News: Focus group of the Skills4Cities project in Sofia


On 21.09.2022, at the Launchее Center, we held a discussion meeting in connection with the implementation of the Smart Skills for Smarter Cities (Skills4Cities) project, Erasmus+ No 2020-1-BG01-KA202-079071, which has been implemented since 2020 by a consortium with a leading partner Cluster Sofia Knowledge City. We thank the 14 experts from universities, professional organisations and businesses who participated in the discussion. Special admiration to Innovative Sofia, that joined the discussion with their representative on this topic, to which they have a special concern and which is directly related to their activities.

Our aim was to obtain expert opinion and feedback on the proposed competences and qualifications required to fulfil three closely related (as a qualification) job roles that we believe can ensure the success of smart city projects, namely Smart Cities Project Developer, Manager and Management Consultant.

Participants in this focus group were asked:

       Is the competence model developed under the project appropriate and applicable and how relevant are the profiles of the three job roles related to the development, implementation and management of smart city projects? 

       To what extent the described competencies and specified EQF qualifications for each of the three job roles meet their expectations.

In the context of the project, the discussion was directly related to the needs of cities for experts with new and/or upgraded competences, knowledge, skills and abilities, with which they can effectively manage the digital transformation process.

In summary, the result of this discussion is as follows:

       Digital skills are far from the most important for the success and sustainability of smart cities. As a system in a system, a smart city requires different competencies in many disciplines and areas, without which the city is doomed to failure or low efficiency.

       The smart city project is at the heart of digital transformation and despite the diversity and scale, there are common rules and approaches to their management, which require an appropriate qualification to build on university education and even post-graduate qualifications. The appropriate term for this is "continues professional development" (CPD), which is usually achieved through training and certification, thereby enhancing the recognition of trainees' skills by the smart city stakeholders.

       There is a newly discovered trend in the corporate world to change the attitudes of top management in corporations. Freelancing is increasingly preferred over corporate careers. This trend is a further argument for our focus on the three proposed job roles.

       The problems and challenges, key success factors and reasons for failure of smart cities are manifested in their purest form in the process of developing, implementing and managing smart city projects. The three proposed work profiles cover the three phases in the life cycle of a project 1. ideation and design; 2 implementation and management; 3 sustainable developments.

       The proposed competency model with 40 competences is relevant to the three professional roles, it is a contribution to a better understanding of the role of the three chosen professions and it is a good basis for creating an environment to increase the qualification of those that are engaged with the smart city projects.

       Potential candidates for in-service training and certification should have university degrees (economic or technical), i.e., be at level 7-8 of the recommended EQF qualification frame, to be able to upgrade their knowledge and skills through individual training programs, based on the competency model proposed under this project.

       It was agreed that for the upskilling needs of each of the competencies of these three roles, no lower than 4 and no higher than 6 EQF level is applicable.

As a result of the discussion, it was accepted that the proposed competency model and the EQF level for each competence for the three job roles are applicable and suitable for use, giving reason to consider that this stage of the project has been verified and its results can be used in the next phase related to the validation process.

 You can learn more about the project and its outputs here.