Sławomir Szymczak: integrating forces, exchanging ideas and sharing solutions
I am an educator, vocational counsellor, social animator and researcher. I work at the Educational Research Institute as an expert in the implementation of the Integrated Qualification System. I also implement projects in the field of vocational activation of adults. I work as an educator and researcher. Currently I am preparing my PhD at Adam Mickiewicz University.
The EPALE platform is for me, above all, a source of up-to-date information. I use the materials posted in the news and resources sections. The texts posted on the blog are very inspiring. I am mainly interested in issues related to vocational counselling and the professional and social activation of adults. In addition to the educational value, I like to use these texts as training materials. Over time, from a passive recipient, I have become an active co-creator of the platform. At the invitation of an EPALE ambassador in October 2020, I co-created a webinar on contemporary trends in career counselling.
I learnt the practical dimension of adult education and its importance in the social activation of adults at the Familijny Poznań Foundation (Nationwide Education Operator), where I worked from 2007 to 2018. I started as an administrative employee there. Then, for many years, I was a project coordinator, and since 2011 I have held management positions. This career path allowed me to develop competences related not only to the implementation of educational offers for adults, but also to their design, evaluation and management. I value this experience very much. As part of my work at the Foundation, I implemented and coordinated projects aimed at strengthening the professional qualifications of therapists working with people affected by social pathologies, professional activation of women aged 50+, and the development of civil society. Working on these projects was an extraordinary learning adventure, but also made me more sensitive to quality issues in projects offering educational support for adults. A reliable diagnosis was very important to me. We carried out a lot of research into the real educational needs of adults and the barriers hindering them from returning to the labour market or taking advantage of educational or professional opportunities. I discovered how important cooperation is.
Integrating forces, exchanging ideas and sharing solutions allowed me to experience the synergy effect in my everyday work.
I found it particularly inspiring to work with the Danes on the implementation of Kofoed's School principles in Poland. We shared solutions in this area not only with adult education practitioners, but we also promoted Kofoed's educational ideas in academic circles. In 2018, I took on a new professional challenge. Working at the Educational Research Institute, I am mainly involved in the implementation of the Integrated Qualification System. This is both training and research work. At work I meet with different groups of people. I conduct trainings and consultations for employers, employees of public employment services, entrepreneurs, employees of business environment institutions, universities and local governments. It is an extraordinary educational adventure. Due to such a wide group of people with whom I cooperate, I have an opportunity to use various training forms. I work in the form of traditional training, lectures, seminars, conduct webinars, I participate in discussion panels and publish articles and reports.
This intensive educational activity has made me realise the importance of two values in adult education. The first is cooperation. It is important to animate environments, communities focused on collaboration and sharing knowledge, experiences and resources. I experience this firsthand in practice as a person initiating and animating partnerships between institutions dealing with vocational counselling in Greater Poland Voivodeship. As part of this cooperation, we held a 3-day conference on various current challenges in career counselling and local initiatives related to promoting good practice in career education and activation. Cooperation also gives an opportunity for a reliable diagnosis of the needs and capabilities of individual partners. On the basis of this diagnosis, it is possible to plan reasonable activities and share tasks. The second value that is very important to me in educational work with adults is professionalism. In my work as an educator, I find time and time again that adults want to learn. At the same time, they pay more and more attention to the quality of the offers. For me, it is important that adults receive knowledge that is not only up-to-date and correct in terms of its content but that is also methodically attractive and useful. In this respect, it is important to recognise the needs of learners or to introduce them to new knowledge and new skills that they may find useful in their professional activities.
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