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Open innovation challenge to close the skills gap

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There have obviously been a wide range of open innovation challenges aiming at quite hard science outcomes over the past few years.  There is a growing indication however that groups are targeting softer outcomes.

For instance, earlier this year the RSA teamed up with a cabal of professional bodies to launch the Valuing your Talent competition, which hoped to produce a better means of valuing the talent we have within an organization.  The competition is still ongoing, so it remains to be seen quite how successful they will prove to be.

A challenge has recently been launched in a similar vain by The Economist Group and Lumina Foundation.  They have launched a competition on InnoCentive that will hope to produce strategies to help close the skills gap between what employers want and what academia are currently producing.

The competition is based upon the recent report by The Economist Intelligent Unit, called Closing the skills gap: Companies and colleges collaborating for change.  The report, which was sponsored by Lumina Foundation highlighted the skills employees wanted that were not currently being supplied sufficiently by institutions.  The report found a particular gap in soft skills, such as the ability to communicate and collaborate, with those skills typically rated the most important for new hires to possess.

The aim is that the open innovation challenge will go some way to help close that skills gap.  The competition will be looking for a product or service that can help to facilitate communication between employers and higher education so that those crucial skills can be better taught in our institutions.

“Today’s employers want to hire graduates with a broad array of knowledge and skills – not just specific content knowledge, but transferable skills like critical thinking, the ability to solve unscripted problems, and to communicate effectively,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Higher education and employers must work together to prepare students for real-world success.”

Semi-finalists of the Challenge will receive coaching from both a VC and Communications expert as well as a chance to compete on the main-stage at The Economist Higher Education Forum 2014. The winner will receive a monetary prize of $10,000.  Submissions for the challenge will be open from June 4 – July 25, 2014. Further information on the challenge and submission guidelines can be found here.

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