Data Set project partner meeting no.2 – Spain

Sep 18, 2019
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Partners pose with the DataSet logo

From the 30th to the 31st of May, 2019, the DataSET project consortium paid a visit to the birthplace of Cervantes, a World Heritage Site which transcends the 16th century spirit through its early Renaissance architecture – Alcala de Henares, Spain. With a warm welcome from the representatives of Universidad de Alcala, the consortium held the second transnational partner meeting to share the progress and discuss the future of the project.

The two-day programme provided the participants with the opportunity to discuss the status-quo of the development of the intellectual outputs, dissemination efforts and plans for the sustainability of the project.

Output 1 – VET Guide to Data Skills Development

We are delighted to announce that the first output of the project – the VET Guide to Data Skills Development has been finalized. The representative from the partner, coordinating the creation of the guide (Sonia Naiba, Momentum) presented the final version of the guide to the consortium. The guide aims to raise the awareness of the value of the data skills for current and future entrepreneurs and to analyze what contemporary data skills are already known to the entrepreneurs and business advisors. In addition, the guide summarizes the strategies for teaching data skills to entrepreneurs, including the best practices.

Specifically, the guide gives the overview of the following:

  1. i) The results of a data skills survey, outlining the current skills and skills deficits of business trainers and advisors in participating countries;
  2. ii) Review of the policy environment regarding data skills for entrepreneurs and data skills education, at both EU and national and regional level;

iii) An introduction to strategies for teaching data skills to entrepreneurs, including best practice examples and testimonies.

The guide is in open access and can be downloaded here

Output 2 – DataSet Open Education Resources

The DataSet Open Education Resources will comprise of a curriculum, trainer’s guide and a suite of interactive online learning materials which enable teachers and trainers to enhance entrepreneur’s data skills in classrooms and small group training. The Leading partner of this intellectual output, Universidad de Alcala and its representative (Miguel Ángel Sicilia Urbán, a Data Scientist himself), presented the draft methodology for the data skills training model and led an extensive discussion on the DataSET curriculum with the consortium. Resulting in almost finalized draft, all the partners are to pilot test the curriculum in small group session with business advisors and entrepreneurs in fall 2019.

The training model and its accompanying resources will be testes during the Train the Trainers Learning Activity in Denmark to be held in April 2020.

Output 3 – DataSet Online Course

In the meeting the partners discussed the preliminary plans of translating the open educational resources, created as a part of the previous DataSet output, into an online interactive learning course for the entrepreneurs at all stages of their business development. Self-paced and open to virtually anybody, the course will open the opportunities for popularizing the acquisition of data skills among wider European (and international) population.

In addition to the talks about the intellectual outputs, the partners have briefly discussed the future arrangements for the learning week, dissemination and exploitation plans and administrative issues regarding the project’s implementation phase.

Overall, the meeting was a success in terms of its outcomes, supported by the generous hospitality of the host partner. The partners enjoyed the traditional central Spanish cuisine and its famous tapas and a view of a historic city center of Alcala de Henares.  The next partner meeting is planned to take place in Leitrim, Ireland on 10-11 October, 2019.

The New VET Guide to Data Skills Development – Momentum

Aug 8, 2019
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Context

In today’s digital, connected world, the savviness with which entrepreneurs employ information and communication technologies is essential to competitiveness. However, while digital communication skills have improved across the population generally, the ability to leverage information, especially data, is still underdeveloped. This is a lost opportunity: the volume of data that business owners have access to has grown exponentially and if “big” data is turned into actionable “smart” data, it can drive productivity, innovation and growth.

The EU states that “data-driven business models are the engine of Europe’s growth, industrial transformation and job creation”, which is part of its commitment to the digitalization of the economy.

One of the benefits is that businesses responding to smart data can improve products and services, which would, in turn, generate economic growth while contributing to social progress. However, micro-enterprises and SMEs, which make up 99% of businesses, still lag in digital technologies. Micro-enterprises and SMEs must develop data skills or risk being uncompetitive, if the European economy is to flourish.

Nevertheless, there is an obstacle: today’s entrepreneurship teachers and trainers also face a data skills deficit. The majority entered the workforce before big data existed and there is currently no reliable source of training to help them boost their own skills. Prior to the start of the Data set project, East Belfast Enterprise conducted a small survey across 28 Local Enterprise Agencies in the Enterprise NI Network which found that “52% of business advisors said they were completely unaware of the range of data that is available and 70% rated their own knowledge of data skills as poor.”

About the VET Guide

The objective of the Guide is to raise awareness regarding the value of data skills for current and future entrepreneurs and increase knowledge of what contemporary data skills are and how they can be taught.

The Guide presents a comprehensive introduction to the role of data skills in VET and includes the results of a data skills survey, outlining the current skills and skills deficits of business trainers and advisors in participating countries, a  review of the policy environment regarding data skills for entrepreneurs and data skills education, at both EU and national and regional level and an introduction to strategies for teaching data skills to entrepreneurs, including best practice examples and testimonies.

Needs Analysis Assessment

The basis of the VET Guide is a needs assessment, which is a systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or “gaps” between current conditions and desired conditions or “wants” of a specific group. The chosen method for conducting the Data Skills Needs of Business Trainers and Advisors in Ireland, Northern Ireland/UK, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark was an Internet survey. This method was selected because it allows for a more diverse survey sample as survey link was widely shared online, it is a low-cost, fast and efficient method and the extensive networks of the partners allowed for a ready-made pool of participants.

The survey was made up of 12 short questions, it had a 100% completion rate and it was completed by 33 Business Advisors from 5 countries (Ireland, Northern Ireland/UK, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark).

Needs Analysis Survey Results

Data Skills proficiency is quite low among business advisors, with only 21% of those surveyed feeling their skills are proficient. The acquisition of Data Skills is of great importance to business advisors. 81% of those surveyed indicated that they would be interested in receiving/accessing free training and/or practical resources that they could use to teach entrepreneurs and SME owners about applicable data skills to their businesses.

Business Advisors today favour a Hands-On approach to providing business support therefore our data set materials should be very practical in nature and be solution oriented. Five key areas were identified where business advisors need upskilling with regard to digital skills and also 5 key areas which are particularly relevant for SME’s  – these are ranked in order of importance in the table below:

Data Skills for Business Advisors Data Skills for SME’s and Business Owners
Data/Information Analysis Application of Data to solve problems/inform business ideas
Reporting Skills Communication Skills
Application of Data to solve problems/inform business ideas Data/Information Analysis
Data Collection Creative Thinking

 

Technical/Digital Skills Technical/Digital Skills

 

The VET Guide also includes a section that goes in depth with regard to the Policy Environment regarding Data Skills for Entrepreneurs and Data Skills Education in the UK, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as a section dedicated to Strategies for Teaching Data Skills to Entrepreneurs.

The main goals of the VET Guide to Data Skills Development are to raise awareness of the value of data skills for business advisors and entrepreneurs and approaches for the delivery of data skills training and to lay the foundation for the data set Open Education Resources, which will consist of a curriculum, trainers’ guide and suite of interactive online learning materials which will enable teachers and trainers to enhance entrepreneurs’ data skills in classroom and small group training as well as for the data set Online Course, which will consist of a multilingual, interactive learning course in which entrepreneurs at all stages of entrepreneurial activity can learn more and put data skills into practice.

More detailed information regarding the findings of the online survey are available in the VET Guide, which can be accessed in its entirety on the project website.