World Skills Russia championship youth movement: benefits of physical activity for soft-competences

Dr.Hab., Professor V.V. Bazelyuk1
Dr.Sc.Econ., Associate Professor E.A. Popova1
PhD A.A. Demin1
PhD, Associate Professor T.V. Letaeva2
1South Ural State University (National Research University), Chelyabinsk
2Institute of Technology - branch of National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Lesnoy

Keywords: soft-competences, rated physical activity, championing movement World Skills Russia

Background. The national championing movement World Skills Russia is on the rise across the country with more than a half of the national secondary vocational establishments reported to have joined the movement. The leading youth community of the movement is dominated by the 16-22 year old students of the vocational secondary education system.
In 2015 the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) came up with the ‘Social development experience: power of the emotional and social skills’ repot [6] including analysis of the modern educational service and its role for the student’s individual progress as a part of the social progress on the whole. As a result, the foreign and then national glossaries of the educational systems accepted the new notions of ‘soft skills’ and ‘hard skills’. Soft skills are basically interpreted nowadays as the set of non-special/ super-professional skills (critical for professional career) needed to facilitate the individual contribution to the teamwork on a most efficient basis, with such skills being rather inclusive, all-round and unlimited by some specific professional field [7]. The soft skills basically include: primary communication, self-management, efficient thinking and team management skills. They also imply a certain physical fitness level ranked among the key competences provided by the modern education service system [2].
When the World Skills Russia concept was integrated in the Federal Young Professionals Project (2018), it required the vocational education standards being totally revised, with the vocational education curricula updated so as to develop not only the professional competences and skills but also the key social and psychological credentials. The educational system since then has been developing the training programs for the World Skills Russia competitors – that are no less challenging in some aspects than the modern athletic training systems.
Most of the vocational educational institutions dispose of limited resources for trainings for the competitions all the more that such training shall be run on an off-curriculum basis in volunteer groups with some consulting support. That is the reason why the educational system gives a special priority to the professional competences rather than the soft skills trainings. As things now stand, some psychological service basics (individual/ group sessions with psychologists) are implemented in the curricula, and these initiatives undoubtedly facilitate the personality credentials building mission although they are still unable to effectively train and excel soft skills as such. Such trainings are virtually never contributed by the physical education and sport specialists and, as a result, the competitors’ physical activity is never correlated or analyzed versus the psychophysical and cognitive progress test data. The competitors’ physical activity has never been tested and rated versus their qualifications and competitive success rates in fact.
Objective of the study was to assess benefits of rated physical activity for soft-competences building component of the championing World Skills Russia ‘Young Professionals’ movement and demonstrate the need for physical education and sport trainings for the competitors.
Methods and structure of the study. Sampled for the study were the 18-21 year old Seversk Industrial College student qualifiers (n=46) for the World Skills Russia whose soft-competences were rated and analyzed versus their physical activity rates. The sample included the students majoring in the Electric System Assembling, Web Design and Management, Programmatic Solutions for Business, Cooking and Preschool Education specialties.
As provided by the ‘Young Professionals’ (World Skills Russia) Competition Rules, the competitions may take up to 3 days, with up to 8 hours assigned for every task in the contest [4] – that means that a competition may claim up to 16-22 hours on the whole. The competitors are expected to solve the task on an individual modular (with the tasks being combined) basis and under pressure of multiple stressors (free-access audiences, large crowds, loud music etc.). The relevant psychological consulting service was designed to analyze, among other things, the World Skills Russia tasks solving procedures – and the analyses showed that an ideal competitor should have first of all some specific personality traits (tested by the Spielberg-Khanin State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – STAI) to facilitate the competitive progress [5] including: competitive emotional balance; competitive self-control; competitive motivations; and stress tolerance.
The study was designed to rate the competitors’ individual soft-competences versus their physical activity rates classified as low (under 9 hours a week), average (9 hours a week) and high (more than 9 hours a week) [3]. The psychophysical and cognitive qualities were tested by the tapping test; Schulte tables; Spielberg-Khanin State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) test; Eysenck Personality Questionnaire; and Attention Control Test.
Results and discussion. The physical activity rating data were analyzed versus the personality traits profiling test data and the competitive success rates in the II-IV (2016-2018) Regional ‘Young Professionals’ (World Skills Russia) competitions in the Tomsk Oblast. The competitors were ranked on a 46-point scale, with the Regional Champion rated by 1 point and the non-competing qualifiers rated by 46 points. Given on Figure hereunder are the competitors’ physical activity rates versus their competitive ranking points.

