Studying abroad and a foosball table are not the cure-all

  • May 05, 2017
  • AmCham Hungary
Well rounded skill set, flexibility, humility, feedback – Participants of the III. Competitive Education Conference would develop these areas for a more competitive education and labor market

On 4 May 2017 more than 200 corporate, governmental and education experts and students gathered at the III. Competitive Education Conference at the InterContinental Hotel in order to examine labor market’s expectations about education, the areas to be developed, as well as the possible fields of cooperation between the particular participants. In 2015 AmCham and the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA) launched the Competitive Education Conference in cooperation with Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) and the Ministry for National Economy in order to create a dialogue between academic organizations, companies and the government with the aim to develop Hungary’s long-term labor market competitiveness.

The professional background of the event was provided by three current, youth-focused pieces of research whose main findings were discussed by the participants. In their niche research Engame Academy was exploring how Hungarian students studying abroad see their future. The online survey was conducted with the participation of 500 students currently attending foreign university education or recently graduated. PwC's latest Employer Brand Research was based on interviews with more than twelve thousand students from various secondary and higher education institutions, as well as  by interviewing young graduates. The research makes it easier for companies to see what expectations young people have for employers, and which preferences and criteria are important to them when they make decisions about designing their career or choosing their workplace. Finally, the large scale Hungarian Youth Research survey conducted by the New Generation Center (Új Nemzedék Központ) in 2016 examined questions regarding starting a family and career development of young adults.

For a summary of the research presentations please visit the following links: 

The main goal of this year’s event – besides creating a platform, sharing knowledge and best practices – was to identify constructive recommendations in the fields of education and labor force that would develop Hungary’s competitiveness. These recommendations will be communicated towards the Government by AmCham in the framework of the following four topics: how to inspire young people to return to Hungary, how to retain talents, new employee demands, skills of university students.

During the conversations, numerous ideas and suggestions were formulated. From the ideas touching upon the field of education, it is crucial to emphasize that in many cases attending a foreign university does not necessarily guarantee better and more valuable qualification than a Hungarian degree program. On one hand, it is definitely rewarding to spend 3-5 years at a foreign university if the students are specialized in a particular topic and get admission to a top university focusing on that field of research. On the other hand, a semester-long international exchange program might serve as not just an adventure but as a great international experience that can be used later at work. International experience offers the best way for students to develop skills on which the Hungarian education system is not focusing properly yet. These include presentation skills, project, and teamwork or digital education.

According to a significant change in labor market trends, it is not the employer who chose their employees anymore but the employees who pick where he or she might want to start a career. Therefore, companies have been looking for a cure-all for years how to address younger generation and how to retain talents for the long-term. Would foosball tables and free flavored lemonade be the solution for this? Definitely not. Not in the long run.

Preliminary surveys and on-the-spot conversations also revealed that a key factor of the solution should be found in the flexibility of companies. Flexibility can have different manifestations, such as: telework, flexible working hours, summer internship programs, or flexibility in the description of a particular job. Mutual trust, continuous feedback and a possibility to learn from each other are also significant elements of the solution. One of the most important messages for students was to look for and seize opportunities and act humbly in new tasks and situations. Educational institutions should first and foremost develop further their well-set basis by incorporating international best practices. The participants also highlighted that educational institutions in cooperation with companies should work out a more practical, skill-focused and digital education systems.  

For the poll results, conducted at the event, please visit the following link:

We would like to thank of organizing partners, professional partners and corporate sponsors for a wonderful cooperation!