Qualifications Adjusted to Employers’ Needs Project

Brief: 

The Qualifications Adjusted to Employers’ Needs Project promotes cooperation between the business and education sectors. The project is co-funded by the European Union under the European Social Fund, and aims to match, strengthen and develop education programmes in response to labour market changes and employer needs.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • Participants of the conference Education and Science in 21st Century – the Business Perspective, organized by PKPP Lewiatan, concluded that notwithstanding the high unemployment rate, companies have great difficulties in finding the right employees. This is due to the fact that job seekers, the unemployed and graduates from schools and universities are insufficiently qualified.
  • Financial solutions are needed to cover costs of expensive vocational and specialized education taking place in companies, schools, at universities and in other educational institutions.
Solution: 
  • PKPP Lewiatan promotes educational courses that are in line with employers' needs with special consideration to vocational education.
  • The project formally defined the nature of the skills gap and the pressing need for collaborative solutions. PKPP Lewiatan performed a gap analysis of skills needed in the private sector compared to those offered in the education system. The Labour Market Council helped to define and track the skills gap.
  • The project encouraged businesses to be transparent about their workforce needs. PKPP Lewiatan surveyed employers to create a desired skills list for prospective employees and then shared this information with educational institutions. PKPP Lewiatan also conducted meetings with the Polish Ministry of Education and the private sector to raise awareness of the skills gap issue.
Impact: 
  • The Confederation inspired reforms in the national education system. There is now a stronger emphasis on practical application in technical programmes. There is equal weight placed on theory and practical learning as opposed to the previous 70/30 split.
  • Companies are now actively engaged in dialogue with educational institutions. Companies have created internships for students and opened up opportunities for students to conduct joint research.
  • Companies are now more aware of benefits that result from planned and purposeful improvement of employees’ qualifications. They are looking for collaborative solutions and will continue to propose changes to the current system.
Why has it worked?: 
  • The private sector is responsible for 70% of Poland's GDP, which means that private employers are present in the most cutting-edge sectors of the Polish economy. Members of Lewiatan enjoy a dominant position in a wide range of policy discussions.
  • The project exposed a common theme amongst Polish entrepreneurs – a serious lack of desirable skills among their workers. It showed a real need for core educational organizations to cooperate with market representatives to create new skills programmes. PKPP Lewiatan inspired a dialogue and mutual understanding amongst educational institutions and private employers.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 

PKPP Lewiatan suggests that the following actions are essential to improving employability:

  • There should be systematic monitoring of graduates’ progress, the quality of formal and informal education, and labour demand and supply. School and university funding should be conditional on these measured results.
  • Business should be involved in shaping curricula. Sector profession development councils to improve education should include experts from public and private educational institutions, persons from formal and informal educational institutions, business people and representatives of departments of Education, Science and Higher Education, and Labour and Social Policy.
  • Increase the importance of practical knowledge in vocational education, both in secondary schools and universities; provide financing for the involvement of business representatives into practical education in schools.
  • Improve the quality of teachers’ education by requiring teachers to constantly update their vocational knowledge and didactic skills. Assess teachers’ work and remunerating on the basis of results achieved by their students and according to percentages of passed exams that confirm students' skills and general and vocational knowledge.
  • Development of a coherent legal system and financial solutions that would stimulate workers (particularly 50+ workers and those working in professions unadjusted to the needs of the labour market) to learn through their lifetime and motivate employers towards constant investment.
Foundational Issues: 
Critical skills gaps
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 3: Collaboration on an industry or regional level
Region: 
Europe
Economic and political context: 
  • Each association within the Confederation is an autonomous organization that has its own individual enterprise, statute, and management.
  • PKPP Lewiatan runs its own office and employs professionals experienced in a wide range of issues such as: labour relations, macroeconomics, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the European Union. The Confederation participates in Social Dialogue and takes part in the Tripartite Commission for social and economic issues.
About the Author(s): 

The Polish Confederation of Private Employers Lewiatan (PKPP Lewiatan) was established in January 1999 as a nation-wide representation of employers to the state and trade unions. Today it is an organization of 59 sector and regional associations of private employers and 25 individual members. In total there are about 3,500 companies employing over 650,000 workers.