Figure 1. World Skills Russia competitors’ physical activity rates versus their competitive ranking points

The trend line show the physical activity rate being directly correlated with the World Skills Russia RC competitors’ rankings. For further analysis the sample was split up into the following groups: Group 1 of the RC winners and runner-ups (n=5); Group 2 of the RC competitors who failed to qualify for the finals (n=10); Group 3 of the competitors who failed in the second qualification round (n=17); Group 4 of the competitors who failed in the first qualification round (n=19); and Group 5 of the competitors who declined to compete upon the primary qualification (n=3). Given in Table hereunder are the physical education rates versus the psychophysical and cognitive test rates of the sample.

Table 1. Soft-competences and physical activity rates of the World Skills Russia-2018 competitors

Personality traits

Competitors’ rankings

1

2

3

4

5

Motivation rate

Excellent

High

Average

Insufficient

Low

Stress tolerance self-rate

Excellent

High

Average

Insufficient

Low

Strong personality traits

Managing skills

Emotional type

Insensitive to the others

Conceptual frame of mind

Insensitive to the others

Lability rate

Average

Average

Average

Low

Low

Physical activity rate, %

High (40%), average(40%), low (20%)

High (32%), average (38%), low (30%)

High (18%), average (18%), low (64%)

High (15%), average (5%),

low (80%)

Low (100%)

The test data and analyses showed the most successful competitors having the average to high physical activity rates, more motivated for competitions and more stress tolerant. Groups 2 and 3 with the average ranking points were tested with the average lability rates, insufficient to average stress tolerance rates and varied physical activity rates. Group 5 (reluctant to compete) was tested with the physical activity rates clearly correlated with the psycho-emotional test rates, low stress tolerance and relatively low physical activity rates. Special tests and surveys of Group 5 found the students facing serious problems in the physical endurance domain during the competitions despite the fact that their professional competences may be high and competitive enough for success.
Conclusion. The study data and analyses showed that the primary qualifications for competitions shall prioritize the students’ motivations including motivations for physical activity plus the physical progress motivations as the necessary prerequisite for the soft- and hard-skills building agenda. The highly motivated students may be highly successful in competitions even when their background professional knowledge and skills are insufficient. The relevant training programs are recommended to include a physical training module to secure the necessary physical activity rate and physical fitness for competitive progress. A variable component of the module must be customizable to the professional competence since the competitions are different for different vocational groups. A physical education and sport specialist shall design the physical education module in cooperation with the team manager, professional experts, psychologist providing the consulting service and health specialists and contribute to the practical trainings with the physical progress tests to secure  due fitness of the trainees for the competitions. 

References

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Corresponding author: bazeluk_vladimir@mail.ru

Abstract
The national championing movement World Skills Russia is on the rise across the country with more than a half of the national secondary vocational establishments reported to have joined the movement. Objective of the study was to assess benefits of rated physical activity for soft-competences building component of the World Skills Russia by the following steps: rate soft-competences of the World Skills Russia competitors; find correlations of the rated physical activity with their competitive accomplishments; and analyze the competitors’ physical activity versus their psychophysical and cognitive functionality test rates. Sampled for the study were the Seversk Industrial College student qualifiers (n=46) for the World Skills Russia whose soft-competences were rated and analyzed versus their physical activity rates. Our analysis of the World Skills Russia competitive statistics showed that the World Skills Russia competitors need special personality qualities for success including due competitive emotional balancing and other self-control qualities; competitive motivations; and a high interference/ stress tolerance.
The study demonstrated benefits of the reasonably rated physical activity for the World Skills Russia competitors’ competence building process. The precompetitive training programs of the World Skills Russia competitors are recommended to give a special priority to physical training modules customizable to their psychophysical and cognitive functionality test rates. Core component of each physical training module shall secure the necessary physical activity for the competitive qualification and success; and optional component of the physical training module shall be individualized for the actual professional competence test data since the competitive procedures are professional-group-specific.