At the beginning of June the participants of this year’s fourth Promoting Adult Skills (PAS) event hosted by the Ajdovščina Adult Education Centre (AEC) gathered in the Primorska region. Representatives of the economic sector, entrepreneurs and educational and other support institutions exchanged their opinions on the topic of the development of knowledge and skills of employees.
Partnership between educational institutions and the economy
In the opening statements Tadej Beočanin, the mayor of Ajdovščina, and Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MSc, the EAAL project manager at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE), emphasized the necessity of the active integration of different players. They are on the right track, here in the Ajdovščina region. Eva Mermolja, the directress of Ajdovščina AEC, told us that the educators want to be informed about the needs of business, so they can adequately respond to them. The economy in the region is improving, there is a lot of demand for specialized personnel, but one also needs to listen to the needs of the people, the local environment and connect with the supporting institutions in the region. The key therefore is a local partnership, where different stakeholders work hand in hand.
Employees’ competences should be developed
Nives Fortunat Šircelj from the institution Zavod ZAPOSLISE emphasized the fact that nowadays the work methods are rapidly changing and with it the need for knowledge and skills. It is therefore crucial to educate and train employees and to be able to motivate them. With the increasing automation of work processes, such as operating new machines, for example, new specific competences and knowledge, such as ICT skills, computer literacy, knowledge of foreign languages etc. will be required. Especially the so called soft skills are getting more and more important, which must also be obtained by the professional technical personnel. Investing in knowledge and the development of appropriate skills is therefore necessary.
Highly qualified employees – increased company competitiveness
Zoran Keser from the Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia spoke about the Competence centres for the development of personnel (COC) and their positive impact on employee involvement in education. Education and training of employees means added value in the company. Employees have become more aware about the importance of continued education and training of employees. Steklarna Hrastnik glassworks is a good example, where education has become a value and they have been intensively investing into it. Nataša Čermelj from Mlinotest d.d. who participated in the project COC Food (KOC Hrana), talked about the positive impacts and experience of it. At Mlinotest they are aware that only competent employees can manage changes, contribute to a more competitive company and to a higher added value. Therefore investing in staff definitely pays off in the long run.
Individual approach and mentoring
Targeted training, tied to individuals, is what they are betting on in the company Kolektor. This company operates at a global level and has more than 4,000 employees in different parts of the world. Its management is aware of the importance of employee training. The company’s representative, Eva Cvelbar Primožič, highlighted targeted training as being the most important for developing those competences, which certain employees are lacking. First, the individual and his potentials, competences and desires must be analysed, after that an individual development plan is made, personnel are allocated to the job positions most suitable for them, and in this way the work process as well as employee satisfaction is optimized.
An example of good practice in the company is the mentoring system, which should be simple, accessible, motivationally orientated and help solve everyday challenges. The system includes all new employees, those who were reclassified, absent for a longer period or sent to work abroad of from abroad, high school students and university students on mandatory practical training and those who are receiving scholarships. The completed training is followed by an oral exam, which the employee must pass. The mentoring programme has a clear purpose, objective, process, mentor and at the end an evaluation. The positive experience and efficiency are good reasons for implementing this system in other organizations.
Employees aged 45 and over, love to learn as well
The Ptuj Adult Education Centre is connecting people. In the project, which is intended for obtaining fundamental and professional competences, they teamed up with partners and based on an analysis of the social environment, they began to focus on the acquisition of professional skills of employees older than 45. In the Lower Podravje region they have been focusing on agriculture, processing activities and medical/nursing activities. They have organized several programmes where participants can acquire competences, such as foreign languages, computer and digital competences, encouragement to learn, social inclusion, self-initiative and entrepreneurship. Participants report about numerous positive effects and want to learn various new skills which would also be useful in everyday life. It is important that the training programmes are tailored to specific companies, so employees can get involved and eventually benefit from them.
Joint search for solutions
The lack of suitable personnel is what plagues many of the employers in the economic sector. The latter are especially emphasizing the wrong strategy of the education system, which is too focused on general education and neglects the technical aspect. Participants in the debate see the solution in a proper promotion of different professions, which should already begin in kindergartens and then continue throughout the rest of the schooling. The social attitude towards work should also change. People in general lack basic skills, the main problem are social and leadership skills. People today are not persistent, they give up quickly, especially the young lack motivation ... Therefore it is important to give work a sense of meaning, while at the same time it is crucial to allocate employees to job positions best suitable for them, and with it increase their efficiency as well as motivation.
Confidence, self-initiative and entrepreneurship are very important skills for all employees. People must also feel a sense of belonging and especially be prepared for learning. Both employees and employers must invest in their knowledge and skills and be prepared for changes and consequently for learning – the young as well as the old. Of course there should be an awareness that we are not learning only for work, but for life.
Which competences will be increasingly needed in the future?
Negotiation skills, customer service orientation, making judgments and decisions, emotional intelligence, coordination, creativity, people management, critical thinking, complex problem solving. Do we already possess these competences today? And what can we do today, so we will have them by tomorrow?
The key to success in both the economy and in society in general are successful and satisfied employees. To achieve this, they must be constantly developing. It seems Albert Einstein was more than right when he said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Therefore let’s also keep moving in the field of knowledge and skills! Every day!
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:
Ms Simona Kavčič works for the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education, where she is responsible for promotional and information activities. She is also responsible for the Institute’s library which she tries to promote among all interested and participants in adult education. She is inspired by active people of various ages whose activity enriches both their own lives and the life of others.