On May 11, Executive Club hosted another club meeting, entitled “Education-Innovation”, at “Mamaison Le Regina Hotel” in Warsaw. The meeting featured debates concerning the lack of adjustment of the Polish educational system to the needs of modern business. Representatives of business and science presented their opinions on the methods of reducing the discrepancies between the needs of the market and the skills of graduates, as well as on how this may translate to innovation in the economy.
The meeting was opened by the President of Executive Club, Beata Radomska, who presented a report from a study conducted by Cigno Consulting, a personnel consulting company, concerning the expectations of employers towards graduates and the ways in which companies can contribute to the improvement of the quality of the education received by future employees.
The study indicated that according to employers, personal competences, the so-called soft skills, are more important than specialist knowledge. Managers estimate that it is easier to make up for gaps in knowledge than to learn such skills as priority setting, work organization, and time management. What is surprising, students consider such soft skills to be of little importance, which is in opposition to the expectations of employers. Entrepreneurs pointed out that the style of teaching in Poland is too rigid and schematic, which is not conductive to creativity, while the acquired knowledge is too general and theoretical.
The report served as a starting point for a debate, the participants of which included prof. Andrzej Koźmiński from Kozminski University, dr hab. Roman Szwed – President of the Board, Atende S.A., Edyta Ziajowska – Marketing Director, PayU, and John Ing – Director of Dukes Education Group, a British organization specializing in educational consulting. The moderator of the debate was Jakub Kapiszewski from the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily.
The debate was focused mainly on the methods of improving education in Poland. Prof. Andrzej Koźmiński postulated that universities should no longer be funded by the state. According to him, state subsidies do not cause universities to change their education models. They are satisfied with the status quo, but the traditional university culture is not adjusted to the needs of the modern business culture. Demographic factors cause the situation to change, as universities are searching for new sources of funding. On the other hand, the Polish business lacks innovativeness – it produces simple products, purchases ready-made solutions, and this is the reason why cooperation between business and universities is so limited.
– It seems that business is making progress, looking for new competitive advantages and support from universities. These are still exceptions, however – said prof. Koźmiński.
Roman Szwed emphasized that the role of universities should mainly be to teach students how to learn and gain additional new skills. He stated that in order for the economy to become more innovative, a strategic change is required in the attitude of Polish companies, which should set ambitious, long-term goals.
– We have bright students, but for many of them a good salary isn’t enough. They want to be involved in something important, something great. If companies offer no such challenges and goals, there will be no movement towards innovativeness, we will not attract the most creative individuals – he said.
According to Edyta Ziajowskiej from PayU, the most important thing for the Polish education system is to teach interpersonal skills. – The art of public speaking and presentation should be taught as early as in kindergarten, just like in the United Kingdom – she said. She stated that without the ability to work in a group or to share knowledge, many interesting and innovative projects will never be implemented. Innovativeness also requires the creation of an environment enabling free exchange of thoughts and formation of ideas.
John Ing admitted that British schools devote much more attention to the so-called soft skills – for example, they involve students in the organization of large-scale events. Students are also given a lot of time to develop their own interests.
Prof. Andrzej Koźmiński summarized the debate with a call for more freedom in schools and universities, which should result in more creativity and innovativeness of their graduates and, in the end, of the entire economy.
– We have a very rigid approach to education. The same curricula for everyone. I am certain that more freedom in schools will result in more innovativeness. Bureaucratic environment kills innovations – he said.
Partners: Cigno Consulting, Palisander, PayU, Xerox
Media Patronage: Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Manager, Polish Market, Rynek Inwestycji
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About Executive Club:
Executive Club is an organization bringing together the members of top management representing the most important Polish and international companies. Since 2005, the Club has assembled well-established business leaders, whose actions set standards in the development of the Polish economy. The Club organizes regular meetings for its members to provide them with opportunities for business networking and sharing ideas. It is also a leader in organizing industry conferences dedicated to various branches of the economy. For more information, please visit our website: www.executive-club.com.pl