Further education gives hope, but not to people in Slovakia

Stepping up to world-class further education provision does not end with a strategy, examples from abroad show.

Sweden is a European leader in further education, with 34.3 percent of involved adults in 2019.Sweden is a European leader in further education, with 34.3 percent of involved adults in 2019. (Source: TASR)

This article was published in the Career & Employment Guide 2021, our special annual publication focused on the labour market, human resources and education.

27-year-old Monika Gilbertová had been registered for over a year at a labour office in Rimavská Sobota after losing her job in manufacturing when she tried to upskill through a month-long small business course, covered by the office, in November 2020.

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Although the course she chose was “not the best” she hopes to sign up for two more, brushing up on her English and reskilling for a career in fashion design. She wants to start a new life outside Rimavská Sobota – one of the least devel- oped Slovak regions with a current unemployment rate of about 20 percent.

“Many are pushed into manufacturing,” Gilbertová said. “Even though these jobs are well paid, everyone has something they would really like to do.” Through the REPAS vocational education and training programme, administered by the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family (ÚPSVaR), 6,647 out of almost 160,000 registered jobseekers reskilled in 2019, the official data show.

While the project is considered somewhat successful across the board, with 39.6 percent of participants returning to the labour market within six months in 2019, experts see a bigger problem with regard to existing unemployment and technological changes elsewhere in the underdeveloped further education system.

According to Eurostat, 3.6 percent of people in Slovakia partook in further education in 2019, which is well below the EU27 average of 10.8 percent.

Naming one of the reasons behind the unfavourable stats, Michal Páleník from the Employment Institute said: “Slovakia has long been fighting with the split of education between the Education Ministry and the Labour Ministry.”

More flexible but underfunded

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