The Research and Analysis Centre of Employers of Poland organized a debate entitled Adapting education models to changing needs of the labour market. It was held in connection with the dialog on the situation of youth on the labour market, initiated at the Polish Economic Congress 2014. The event was attended by representatives of employers, universities, student organizations, trade unions and the European Committee Office in Poland.
The skill gap appearing on the market is one of the key issues raised by business. At the same time, university graduates signal that education models are not always relevant to later demands with which they are faced on the labour market. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that universities often have a long-standing vision of education methods and are sometimes slow to undertake practical cooperation with business when it comes to establishing curriculums. This asks important questions of both quality of education and its aims.
According to participants, the main problem is the lack of mechanisms for communication between business, universities and students. Meanwhile, there is also no coordinated policy aimed preparing pupils for the choice of future education and career as early as possible. As Vicepresident of Employers of Poland Janusz Pietkiewicz stated in his opening speech, in a global economy employers are increasing involved in the debate on education models. Employees themselves also want to pay a more active role in this dialog and use the experience acquired in the course of their careers.
Professor Adam Babiński of the University of Warsaw emphasized that the current education formula should a solid basis of knowledge and soft skills which will enable them to adapt to changing conditions during the course of their careers. Professor Andrzej Wysmołek used the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, where students are taught not only theoretical physics, but also its possible application in other fields of science – such as biology, medicine, construction, geology. According to Krzysztof Inglot of Work Service, the Labour Market Barometer poll, conducted this January, show that as many as 53 percent of graduates do not work jobs appropriate to their education and that 51 percent would like to change their educational choices. This shows the weaknesses of the system intended to prepare young people for the choice of a career. Anna Kozińska – Director of the Centre for External Relations and Technology Transfer at SGH – pointed out that universities should have more and more responsibilities with regards to the careers of their graduates and their monitoring – regardless of whether this is required by the law. Representatives of student organizations stressed that such a responsibility was precisely what students expect and they also have growing expectations when it comes to career offices at universities.
Participants are of the opinion that there is a discrepancy between the criteria applied by candidates when choosing university studies and later labour market challenges. Measures which could help deal with this discrepancy could include: developing a two-tier education system; dual education and improved support for educational choices, starting in elementary school. All participants unanimously raised the issue of the need for developing platforms for communication between business, employers and labour market institutions. Such tools, facilitating the cooperation of universities and business could be developed a.o. within the available framework of internships financed by the EU.
Jacek Brzozowski, Adviser to the President of Employers of Poland