On June 10th 2014, the Committee for Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petition of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic organized a public hearing with the title: Current development trends, methods and resources in youth education: Balance between formal and informal education. Professional support was administrated by „Youth Time“, an International Youth Organization that focuses its activities on research, detailed analyses of issues and mapping all areas associated with the field of education.
The public hearing was attended by representatives from the Public, Private, Academic and Non-profit sectors. The debate was opened with speeches by Senator Jiří Oberfalzer and Julia Kinash, President of the International Youth Organization „Youth Time“. Both speakers stressed the importance of the discussion of the topic scheduled for today‘s debate and asked all participants to contribute with their experience and knowledge.
The discussion was extensive and covered several topics. A lot of attention was paid to formal and informal education, training of youth for the labor market, and educating teachers to partake in these processes.
Representatives of the Public and Private Sectors pointed out several key documents and programs dedicated to youth and their support. These programs represent opportunities for educating not only our youth, but also provide opportunities for education and training of teachers and leisure activities coaches, or even collaboration between schools (universities) and businesses.
During the discussion, the rigidity of the current education system was outlined, where schools and universities are not able to respond with flexibility to the competency requirements of employers. The Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Marcel Chládek confirmed in his letter the need for reform in education by the current world trends. In the letter, the Minister also professed his full support of this initiative and stressed the importance of this issue.
The actual competency deficiencies and the lack of sophistication in the school system is known to employers, so there is a pressure to change the whole educational system.
For example, the application of informal education could be an opportunity for young people to be prepared better for employment and the labor market. Leisure activities add value and expand the statutory education system and create the professional and personal identity of the individual. Especially important is this time between adolescence and adulthood (it is a part of life when people do not have a clear self-image and have no professional status).
Contributory and non-profit organizations play an important role in the leisure activities sphere. These organizations motivate young people to further their education and arouse their interest in finding and developing their skills. Membership in such organizations entails an active involvement in university events and society in the world. A good quality measure of their activities is the popularity with young people and their desire to join these organizations.
All participants undoubtedly agreed that informal education has many advantages and good effects. However, it is also necessary to pay attention to individuals who are less qualified and do not have enough skills. It is necessary to work with these individuals and include them in the process of furthering their education and development.
In the past, this activity was administered, along with many other services, by Regional Educational Centers, but after the centers were cancelled, the National Institute now administers this activity for Further Education (NIDV), which has branches in all regions. Unfortunately, proper funding sources to expand the activities of NIDV have not been allocated yet.
Participants discussed the current situation with the labor market in the Czech Republic from the perspectives of young people and graduates. Although the situation in the Czech Republic is not as unfavorable as in the southern EU countries, youth unemployment has reached 18.9% in 2013. The number is not alarming, but the goal of the Employment Policy in 2020 is to lower the youth unemployment rate to 12.2%.
The discussion also addressed the current problem of youth entering the labor market, that is: inadequate qualifications, lack of practice, shortage of opportunities to gain skills and abilities to success in the labor market. The solution might be retraining of employees (job applicants) or applying dual system of education modeled after Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Norway. (However, it has to be acknowledged that dual system requires dual financing, co-financing by employers).
The Czech Republic responds to the recommendations of the European Council of April 22, 2013, and therefore adopts program “Youth Guarantee”. This program guarantees that every young person up to 25 years of age receives either a quality offer of employment or further education, training or internship within four months after becoming unemployed, and also after the completion of formal education or dropping out of the formal education system.
Great examples, Škoda Auto a.s. companies have a sophisticated corporate system of education, collaborate with schools on all levels, initiate tax deductions, participate on preparations of sectoral agreements in the field of engineering and are strong supporters of program POSPOLU.
Based on these company activities, it is evident that the demand for retraining or education of the candidates and employees is great. However, there are some concerns, for the candidates must possess at least some basic competencies and also the degradation of expertise of the workforce in the country must be avoided. Employers point to the fact that they often prefer personal qualities and ability to learn over a university degree. A university degree is no longer a guarantee in terms of the quality of the candidate, for companies it is only evidence confirming an ability to learn. This reality has its impact in the work of HR professionals, who now more often use for their work and data verification social networks and the internet.