Peter Rusiňák is policy officer at AmCham Slovakia
The American Chamber of Commerce in the Slovak Republic focused within the Education 2.0: Envision the Progress conference on the quality of outcomes of the formal education system in Slovakia in the European context. According to both 2017 OECD Education at Glance outcomes and the 2018 European Commission country report, public expenditures on education in Slovakia has been low over the last decade, while implementation of measures to address weaknesses in overall education system has been delayed. At the same time teachers´ salaries remain low both internationally and relative to other high skilled jobs.
Given the dynamically changing business environment, the Slovak labor market conditions have improved, but structural challenges are visible in several areas, with the education system at the forefront. As a truly international chamber of commerce representing over 330 companies (over 40 percent of Slovak origin) from 27 countries with operations in the country, AmCham Slovakia proactively supports the close connections between businesses and education institutions. We believe decreasing the gap between academia and companies is the key way to get ahead in improving the overall quality of graduates´ skills and their adaptability on the job market.
AmCham is determined to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in reforming the education system that will develop, attract and retain talents. For a numbers of years, AmCham members have been active in shaping and deepening the cooperation between the educational and corporate sector. We are trying to achieve this by active and constructive dialogue on various platforms such as our Committee on Business – Academic Cooperation or the Business Service Center Forum. We believe dialogue should be followed by action and over the past years we have successfully completed many projects aiming to develop the necessary skill set of both students and teachers such as the Skills for Success university accredited course, Mentor Network Program, Train the Trainer and many others.
One of our flagship programs, the Mentor Network Program, has annually been organized since 2008 in Bratislava and since 2012 in Košice respectively. It provides young talented university students with the opportunity of long-term mentoring from the most prominent representatives of the business sector in Slovakia, usually C-level company representatives. Thanks to the active contact with their mentor, many of the graduates managed to start their own business, get an internship or a job position in the company of their mentor.
Changes in the labor market have increased the demand for both blue and white collars. In the most successful countries, economies run on creativity, innovation and collaboration. Having the right match of skilled people and being able to attract talents has become essential for every country. For Slovakia to capitalize on global opportunities and to meet business needs, we must be able to attract and retain the skilled experts, but also grow domestic talents and leaders in the highly competitive global market.