Is it possible to reconcile the traditional curriculum of pupils and students with the actual needs of employers in the modern business services sector, who have to adapt their company structure to ever-changing global trends? How do you guarantee young people a permanent and well-paid job? There are solutions to this.

We discuss these and other questions at the “Qualifications of the Future in the Business Services Sector” conferences, as a member of the BSS Sectoral Competence Council. We have been to Tychy, Bialystok, Lublin, Rzeszow, Kielce, Zielona Gora, Krakow, Gdansk, Bydgoszcz, Szczecin, Lodz, Poznan, Warsaw and most recently, Wroclaw. And we would like to say a few words about the last conference.

The education system and the search for talent

The voice of education was taken up by representatives of universities, school superintendents, teacher training centres and other institutions who know best the situation of the world of Polish formal education, which today – although extremely valuable and important – has its difficult moments. Especially at a time when the needs of the labour market are changing dynamically and new technologies are emerging all the time.

One speaker recalled the words of Dr Marzena Żylińska: “In yesterday’s schools, yesterday’s teachers teach today’s students to solve tomorrow’s problems.” As a country, we are still confronted with the problem of theoretical education, which rarely has a reference in the later reality when the “fifth graders” go out into the labour market. The expanding curriculum is not only a difficult experience for pupils/students but above all for teaching staff, who firstly are not always able to focus on individual talents and secondly do not have the means and power to organise practical laboratories between tests/examinations. In this way, the development of young people is standardised and stunted until they themselves decide to develop further.

What does business have to say about this?

On the other hand, entrepreneurs and representatives of the BSS sector (BPO, SSC, R&D or IT/ICT) speak unanimously- Personal competences such as the ability to learn, critical thinking, adaptability, multidisciplinarity are key. Equally important, however, are social competences such as emotional intelligence, the ability to cooperate (also in a multicultural team), managing people. Employers still see serious deficiencies in language skills concerning even today’s basic English. In each of the conferences, one can hear a full voice of support and backing for all initiatives connecting business and academic circles, one even has the impression that business owners fully understand the need to introduce young people to the labour market at the earliest possible stage of development. During the dialogue, there will be examples of joint projects, joint successes of local workplaces and educational institutions.

So how do we reconcile the formal learning process with the needs of employers?

All participants point out that one solution is shorter forms of education and qualification (MQF). In this way, both education and business are relieved. By cooperating with institutions that deliver ZSL qualifications, schools and colleges gain added value for students/students the attractiveness of the institution and the students themselves. Employers, on the other hand, are assured that their potential trainees/employees will be a guaranteed company growth and a well-invested resource.

Both education, business and local government know what the labour market wants or, through such discussions, begin to understand each other and draw common conclusions. Therefore, it is encouraging to see these three communities acting together to improve the Polish economy and, in further consequences, the quality of life for the next generations – and this element is part of the sense and idea of the NUB Sectoral Competence Council.