Climate-KIC launches certification scheme for future-oriented job skills

Climate-KIC’s professional education team has launched a pilot of “Certified Professional”, a unique certification programme that recognises the future-oriented job competencies demanded by innovation and sustainability.

The EU skills agenda

Cross-cutting skills that transcend disciplines such as systems thinking, an entrepreneurial mindset and leadership are at the heart of a skills “mismatch” – a gap between individual job skills and those demanded by a changing society, but not supported by established education. As such they are seen as key to staying ahead in a rapidly changing European jobs market, and are high on the European skills policy agenda.

With this in mind, Certified Professional introduces a pan-European standard for key competencies for the postgraduate job market focussing on sustainable change. These include creative thinking, the ability to develop new ideas and solutions, perception of systems and patterns, and “catalytic” leadership – a style of leadership that engages others from different perspectives, rather than a conventional top-down approach.

A unique certification

According to Christoph Auch, Climate-KIC professional education lead Europe, who has co-developed the programme, these sorts of cross-cutting skills have generally not been appraised or certified to date. Rather than providing proof of performance in specific roles – for example, an entrepreneur in a start-up, Certified Professional provides recognition for the competencies that will be required for the jobs of the future.

Additionally, Certified Professional is based on a systemic perspective. One of the competencies of the framework, for instance, considers a “dark side” of innovation, evaluating a candidate’s awareness of the potential negative effects of an innovation, not just the positive.

Candidates can position themselves as tackling climate change challenges on multiple societal layers:

  • “Accelerating Transitions” emphasises competencies for visioning, leading, and facilitating systemic change towards a low carbon society .
  • “Promoting Innovation” addresses competencies to address challenges, defining opportunities, creating and demonstrating novel solutions with a value proposition for the society.
  • “Driving Entrepreneurship” focuses on essential entrepreneurship competencies to identify opportunities, create and implement novel business solutions in an ethical way.

Pilot phase

During the pilot phase from May to July, up to 100 candidates will be able to test their professional achievements for free against a standard developed by a board of leading scholars and practitioners in the field of innovation. Learnings from the pilot will be fed into the programme, before an official launch in the autumn.


The certification is aimed at a broad range of professionals in the post-graduate labour market, between 26 and 45, and who have professional working experience in innovation projects and sustainability. According to Christoph, the competencies span roles from engineering and human resources to urban planning, sales management or agriculture, and are competencies that many professionals will need to have in order to be successful in the future.

Applicants should be fluent in spoken and written English, and have either a Bachelor with three year’s professional experience, or a Master’s with one year of professional experience. Those without a formal degree should have at least seven year’s professional experience.

The assessment process

As part of the assessment process, candidates may pick nine out of 13 competencies, and complete a written dossier of evidence on these, describing how they demonstrated these competencies and proficiencies in their job. This is followed by a 45-minute interview, where the evidence is analysed and discussed with an expert assessor.

On completion, the assessor makes a pass/fail judgement, and provides detailed feedback of performance, which can be used as a basis to work further on competencies. The certification procedure is in English and takes approximately one day.

Those who complete successfully obtain access to a community of Certified Professionals, and will receive a certificate once the full framework is launched in autumn. The scheme is supported by a pool of eight appraisers, each of whom have all gone through the process themselves, and are experienced in assessing.

The deadline for submitting the written dossier is 7 May 2017.