your business partners or future employees”, says KTU graduate.
Digital badges are a global phenomenon
Involvement with university’s organisations is not the only possibility to “earn” digital badges. KTU cooperates with business representatives that share their expertise with students. They lead various seminars, invite to different discussions or workshops. Usually, during these seminars, a student does not get any certificate, but digital badges remain as proof acquired via non-formal learning.
Today many aspects of life are becoming digitalised, especially, in the job market. Digital badges are a way to receive a personal file of competencies together with a university diploma, both on paper and in digital format. An app on a smartphone or a computer provides access to all the achievements earned that can be shared on social media or professional networks. Digital badges are available in both Lithuanian and English languages, and many international companies recognise the value of it.
“I used digital badges when submitting applications for the scholarship, internship and traineeship, and sometimes while applying for a job”, says Talandytė.
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