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Education adapted to market needs – it all starts at school


Predicting future labour market trends. An education system focused on the needs of companies and young people ready for lifelong learning. This is the key, on the one hand for schools not to produce unemployment and on the other for employers not to have trouble finding appropriately qualified employees.


– Sadly, currently the education system and the labour market simply do not see one another’s needs – emphasizes Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak of the Warsaw School of Economics and the Institute for Education Research. According to her, it is one of the main reasons why some have trouble finding a job after graduation, while employers indicate that they struggle to find appropriate candidates for jobs.


How to solve this problem? How to make the education system supply the labour market with employees with appropriate skills? These and other questions related to education were addressed at the debate Modern education models and future labour market attitudes. The discussion was a follow up to an earlier debate on youth unemployment held at the offices of Employers of Poland as part of the Meetings at Brukselska series.


– First, we have to clearly say, that the time when one could work on a contract of employment in one place for an entire career are gone, never to return. We have to be ready to have numerous jobs throughout our lives and constantly educate ourselves to adapt to the demands of the labour market –  stresses Piotr Kamiński, Vicepresident of Employers of Poland.


So how does the Polish education system look like? Programs which are at best far removed from students’ interests and have nothing to do with market demands, learning oriented on passing tests rather than practical exercises and problem solving. – The high school curriculum involves entrepreneurship classes. The problem is that it is often restricted to simply reading the textbook – as if a book alone could teach creativity and an entrepreneurial approach –  remarks Dariusz Justyniarski, Director of the “Żagle” school of the “Sternik” association.


There many more similar problems. – In many cases it is a question of the teacher’s approach. The system gives a basic curriculum, but it does not impose teaching methods ­–  points out Emilia Maciejewska of the Department of Vocational and Lifelong Learning at the Ministry of Education.


According to prof. Andrzej Wysmołek, Pro-dean for Student Affairs at the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw, the solution may lie in an internship system starting as early as high school. He presents an example: due to teachers’ involvement in final high school exams, other students are wasting time. – They could use that time to have internships at companies to see how they function up close and prepare for their careers. Such a solution works very well in  many countries – he argues. – In the US it is normal that all high school students work during the holiday break, regardless of their financial standing. They do this not to earn money, but to get accustomed to working – confirms prof. Andrzej Rabczenko, Adviser to the President of Employers of Poland.


Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak addresses the inaccurate stereotype prevalent in Poland – the conviction that everybody has to graduate from a university in order to be successful professionally. – This is not a good approach. A graduate of a low-quality university will fare worse on the labour market than a graduate of a good vocational school – she emphasizes. Jadwiga Kruczkowska, partner at PSI Poland, also acknowledges the role of close relations between schools and companies. – Young people certainly need practical skills – she says.


As a result, we are often dealing with demanding candidates who do not have basic qualifications after graduation – summarizes Jan Banasikowski of Work Service. He also points out that many jobs which are now among the most in demand, did not even exist up until a few years ago e.g. some jobs connected to social media. – For this reason it is important for the education system to forecast and take into consideration the trends that may reveal themselves in the future – he points out.


– Education which appropriately prepares young people for adult life and is adapted to the needs of the labour market is like gardening. In order to harvest a good crop, seeds have to be elected first. The soil has to be adapted. Then water, light, the right temperature, fertilizing and protection against pests is needed – concludes prof. Andrzej Rabczenko.


The participants agree that this is how the Polish education system should work.


The debate was organized within the framework of the “Establishment of the Research and Analysis Center” project, Human Capital Operational Program, Sub-activity 5.5.2.