The European Union is particularly concerned with developing a strategy for ‘smart’ urban growth for the EU cities. More and more numerous examples of Smart City pilot projects are developed in cities in collaboration with companies that implement innovative solutions to improve the quality of life and sustainability of the urban environments.
The multidisciplinary concept of Smart Cities, together with the high demand for innovation in this sector, poses a challenge in the field of higher education. There is a need of closer collaboration between these companies working for the innovation and generation of Smart Cities projects, and the higher education, that should provide them with staff with the skills and competencies demanded in this sector.
For graduates it is necessary they have the right mix of skills: transversal competencies, e-skills for the digital era, creativity and flexibility and a solid understanding of their chosen field. Some of these skills are provided by the universities, but the transversal competencies as innovation, teamwork, organization and planning, analytical thinking, creativity, etc. are not covered by the official degrees and are becoming really relevant in the field of Smart Cities.
There is a need to develop a common training program, designed by relevant institutions in the Smart Cities sector, in order to meet the industry needs that should be put in practice in the form of internships in a collaborative way between higher education and the rest of stakeholders.
The aim of SCALE project is to design, develop and validate a training program on Smart Cities related competencies, common to all disciplines that this concept includes, including a mobility programme to support the acquisition of competences of interns in the area of Smart Cities as well as to promote the collaboration of the business world and the higher education and training.
The methodology to achieve this objective starts from research on competences on Smart Cities, common to all disciplines and fields. A training program on these competencies will be elaborated and will be open to students and staff in universities and companies, partners or not in the project, always they study or work in the Smart Cities field.
At the same time, Smart Cities innovative projects will be identified in order to be transferred and put in practice in another context, in other cities and in other countries. These projects will be implemented by a student in the form of a collaborative internship in a partner country, in the order, they can put in practice the competencies on Smart Cities acquired.
SCALE project will increase the job placements of students of degrees and master degrees related to Smart Cities because their acquisition of necessary competencies in the field, companies will be more competitive because they will have better-prepared staff, and cities and companies will implement successful innovative projects on Smart Cities with the help of the students during their internships.
Summarizing, SCALE is based on the value and efficiency the work-based learning can provide to higher education. The development of real innovative projects in Smart Cities during internships will ensure a sustainable investment, performance, and effectiveness in higher education.