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Small events with a large reach 2017 (6/7): Basic skills and competences of the employed – messages from employers to policy-makers and professionals

The host of the sixth Promoting Adult Skills (PAS) event was the Velenje Adult Education Centre (AEC) which on the 26 June invited to a meeting the representatives from the economic, political, education, public and non-governmental sectors and employees.

The host of the sixth Promoting Adult Skills (PAS) event was the Velenje Adult Education Centre (AEC), which on the 26 June invited the representatives from the economic, political, education, public and non-governmental sectors and employees to a meeting in the beautiful Villa Bianca in Velenje. From the participants Peter and Laura Apat stood out, both highly educated and who had dream jobs in Ljubljana just a few years ago and are now making their vision a reality on a family farm stay. This business also requires from you to be involved in continuing education and learning – in many informal ways, since taking over a farm is not a simple thing, they said.


The education system must adapt to the demand for knowledge of advanced work!

In the introductory statement, Tanja Skaza, the director of Skaza Smart Plastic, reminded everyone that work in the future will be shaped by three factors – automation, globalization and cooperation. The key will therefore be digital competences, but a change in mindset to support different concepts of cooperation will also be necessary. Old competences (excellent manual skills, knowledge of machines and materials, etc.) will become obsolete, people will have to be able to identify trends, practice analytical thinking as well as know and co-create consumer needs, etc. “We expect these new forms of knowledge from young people and we will provide them with the experience,” she explained about the complementary roles of younger and more senior employees. Both must gain something from it and the collaboration must be based on mutual respect. Tanja says it all starts with yourself. Learning and permanent exchange of views with the coaches are the cornerstones of her work. Most of the work she does is what she really believes in. It is probably needless to say that she expects nothing less from her colleagues.


We need employees who are ready to learn!

The project Acquisition of basic and vocational competences (Pridobivanje temeljnih in poklicnih kompetenc – PTPK), which is being implemented in the Gorenje Group in cooperation with the Velenje AEC, has finally made it possible to introduce training to employees with a lower education. Because people older than 45 with a secondary education are generally not in favour of additional education, raising awareness was the first step. “We imagined a campaign that would involve everyone employed in the company, but we also managed to attract the workers’ union and committee,” is how Tatjana Draksler and Barbara Mladovan explain their efforts. This 50-hour training, which took place in their premises, but outside of their working hours, brought new language and computer skills to almost 165 attendees. After the successful completion of the training they received an incentive corresponding to the amount paid for half of hours of the duration of the training. The aim of incentives is to provoke curiosity and to bring joy to learning and its effects.


Vocational competences are almost easier to obtain than those soft, personal ones.

At the central round table we discussed and took a look at the fundamental competences from different angles. Selma Filipančič Jenko, PhD, of Invel, despite being the owner and director of several companies and an expert in the education of adults, represented the views of the non-governmental sector. She emphasized the personal characteristics: having a gleam in one’s eyes, being human... and volunteering. Peter Dermol, the deputy mayor of the municipality of Velenje, warned us about the trap of saving money, which presumes that employees represent a cost instead of an investment. Because he worked in the economic sector in the past, he is aware of the importance of learning from bad practices. He believes in connectedness between all the employees and cultivating a sense of belonging. Nataša Detečnik, director of the Velenje Regional Office of the Public Employment Service of Slovenia, told us that the unemployment rate is approaching the pre-crisis rate and that the demand for personnel is growing so rapidly that long-term unemployed people are increasingly finding employment. Several trainings are being organized to empower job seekers and help them establish connections with potential employers. Sabina Avdič Mastnak, an attendee, first experienced a training programme at the Velenje AEC. They helped her overcome her fears and become motivated. Now she helps others, since she is familiar with the obstacles and can identify with them, while being determined to find solutions for herself and other people like her. Franja Centrih from the Žalec Adult Education Centre pointed out the importance of support activities, namely guidance and validation of the non-formally and informally acquired knowledge and skills of adults. For everyone, especially for vulnerable target groups, it is important to realize that knowledge is a virtue that opens many doors. As the author of the text, I contributed information about the EAAL project, the purpose of the professional events, connecting the field of economy with (adult) learning and about the current European Social Fund projects, which are held at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education and at the local level with networks of adult education providers.


Too much “babying” is not helpful, you have to face facts and take action!

Other participants attended the thematic discussions depending on which topics were emphasized. The director of the School Centre Velenje told us, that the education sector is aware of the need for changes. The curriculum allows them to adapt up to 20% of the educational content to each class, almost on an individual level, and potential employers also have a say in this. Peter Apat learned firsthand that formal training with no practical work experience does not guarantee the successful entry into the labour market. Elido Bandelj, director of the Centre for Vocational Education and Training, pointed out the need for the coordinated work of educators, employers as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Craft and Small Businesses for the common good of all, especially young adult participants of the vocational education and training. The latter must provide broad profiles, which will not only be able to read data, but also develop a deeper understanding of things. But it is not only jobs that are changing, the methods of work are also changing. The public organization Public Utility Company of Velenje is increasingly deviating from its core activities on to the market, which increases the need for different skills and approaches, since dealing with people is in the forefront. Good interpersonal skills and competences are especially important in the Retirement Home Velenje. The work here can quickly change from a profession into a mission, the appropriate competences are now already taught to children in primary and secondary schools with which they cooperate.

At the end of the event Tanja Skaza told us, based on her own life throughout which she worked in many different jobs, from being a waitress, a saleswoman, to being the director of Zlatarna Celje and her current job, that: “Everyone with a spark in their eyes can succeed.” At 19 it dawned on her during a visit to Invel, the incubator for entrepreneurship, after which she joined the adult education programme. But the decisive factors were her tenacity, desire to learn and determination to succeed.


Behind the scenes of the Velenje event there was a clear structure skillfully led by their directress, Brigita Kropušek Ranzinger, by interchangeably inviting individual members to speak at different thematic discussions. While here and there the structure got a bit blurry, so to the untrained eye it might have seemed as though the mosaic of key learnings just happened on its own. Its purpose was not only to create different views of the connection between employment and education, but to deal with the field of personal development and active citizenship. The education of employees turned on its head – masterful!


You can find more information on EAAL PAS events focused on various existing activities for promoting the development of basic skills and key competences of adults, and for presentation of achievements and definition of opportunities and challenges at this page.


You are kindly invited to read about our past events:

Small events with a large reach 2017 (1/7): Involvement of volunteers in working with migrants 

Small events with a large reach 2017 (2/7): Youth on their path to entrepreneurship

Small events with a large reach 2017 (3/7): The development of the competences of adults in rural areas – opportunities and challenges 

Small events with a large reach 2017 (4/7): The development of knowledge and skills of human resources in economy 

Small events with a large reach 2017 (5/7): Opportunities for strengthening competences of young adults during their transition from school to employment 



Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MA ( Institute for Adult Education


Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik works at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education in the field of promotional and information activities. She is the national coordinator for the implementation of the European Agenda on Adult Learning. She is interested in effective promotional approaches and promotion of cooperation and connecting of stakeholders in adult education.


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