On 26 March, FEP organised the final conference of the ASAP project (Anticipatory Skills for Adapting the Publishing sector). The project aims to deliver flexible training programmes that, according to EQF/ECVET standards and also establishing the quality principles of the EQAVET framework, will provide employees, but also unemployed, self-employed, low skilled employees and young VET students the opportunity to update their professional skills and knowledge and address the lack of specific skills determined by the “digital revolution” in the publishing sector.

The event, called ‘Creative Skills development in a digital age: case studies and policy opportunities’, took the form of a webinar due to the current circumstances, and was organised in collaboration with a similar project, called Live Skills(coordinated by the British Council). Also a Sector Skills Alliance project co-funded by the Erasmus Plus programme, Live Skills designed and piloted three learning programmes for professionals and people looking to develop a career in the audiovisual and live performance sectors, as well as the wider creative and cultural sectors. It was in fact clear that synergies could be exploited between the two initiatives and their respective constituencies.

After a welcome message form the organisers (FEP and the British Council), Richard Polacek, Director of UNI MEI (a trade union of workers in the media and arts sector), set the scene with a keynote speech on skills for the cultural sector in a digital age. The project coordinators then briefly outlined the main features of the two projects.

Project partners presented the evidence base for the two projects, consisting of research finding on which are the key skills in demand for the audio-visual and live performance fields and how digitisation has impacted the book publishing sector and its main professional profiles. FEP, responsible for the work package on defining sector skill shortages/needs, introduced the main elements of its analysis of the impact of digitisation on publishing, the strategic perspectives and the changes in the professional profiles, as well as the related mapping of competences and skills need assessment.

The event continued with a session dedicated to the creation of the learning programmes: for Live Skills, three curricula have been developed in Arts Management, Digital and New Technologies, Cultural Entrepreneurship; for ASAP, five curricula in the main publishing professional profiles – production, Design, Distribution & sales, Editorial, Marketing & publicity). ASAP partners also showcased the MOOC platforms developed with modules for all the curricula, comprising video lessons and other materials (the MOOC is already online and can be accessed via the project website).

The next session looked at the implementation of the training programmes developed by the two projects, describing challenges and innovative solutions adopted. Several partners explained how the trainings were taking place and how prospective students had been involved. Several hundreds of people are currently following or have already completed the modules of the ASAP MOOC in the four countries targeted by the project (Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK). Students are engaged with the Live Skills training in Bulgaria, Greece, Northern Ireland and Romania (where an alternative model has been put in place).

The partners then moved on to the impact on learners, VET providers and employers. A Live Skills learner recounted her work-based learning experience at the Northern Ireland Opera, and key findings were presented from the external evaluation report of the project regarding feedback from learners, employers and trainers. For ASAP, representatives of the employers (including our members of the Italian and UK Publisher Associations) explained the expected benefits for publishers from the project results.

The final session was dedicated to exploring sustainability and policy opportunities. Partners looked at the issue of the accreditation and certification of the training tools developed by the two projects: this is a major challenge for the success of the courses created, because of differences in criteria in different countries, as well as due to long term challenges of quality assurance and adaptability of the curricula to changing needs and changing policies. It is also an issue that can influence the sustainability of the project outcomes in the long run, which both project consortia are trying to address.

The event was concluded by opening the floor to questions from the audience. Including the project partners, more than 70 people followed the webinar at least in part, and more than 50 were connected throughout the whole event, a recording of which will be soon available.