ELIT-in project (“Integration of elite athletes into the labour market through the valorization of their transversal competences”) starts off from the acknowledgment of a fact that affects very negatively to most of the elite athletes at international level, which is that, due to their exclusive dedication to this task and the early abandonment of formal education, once they have finished their sports career they realize that it is very difficult to find a job with the education received and accredited.
Thus, from one day to another, they face a difficult scenario, competing for accessing a job with other more qualified and experienced candidates, except in the case of those privileged who are "placed" in their club, federation or even in some company, but more by recognition to the services rendered than by their professional suitability.
And this without forgetting the psychological impact of leaving aside the life of elite athletes with the uncertainty of starting a new stage and suffering, in many cases, that all the accumulated merits and acknowledgments are not enough to be competitive in a demanding and changing labour market.
However, in order to achieve high performance, these athletes have acquired, trained and improved throughout their careers a series of personal skills and abilities that, undoubtedly, are essential for reaching optimal professional performance and which are highly valued by the labour market. These are known as "transversal competences", “soft skills” or even “life skills”, acquired through an informal learning process. We speak about skills such as teamwork, culture of effort, motivation to achieve goals, effective communication, frustration tolerance, dealing with success and failure, decision making, emotional control, self-esteem, adaptive capacity, flexibility, initiative, control and reduction of stress or time/stress management, among others.
According to European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network's Glossary, transversal competences are relevant to jobs and occupations other than the ones they currently have or have recently had. These skills may also have been acquired through non-work or leisure activities or through participation in education or training. More generally, these are skills, which have been learned in one context or to master a special situation/problem and can be transferred to another context.
In this way, ELIT-in project will be framed in the specific objective of the promotion of dual careers of athletes, being its main aim to work for the recognition of transversal competences acquired by high performance athletes throughout their careers and to put them in value as a differential factor for accessing to the labour market with full guarantees once they retire.
The approach proposed by ELIT-in is crucial to sustain the athletes in their dual careers and to increase their employment opportunities during the retirement transition. The background idea is that a competence-based approach at educational and work levels could boost the recognition of cross-sectorial competences and qualifications acquired through informal learning associated with elite sport. As a matter of fact, sport is considered as a perfect environment for informal learning of transversal competences or life skills that represent important attributes of high productive workers.
A large number of specifications and regulations related to dual careers and elite athletes exists in a number of EU Member States, but most of them are fragmented or focused only on some aspects. So, our ELIT-in project tries to contribute to put a new light on the promotion of dual careers, helping to elite athletes to integrate into the labour market once they retire through the recognition and put in value of transversal competences acquired throughout their careers.
As we have already established, ELIT-in project is framed in the specific objective of the promotion of dual careers of athletes, being its main aim to work for the recognition of transversal competences acquired by high performance athletes throughout their careers and to put them in value as a differential factor for accessing to the labour market with full guarantees once they retire.
To achieve this goal a complete methodology has been established by consortium members. The activities of the project have been grouped in seven work packages (WP1-WP2-WP3-WP4-WP5-WP6-WP7) and from the first five, it will be possible to get the outputs (IO1, IO2, IO3, IO4, IO5).
In the first place, an Analysis on the current status on the valorisation and recognition of the transversal competences of the elite athletes in Europe (IO1) led by the P7 partner (Bosnia and Herzegovina Olympic Committee) during the months (M1-M7).
The aim is to develop scientific research, through the collection and processing of qualitative and quantitative data, by distributing two types of questionnaires: one aimed at athletes as a self-assessment of skills acquired during their sports career. Likewise, the second questionnaire will be addressed to people in charge of human resources in companies and institutions (public and private) to know their point of view.
The final objective is to analyse more thoroughly or explore the existing ways to support in general, an integrated approach to education-work, and in particular, about the recognition of informal education acquired through sports.
The conclusions of this research work will be reflected in an executive summary.
