The project #empl-oi - European Mobility Placements for Open Innovation – aims to facilitate high quality student mobility and carry out an innovative part-time placement scheme. It allows students to earn competencies that are valuable in the labor market and thereby increase the employability of prospective graduates. The involvement of professionals in the project activities and the experience they share allows the students a more hands-on curriculum that is attuned to the current needs of the job market. #empl-oi fosters dynamic and targeted cooperation between international universities and companies by requiring that students act across traditionally set boundaries.
An Innovative and Challenging Project
Major challenges push #empl-oi to emerge:
- Students are not fluent in the local language and are not familiar with the foreign job market; therefore finding an appropriate host organization is the first obstacle that students encounter.
- Entrepreneurial skills can vary greatly among countries and are not sufficiently integrated in the current curricula of most universities. There are skills mismatches, in particular of transversal and entrepreneurial skills.
- Cooperation across borders is not equally common, as it requires exchange between European actors (employers and academic staff) to realize a project.
Vision and Goals
The core elements in #empl-oi are to strengthening higher education mobility and cross-border cooperation. Within this framework, the project’s goal is to address the challenge of student employability and the need to increase the relevance of education by tackling existing skills mismatches of the current system. These elements can be addressed with the following suggestions:
- Promote one year long mobility, rather than single semester stays to allow for deeper immersion in the host county (culture-wise, language-wise);
- Add an extra dimension while studying aboard, by engaging in professional activities in addition to academic experience abroad (part-time placements in addition to academic studies);
- Have student tandems and therefore promoting the concept of internationalization at home and providing an opportunity for non-mobile students to increase awareness about cultural differences (by doing professionally related tasks in close cooperation with an exchange student).