Digital Open Badges – Microcredentials to Increase Competence in Sustainable Tourism
Digital Open Badges – Microcredentials to Increase Competence in Sustainable Tourism is a national project developing microcredentials for the tourism and hospitality sector in Finland. The target groups consist of people working in the tourism industry and people outside of working life who have received training in the tourism industry. The project (2022-2024) is funded by The Service Centre for Continuous Learning and Employment’s (JOTPA), and it is coordinated by Oulu University of Applied Sciences.
The aim of the project is to create a badge constellation to identify and recognize competences related to sustainability in the tourism industry. The badge constellation is linked to national and EU-level reference frameworks, and it is based on competences required in working life. The constellation is built to be scalable, in which case badges belonging to the same constellation can be validated through online trainings and displays at different educational levels. In addition, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are being designed based on the criteria for sustainable development and the badge constellation.
The first step is to define a national user-oriented competence criteria for sustainable tourism through reference frameworks and working life cooperation. In order to support the process of developing the user-oriented competence criteria, research data and user-oriented experiences of sustainable development in tourism are first collected at place in different operating environments, in Lapland and the Archipelago Sea area. Ways of collecting research data and user-oriented experiences involve arranging of workshops for business representatives and other actors in the tourism industry, as well as visiting the companies within the sector. The special characteristics and operating environments of the tourism and hospitality companies in these areas have carefully been considered; visiting individual companies and entrepreneurs for interviews and data collection can be more efficient than gathering the actors for workshops from long distances. Lapland, the northern-most region of Finland, famous for its vast arctic nature, is a sparsely populated area with long distances. Whereas, the Archipelago Sea, situated in the Baltic Sea between the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland, is characterized by a large number of islands. The data collection processes as well as the process of developing digital Open Badges for the tourism and hospitality sector in Finland takes particular attention in taking into account the special features and particular skills needs within the sector in different touristic regions in the country.
The digital Open Badges for the tourism and hospitality sector in Finland will promote professionals and people outside of working life who have received training in the tourism industry to acquire, update and improve the knowledge, skills and competences they need in the labour market. For employers and companies in the tourism and hospitality sector, the digital Open Badges can be useful in profiling in sustainable tourism, and they offer a cost-effective alternative to sustainable development certificates.