Non-formal and informal skills self-assessment: useful research results on employers perspective

OnTheMIC project aims to assist VET teaching staff, adult learners, and employers in recognizing participants’ capacities, desires, and capabilities for re-skilling or up-skilling. The primary objective of the project is to develop mechanisms and tools for recognizing and validating prior learning. This recognition of prior learning processes can enable individuals to acquire micro-credentials, which in turn can facilitate flexible learning pathways and support learners in obtaining employment during professional transitions.

The initial step of our research involved theoretical exploration of the existing requirements and needs concerning evaluation and self-assessment tools. It was also necessary to conduct research on similar tools available in the market. Subsequently, we conducted empirical research consisting of surveys targeting employers in the participating countries (Finland, Germany, Iceland, Belgium, and Greece). We selected 30 employers from each country and distributed questionnaires to them. In total, we collected 150 completed surveys. The main focus of the survey was the self-assessment test for employees within companies. We aimed to understand employers’ perspectives on this type of test and its overall importance in their organizations.

From our research, we discovered that employers perceive self-assessment tools as reliable, with 85% of them considering it an internal process. The diagram below illustrates the extent to which employers rely on self-assessment tests. Additionally, the test results influence the initial impression between employers and prospective employees.

Picture 1 Reliability of the self-assessment test

In 88% of cases, companies communicate the results obtained from the self-assessment test through personal meetings, while in 14% of cases, communication is done via phone. Other communication options for test results are not commonly used. Furthermore, many employers frequently repeat the test during employees’ tenure. Half of them believe that the self-assessment test improves employees’ performance. By taking the test, employees can gain a better understanding of themselves and their abilities. They can also compare their self-perception with the actual assessment results. When the test is repeated, employees can easily track their progress and identify areas of improvement.

The graph below presents employers’ opinions on talent recognition. Based on their experience with such tests, employers find it easier to identify employees’ talents through self-assessment tests, and employees themselves can recognize their talents more readily. Survey results also indicate that self-assessment tools facilitate employee promotions.

Picture 2 Impact of self-assessment test on the learners

Picture 2 Impact of self-assessment test on the learners

The self-assessment test serves a purpose beyond talent identification and quick assessments. Its results can be utilized within a company as an indicator of areas that require improvement and guide adaptations to better support employees. Creating a strong work environment that fosters worker efficiency and productivity is crucial. This is why self-assessment tests are commonly employed in companies. In our survey, we discovered that employers value the feedback obtained from the self-assessment tool as it enables them to enhance the work environment. Employers also utilize the self-assessment results to design specific learning opportunities for future employees. Consequently, many companies offer additional training in areas of high interest.

However, it is important to consider a critical perspective and acknowledge that the self-assessment test for non-formal and informal skills may not be necessary for all employee groups, and its usefulness may vary depending on workers’ qualifications.

Picture 3 Profile of the future employees, for whom is self-assessment test for non-formal and informal skills the most suitable

From the above diagram, it is evident that the self-assessment test for non-formal and informal skills is most suitable and useful for future employees who have lower qualifications compared to those who are highly qualified. The test for non-formal and informal skills is not specifically designed for highly qualified professionals. Employers, whether the individuals are less qualified or highly qualified, are interested in gaining insights into their work skills, problem-solving abilities, flexibility, and work ethic. Additionally, half of the employers are curious about the hobbies of prospective employees, and some of them also want to assess the level of professionalism and dedication to their hobbies.

These factors provide employers with valuable information to evaluate how well an employee aligns with the company and where they have potential for professional development. Overall, the project aims to promote lifelong learning and professional growth, which are crucial objectives in today’s rapidly evolving job market.

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