The number of professions in which skills acquired in youth can be applied over their entire lifetime is declining. People change professions a number of times in their life. The demand for skills has changed: the proportion of cognitive and communication skills exceed that of manual and routine skills. Preparation for different occupations is provided to people of different ages and in various life situations. Traditional institutional instruction is complemented by a number of on-site forms of education conducted directly at the workplace, in the community, and even at home. The importance of certification obtained through specialized distance-learning courses, supplementary or advanced education or requalification courses is growing.
Will efforts be successful to link the objectives and content of compulsory education with the training required for various professions? How are the providers of training going to adapt to the demographic trends and changes in the labor market? How will preparation for occupations take different socio-economic backgrounds, the health condition and the individual skills of learners into account?
Most people in Slovakia think that education should prepare people for a placement in the labor market (89%) and help them to establish themselves in competition with others (76%). About a third of the people believe that even children going through compulsory education should compete among themselves to become familiar with competition in adulthood. On the other hand, although people regard drive and efforts to achieve individual success to be useful, they are not the most important human values for many. It turns out that people appreciate the willingness to cooperate, team work, and collaborative learning in groups more.
Almost half of people assume that for a successful life in the future, it will be important to quickly adapt to changes (49%), be successful in competition with others (40%), and to have people around you that you can count on (49%). More than half are convinced that education will be highly specialized in the future to respond to the needs of the labor market (68%) and it will require high individual performances (63%). Professional training will also need to adapt to such developments.
Experts point to the escalating pressure on the performance of children. Some parents are placing increased demands on children, particularly in connection with the possibility of transferring to secondary grammar schools already in the 6th grade, and schools for the talented. In preparation for a life career, the career of an athlete, artist, etc., some children achieve performances on the edge of their limits.1
The research in the field of vocational training in Slovakia sought to find who influences children the most in primary schools in their choice of profession and secondary school, what information children have, and where they get it from. It turned out that most of the information is obtained from parents (20%) and the Internet (18%). Career counselors working in primary schools are the source of such information only in 10% of cases.2
„We live in an aggressive age emphasizing performance, with everybody competing against one another. We don't know how children would turn out if they were led from a young age to working together. We will only find out once it happens.“ a workshop participant in the city of, Banská Bystrica
The pupils of primary schools show the greatest interest in further study at secondary vocational schools with a school-leaving examination (43%), then secondary grammar schools (almost 30%), followed, with a large gap, by art schools and secondary vocational schools without a school-leaving examination (both less than 6%). Nearly 17% of 8th graders usually do not yet know what secondary school they would like to continue to study at.3
In the past in Slovakia, students used to enroll in college immediately after high school graduation. In recent years, this is no longer the rule. Many high school graduates take a study break after the school-leaving examination, whether voluntarily or because they are not admitted to a college. They spend their time by working at home or abroad, or by traveling.4 When choosing a college, up to 74% claim the most important motivational factor for them was the overall future prospects of the field of study. Girls consider their personal interest in individual subjects studied in the chosen field (49%) and boys consider getting a well-paid position after graduation (50%). Parents have a relatively major impact on young people’s choice of college. 5
The knowledge economy is a vague concept for most people. Its potential is taken into account mostly by young, better educated people from larger cities. However, few people are able to define what it actually is. The need for lifelong learning tends to be ascribed to better educated individuals and the younger generation. Less educated people think lifelong learning is not for them. 6
GOOD TO KNOW
In the United States, standardized testing plays an important role in advancing to higher educational levels. Researchers from the University of Chicago looked at what other indicators could be used to identify the predispositions of children for secondary education. It turned out that standardized testing of pupils finishing primary schools is a much weaker tool than originally thought. A successful test does not automatically guarantee success in further studies. Whether a student will be successful in secondary school can be predicted much better by their school attendance and their study results over the long term, not just in the final grades.6
„Today, it is impossible to foresee what professions will be needed in 20-30 years. When you look at the list of the professions today, you will find that many of them did not even exist 20 years ago. Indeed, we truly don't know today what the future has in store for us. It is naive to imagine that someone wise in some government department or a research institute will tell us what professions we are going to need 20 years from now. The most important thing is for schools to prepare people to think creatively, teach them not only to gather information, but also to analyze it and make the right decisions. Sadly, this is very different from the learning offered by the contemporary school system, which is still based on memorizing the facts.“ Vladimír Baláž, economist
International research has shown that study results and attendance after entering secondary school become poor also in students who had good results in the final grades of primary school and passed secondary school admission tests. In examining the possible reasons, scientists uncovered one relatively reliable "recipe" for eliminating the risk of failure in secondary school students—they require more attention in middle school. Those students who have a problem with the transition to the middle school may have a problem transitioning to further education levels, regardless of their real study potential. It is therefore important to pay attention, not only to marks, but also to children's capacity to adapt to changes and develop a healthy self-esteem. 7
„We want young people to also choose vocational schools, not just secondary grammar schools. And then they come to school and their dream of the craft slowly starts to fade. Why? The schools have outdated equipment and do not allow students to try their craft in practice. We bring up people who are unemployable and then we pay huge money to get them requalified for other professions so that activity is shown by the labor office and care for the unemployed. And this is how we turn in circles until we run out of EU funds and Slovakia requests additional ones.“ Branislav Gröhling, businessman
A number of experts are hopeful about the concept of education based on competences. They recommend that training no longer focuses on academic knowledge and starts to develop more practically applicable skills. Organizationally, it should be broken down into a number of separate and mutually combinable modules, from which students are able to select only those they need for their career. The providers of these modules need not necessarily be schools; other institutions should start to come to play, including employers themselves.8
 Nadácia pre deti Slovenska (2010) Novo vynárajúce sa potreby detí na Slovensku. Bratislava.
 Štátny inštitút odborného vzdelávania (2014) Analýza problémov vedúcich k nízkemu záujmu zo strany žiakov ZŠ o OVP na SOŠ. Bratislava. Dostupné ako pdf.
 Filozofický ústav SAV (nd) Analýza dát – výber vysokej školy a prijatie na štúdium. Dostupné ako .doc.
 Bunčák, J. et al. (2009) Názory občanov na budúcnosť Slovenska. Bratislava: Ekonomický ústav SAV. Dostupné ako pdf.
 Allenswort, E. M. et.al. (2014) Looking Forward to High School and College. Middle Grade Indicators of Readiness in Chicago Public Schools. Chicago: The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Dostupné ako pdf.
 Schumpeter, J. (2014) Got skills? Retooling vocational education. In The Economist, 23.8.2014. Dostupné na: http://www.economist.com/
 Weise, M. R., Christensen C. M. (2014) Hire Education. Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution. San Mateo, CA: Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. Dostupné ako pdf.