In parallel to the previous activity, it will be elaborated a Best Practices Guide on the valuation and recognition of transversal competences of elite athletes (IO2) led by P6 (Lithuanian Union of Sports Federations (LUSF)) during the months (M1-M7), to provide detailed information on the success stories that can be transferred to other countries and / or organizations (both sports and non-sports), with special attention to institutions that have incorporated high-level and high-performance athletes in their work teams.
Once the data is collected in a common document, it will be disseminated at the highest local, state and European level.
Based on the results obtained from the implementation of WP2 (IO1 and IO2), the next steps will be:
To design a Methodological Guide (IO3) led by P2 (University of the Balearic Islands) (UIB)) and P1 (Andalusian Swimming Federation (FAN)) during the period (M8-M22), for the identification and recognition of transversal competences or skills acquired through informal learning associated with elite sport, as well as for mentoring and accompanying them towards their full socio-professional insertion. The ultimate goal is to value these cross-competences of elite athletes as a differential factor to access the labour market with all the guarantees once they retire.
To create and implement an e-Learning Training Program (IO4) run by P8 (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Sports (FSP)) during the period (M8-M18). It will be aimed at elite athletes in the field of transversal skills that are more difficult to acquire through sports, but of great importance for companies. Example of some of them can be: communication, customer orientation, negotiation, digital competence or entrepreneurial spirit, which also reinforce and complement the possibilities of elite athletes to enter the labour market once they retired.
To develop and implement, through a pilot experience, a European Standard (a quality label) (IO5) directed by P9 (ICSS Europe Insight) (M10-M24)), to recognize organizations that actively work in the field of valorisation of transversal competences acquired by elite athletes throughout their careers.
In a transversal manner and from the beginning of the implementation of the ELIT-in project, a Quality Assessment procedure will be implemented (WP6) by P11 (Italian Sports Center).
Finally, a powerful Dissemination Plan has been planned in the framework of the ELIT-in project (WP7) led by P3 (Sport et Citoyenneté) (M1-M24)). In this sense, we must highlight that the potential of the members of the consortium as multiplying agents is enormous due to its structure and membership. Most of them operate at a national and transnational level, which implies a large network of stakeholders, since all partner organizations have a great capacity to impact the sports sector at the regional, state and European level.
The Management and Coordination of the ELIT-in Project throughout its life cycle will be carried out by P1 (Andalusian Swimming Federation (FAN) (M1-M24)), with the objective of guaranteeing the effective implementation of all the actions of the project, as well as the correct economic-financial management. Likewise FAN will be responsible for coordinating the following Coordination Meetings which will be held each sixt months
|TPM2||2nd Coordination Meeting_Manchester_UK|
|TPM3||3rd Coordination Meeting_ Sarajevo_Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|TPM4||4th Coordination Meeting_ Vilnius_Lithuania|
ELIT-in: As an innovate project
ELIT-in project is innovative due to the approach proposed to sustain the athletes in their dual careers and to increase their employment opportunities during the retirement transition. The background idea is that a competence-based approach at educational and work levels could boost the recognition of transversal or cross-sectorial competences and qualifications acquired through informal learning associated with elite sport.
Although some other European projects, funded by Erasmus+ Sport Programme, are currently being developed with similar objectives than ELIT-in, as we have stated before, our approach, especially in terms of target groups and activities foreseen, is totally different in order to promote and support dual careers of athletes. Thus, we are convinced that ELIT-in will contribute to address this problematic, the complicated re-insertion into the labour market of professional athletes once they retire, from a new perspective.
On the other hand, it is very important to highlight that, thanks to the project team who will be involved within ELIT-in (sport federations, National Olympic Committees, sport clubs, academic institutions, not-for-profit sport organizations, etc.), we will be able to address the afore mentioned problematic from a multidisciplinary approach, which will undoubtedly enrich project .
Finally, ELIT-in project encourages reflection, discussion and creativity to design new patterns for the promotion of dual careers, helping to elite athletes to integrate into the labour market once they retire through the recognition of cross-sectorial competences and qualifications acquired through informal learning associated with elite sport.