Peter Beacock U1870857
Today in the global world “Employability skills” are increasingly becoming just as important and valued to employers as educational achievements (Crossman,J, 2010). The fast-paced changing global market strategies are constantly developing, redesigning today’s multi-cultural labour force, developing, reshaping, and growing as new technologies are discovered and implemented within organisations (Crossman, J, 2010). As a result, employers have realised that to be an effective, sustainable, and competitive work force within their fields of expertise, there is the need for new requirements from their future and existing employees. These requirements go beyond academic success as the need for a wider range of core work competences are craved for. Competences such as self-esteem, team working, commercial awareness and presentation skills are just a few of the valuable soft essential skills that they seek in individuals (Szafrański & Goliński, 2015).
Psychosocial well-being and social inclusion are also critical to the development of these soft skills and the development of competences working towards employment and vocational employment for those further down the ladder of the labour market (Szafrański & Goliński, 2015).
This assignment which is of a qualitative and subjective nature (therefore open to interpretation) seeks to investigate the positive outcomes of using the concept of martial arts (which I teach) and adapting its aggressive discipline form into a transferable non- aggressive enhanced set of soft skills for future employability. I will attempt to discuss how my theoretical pedagogy of adapting martial arts as a successful tool in working towards the European commission strategies and its link to the Erasmus+ Youth exchange programs.
I will further attempt to explore the social and diverse notions of culture, equality of opportunities and inclusion, promoting effective communication, participation, enhancement of soft skills working towards bridging the gap to what employers need and what young people think they need. My rationale will link my teaching expertise and autonomy of my specialist subject to the importance it has on young students and their soft skills development that are required for successful meaningful employability. However, due to the limitations of this essay, I am unable to provide a detailed exploration to this subject that I would like and as a result I call upon further research into this specialist area.
The Maastrich Communique on vocational education and training (VET)
Within the framework of the Lisbon strategy, the Copenhagen Declaration issued in 2002 the development of vocational education and training (VET) was launched (Janos Szigeti Toth, 2011).
Further on in 2004 those responsible for VET in 32 countries along with partners of the European social organisations agreed to collaborate to strengthen the VET system by modernising its whole framework in order to make Europe the most competitive economy (Janos Szigeti Toth, 2011).
Further reforms issued in 2004 saw a much higher level of vocational routes that were made more attractive to support the increase in participation into VET frameworks (Janos Szigeti Toth, 2011). These attractive routes supported both employers and individuals, therefore increasing the quality and innovation to benefit all learners. The reforms installed new visions of creativity to teach and train young people for the labour market through upgrading competences (Janos Szigeti Toth, 2011). However, this was not limited to just the young people as it also became inclusive for older people. The reforms and frameworks to modernising did not stop there as meeting the needs of those low skilled, disadvantaged for the purpose of integration, cohesion, inclusion supported the increasing labour participation (Janos Szigeti Toth, 201). Again, the Lisbon strategy of the 32 European countries educational system has recognised that education is not just for the privileged, the elite or even limited to one age group, but has transcended into a universal, holistic, and inclusive lifelong learning journey to employability for all (Quane, 2011).
As a direct response to inclusiveness, education reforms included and covered formal, non-formal and informal patterns of training. This was a direct attempt to include and integrate a diversity of structured stages in education and other dimensions (Quane, 2011). This meant changes in a positive sense, as in adapting and becoming more creative leading to a continuation of improvements in quality for personal and collective living (Quane, 2011). However, there is still growing evidence that recognises a gap between what young people expect and what employers need. So, the strategies of the European Commission are installed to fight against this trend and therefore the Erasmus+ legal basis states their programmes will specifically follow objectives of the European Commission (https://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/youth/library/reports/inclusion-diversity-strategy_en.pdf, 20th February). The overall Erasmus+ objectives are to work towards key competences, skills and provide opportunities to young people, which includes those with fewer opportunities Erasmus+ are committed to promoting the participation in democratic life in Europe and the labour market. They strive for young people of all abilities to become better citizens, actively promoting intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and solidarity. This can only be achieved through increased learning mobility opportunities through strengthened links between the youth and the labour market. These objectives are seen to be successful through those active in youth works, organisations and youth leaders and one of the additional indicators is to include participants with special needs or fewer opportunities (https://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/youth/library/reports/inclusion-diversity-strategy_en.pdf, 20th February).
A subjective theory is that the gap is as a result of the lack of communication between employers, universities, colleges and vocational organisations. For example, graduates and the lower skilled are often showing a tendency towards overrating decent grades, technical skills and therefore, underestimating skills such as adaptability, teamwork, international awareness, and cooperation, which employers are increasingly valuing so much more (QS, 2020). The CEO of QS, Nunzio Quacquarelli, when asked about the role that universities should have to prepare their student for employment, he stated:
“… the development of soft skills, like team-playing and resilience, often becomes as important as the technical skills and knowledge acquired during a degree. Opportunities for internships, study abroad, extra-curricular activity and active learning can all contribute to the development of these and other skills.”
With the support of martial arts as a tool, mobility opportunities through the Erasmus+ programmes are gaining more value to those who are vulnerable or at the lower end of the job market and lower paid as they become more cultural intelligent. By incorporating sports and activities such as martial arts there is a new founded sense of self value and long-term employability through mobility experiences. This can only be for the benefit to improving students’ competences and strengths whilst they explore technologies, communication, social media, leadership tools.
