Did the COVID-19 impose or accelerate the change on labour market and world economies? Or did this change start at the beginning of 21st century, and in the past decade and at the beginning of the current one, we were finally ready to embrace the chaos and start learning how to adapt easily and with less resistance to new things? What are we planning to achieve through the Erasmus+ project Open School for Village Hosts and how we can add value by jointly creating Competency framework and on-line course for this new role?
Reskilling and upskilling was the #1 priority for 93% of businesses in 2021. It seems that this trend is not going to stop any time soon. Just a short search of the word “skill” on Google returned 4,700,000,000 results in less than a second. This speaks a lot about the available content related on this topic and the proliferation of companies, blog posts and learning platforms to satisfy the need for knowledge, skills and competences. And if we add related searches to this topic, the number increases to the point where we cannot even pronounce it.
While reading some of the available articles on the topic, it seems that everyone is aware of a couple of things: change is happening – rapidly, everyone is aware of a “skills gap”, we are facing an aging population on the one hand and the existence of a whole new generation, practically born with smart phones in their hands on the other, who will be entering the labour market in the near future. In this new distance and digitalized economy, we have to take the best from both worlds – use the knowledge of the old and the attitude of the young generations to build skills to create a whole new pool of competences, which consequently will lead to personal empowerment and economy growth.
By using design thinking methodology and system thinking approach in competency framework make-up, we were able to define the “as is” state and also envision what we want to accomplish in the future. It took us several months to define ‘Personas’, conduct desk research, map potential practitioners of this new learning curriculum being developed, and to build and validate a competency framework that is robust but modular and applicable throughout Europe.
To achieve such refined yet granulated list of competencies, we combined top-bottom and bottom-up approach. First, we defined a problem, to then find the solution. By gathering seven different organisations from Europe in one Erasmus+ project we have defined the needs, local challenges, issues that rural areas face, and levels of development. We identified the nuances for the particular competencies and skills that need to be developed at the end of the project. We are not designing for their current needs, but for their future needs.
This competency model, designed in this way, allows us to be intentional and focused, having the end user in mind, and help us and future users to achieve their businesses goals and produce modern and innovative business models that are sustainable, both economically and environmentally.
This Competency framework is a foundation for a new job opportunity – the Village Host. The idea is not new, there have been other initiatives with the aim to boost and help drive the revival of rural areas and villages. This time, it is the person at the centre of change, not the geographical area. These carefully selected competences lead to a change in behaviour and are transversal, so once adopted, can be transferred and applied in numerous situations.
The model we have created allows for repetition and iteration. If a person chooses to work on specific competencies, he or she can validate it through learning outcomes in every step of the learning process, and if not satisfied, can easily return to previous steps, find the gap, and repeat the process. With this model we aim to build a knowledge base and a safe place where future Village Hosts can validate their achievements through co-operation and peer review.
Our next step is to connect content to the competency model by developing a ToT (Train of trainers) program that will lead to skills development for Village Hosts. And the first thing we need to do is to build rapport with future trainers.
 LifeComp, EntreComp, DigComp, GreenComp
 Tot – Train of Trainers