Relationship Between Improving Skills-Competences and Employability through teaching Martial arts on Erasmus+ mobility programmes
My pedagogical teaching influences that skills learnt through the participation of martial arts are transferable to the labour market. However, many martial artists would be critical of my approach to using the skills for employability as they will argue that traditional and modern forms or disciplines would never work in an environment to enhance soft skills for employability. But they would agree that certain forms of martial arts promote intense exercise that benefits both physical and psychological stresses (Bowman, 2019) demonstrate the egoistic ideology of different practitioners taking different approaches to training methods into schools and clubs of the same style often being very critical of each other. However, as a martial artist myself my theory which is subjective is that any form of martial arts can be adapted, developed and made inclusive for the good of society promoting us all as good citizens of our communities. I agree with (Derrida,1988) that styles and systems are not fixed but are constructed through constant changing of practices which along with a number of combinations or elements develop the imagination of thinking outside of the box (Derrida,1988). For me martial arts aren’t just about literally learning to fight, it goes beyond these raw fight or flight instincts. It is about learning a deeper meaning and understanding and transferring those skills to other avenues to your life. Phillips,2016, listed the qualities that the average parents would like to see their children learn from participation in martial arts classes.
These included leadership, protecting the weak, legal and moral attitudes, persistency, overcoming challenges, self-discipline, motivation, self-improvement, teamwork, body confidence, awareness and learning from failures (Philips, 2016). Philips continued to also state “that these qualities support the ability to concentrate and focus on goals as well as becoming more active and looking at the bigger picture (Philips, Scott, 2016). It is true the list isn’t exhaustive, however, using my skills that I bring as a teacher of education along with my expertise of the martial arts I have identified these traits as essential skills, harnessing them and changing an aggressive fighting form into an informal safe learning environment within a classroom linking them to the Erasmus+ strategies in combating unemployment and low skilled positions. I would agree to a certain extent with Scott Philips when he said, “these functions are often used as a marketing tool to sell exercise and self-development.” (Philips, 2016). But by harnessing these skills I have used them as positive outputs following the strategic strategies of the Erasmus+ youth exchanges creating a cultural intelligence, social inclusion, tolerance for difference and diversity which enhances the success of sustainable employment. It is a well-known fact that sports and active activities bring people together, especially young people. Through martial arts as an activity it is only natural that it draws young people from all backgrounds and abilities together. Through this use of martial arts, it automatically creates inclusion, equality and diversity is celebrated which are all linked to the Erasmus strategies. One of the main aims and objectives of the Erasmus+ programs is summarized in its article 11.1.a states that the Erasmus+ legal basis is a Programme that shall pursue the following specific objective: “to improve the level of key competences and skills of young people, including those with fewer opportunities, as well as to promote participation in democratic life in Europe and the labour market, active citizenship, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and solidarity, in particular through increased learning mobility opportunities for young people, those active in youth work or youth organisations and youth leaders, and through strengthened links between the youth field and the labour market;”. In addition, one of the indicators for the evaluation of the programme is the number of participants with special needs or fewer opportunities.” (https://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/youth/library/reports/inclusion-diversity-strategy_en.pdf, 20th February).
As a result of globalisation and changes in attitudes within the jobs market skills education continues to review, reflect and reform its processes as it attempts to keep up with the fast pace of the labour markets. Reforms in the European educational system no longer confined students to school classrooms, or even confined them to learning from books as new ways developed to prepare citizens for the labour market became accessible to everyone. The changes embraced the totality of human life of long learning through experiences and activities (Quane, 2011).
In a globalised world, people who have experienced international mobility seem to have an enhanced advantage in the world of work compared to those who have limited themselves only in local or national understanding (Crossman, J. 2010).Through inclusion of the benefits of martial arts as an additional resource within the Erasmus+ programmes can provide encouragement to young people in education not to settle for lower end labour careers but to explore their hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future which in turn will support their integration as good citizens of Europe. To finally end and conclude the basis of my deliverance of non-formal teaching and learning is one of a social acceptance within the Erasmus+ youth exchanges and is therefore part of a social system which has stimulated curiosity with extrinsic motivations of employability as an interaction of influences. As result it becomes socially recognised and relevant as results of positive outcomes which are a valuable tool to the integration of the larger global labour market and society.
Bowman, Paul. 2019. Deconstructing Martial Arts. URL:https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvv41849.5 , accessed 23rd January 2020, Cardiff University Press (2019)
Bowman, Paul. Derrida, 2019. Deconstructing Martial Arts. URL:https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvv41849.5 , accessed 23rd January 2020, Cardiff University Press (2019)
Bowman, Paul. Derrida, Philips, Scott, 2019. Deconstructing Martial Arts. URL:https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvv41849.5 , accessed 23rd January 2020, Cardiff University Press (2019)
Crossman, J. (n.d.) 2010. International experience and graduate employability: stakeholder perceptions on the connection. Springer, pp.pp 599-613.
Janos Szigeti Toth, 2011. The Routledge International Handbook of Lifelong Learning. Edited Jarvis, Edited Jarvis, Peter, pp 483.
Quane, Adam, 2011. The Routledge International Handbook of Lifelong Learning. Edited Jarvis, Edited Jarvis, Peter, pp 305.
QS. (2019). Employability in the 21st Century: The Global Graduate Skills Gaps and Mismatched Expectations – QS. [online] Available at: https://www.qs.com/the-global-graduate-skills-gaps/ [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].
Szafrański M and Goliński M (2015). System for Professionals – monitoring employers’ demands for key competences in Wielkopolska, In X. Zhuang (Ed.), Recent Advances in Computer Science; 19th International Conference on Circuits, Systems, Communications and Computers. Zakhyntos.