copy the linklink copied!3. Fostering greater participation in adult learning of all forms

Fostering greater participation in adult learning of all forms can help adults to upskill and address deficiencies in their skill sets, or reskill to respond to changing labour market needs. Adult learning can improve adults’ employment and social outcomes, as well as enterprises’ productivity and performance. This chapter explores three opportunities to foster greater participation in adult learning in Poland: 1) raising awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities; 2) making learning more flexible and accessible for adults; and 3) better sharing and targeting financing to increase participation in adult learning.

    

copy the linklink copied!The importance of adult learning for Poland

The ongoing, life-wide learning of adults in workplaces, educational institutions, communities and homes is becoming increasingly important for Poland’s economic and social development.

Poland has successfully raised adult levels of formal educational attainment: over the last two decades, the tertiary educational attainment of 25-64 year-olds has almost trebled to 30% (OECD, 2019[1]), while the share of adults with only below upper secondary education has fallen by two-thirds, to below 8%. The improvements are even more evident for younger adults: higher education attainment among 30-34 year-olds has more than trebled to 46%, and Poland has the lowest share of low-educated young adults in the European Union (EU) (5% in 2018) (Eurostat, 2019[2]). Young people in Poland get a relatively good start in developing skills: 15-year-old students in Poland performed above the OECD average in science, reading and mathematics in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Adult skill levels have improved considerably: between 1994 and 2012, Poland attained the largest increase in adult literacy proficiency among the 19 countries for which similar data are available (OECD, 2016[3]).

However, many adults in Poland today still have low levels of skills, and will be in the labour market for decades to come (Figure 3.1). According to the OECD Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC) implemented in Poland in 2011/12, about 27% of adults were low skilled in literacy and/or numeracy, a slightly higher share than the OECD average. These adults can successfully complete reading tasks that involve only short and simple texts, and mathematics tasks involving only basic operations. As in many OECD countries, low-skilled adults in Poland typically earn less, have lower employment rates, report poorer health, feel more excluded from political processes and have less trust in others than high-skilled adults. Furthermore, many Polish adults lack “digital” skills. According to a 2017 survey, about 54% of 25-64 year-olds in Poland had no or low digital skills, or had not used the Internet in the last three months. This was a higher share than the average for EU countries (41%) (Eurostat, 2019[4]).

Low-educated and older adults in particular have low levels of skills in Poland. As in most other OECD countries, the educational attainment of adults appears to have the largest impact on literacy skills. In Poland, adults aged 25-65 with a tertiary education have literacy proficiency scores about 55 points higher than those who have not attained an upper secondary qualification, after adjusting for other differences (age, parents’ educational attainment, etc.) (OECD, 2016[5]). In light of Poland’s large gains in educational attainment, younger adults are typically higher skilled than older adults. The literacy and digital skill levels of 16-24 year-olds in Poland are above the OECD and EU averages respectively, while the skills of 25-34 year-olds are slightly below average (OECD, 2016[5]; Eurostat, 2019[4]).

The importance of individuals developing and maintaining skills during adulthood is growing for Poland. In Poland, as in other OECD countries, the megatrends of automation, digitalisation and integration into global value chains are transforming the skills individuals need to effectively participate in work and society. Polish jobs face a higher risk of automation than jobs in most other OECD countries (Figure 3.2). The shrinking of Poland’s labour force arising from population ageing and emigration is putting greater pressure on individuals to upskill and reskill during adulthood to meet evolving skills needs. High- and low-skilled adults increasingly need to upgrade and reskill in order to adapt to more frequent transitions between jobs, non-standard forms of work (and by extension less access to employer sponsored training) and the lengthening of working lives.

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Figure 3.1. Adults with low literacy, numeracy or digital skills
Figure 3.1. Adults with low literacy, numeracy or digital skills

Source: Panel A: OECD (2019[6]), Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933366131; Panel B: Eurostat (2019[4]), European Statistical System 2019 (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036310

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Figure 3.2. Jobs at risk of automation
Figure 3.2. Jobs at risk of automation

Source: Nedelkoska, L. and G. Quintini (2018[7]), “Automation, skills use and training, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 202, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/2e2f4eea-en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036329

Effective adult learning systems help individuals, enterprises and countries respond to these challenges. Adult learning can take several forms and is “life-wide” as it occurs in diverse contexts (Box 3.1).

Ensuring the sufficient quantity and quality of adult learning in Poland is a priority for the country. Poland has established adult learning as a priority and set goals in several strategies: the 2013 Lifelong Learning Perspective (Perspektywa uczenia się przez całe życie), the Strategy for Responsible Development (Strategia na rzecz Odpowiedzialnego Rozwoju, SOR), and now the Integrated Skills Strategy 2030 (General Part) (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności [część ogólna], ZSU) (Eurydice, 2019[8]).

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Box 3.1. Definitions: Adult learning and learning contexts

Adult learning encompasses any education or training activity undertaken by adults for job-related or other purposes, and includes:

  • Formal education or training: education or training activity that leads to a formal qualification (at primary, secondary, post-secondary or tertiary level).

  • Non-formal education or training: education or training activity that does not necessarily lead to a formal qualification, such as on-the-job training, open or distance education, courses or private lessons, seminars or workshops.

  • Informal learning: learning that results from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. It may be unintentional from the learner’s perspective.

Adult learning is therefore “life-wide”, occurring in the following diverse contexts:

  • Education and training institutions: traditional providers of formal education, such as schools, colleges or universities, or specialised adult or continuing education and training centres. They may be public or private institutions (Table 3.2).

  • Workplaces: typically as informal learning or non-formal education and training. It can also include the work-based learning component of formal education.

  • Community: typically as informal learning or non-formal education and training through participation in civic and cultural activities, social networks, sports, volunteering activities, etc.

  • Homes: typically as informal learning through interactions with family members, reading books, Internet use, watching television, listening to the radio, etc. It may also involve formal or non-formal education and training via online or correspondence courses.

This chapter mainly focuses on non-formal and formal education and training in institutions and workplaces, as well as recognition of non-formal and informal learning. This is because policy makers have the most data and direct influence on these aspects of adult learning. Furthermore, informal learning is typically job related and strongly associated with high performance work practices (HPWP) in firms, which encourage informal learning and increase its returns (Fialho, Quintini and Vandeweyer, 2019[9]). Chapter 4 of this report makes recommendations to expand HPWP in Poland.

Source: OECD (2019[10]), OECD Skills Strategy 2019: Skills to Shape a Better Future, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264313835-en; OECD (2015[11]), Skills for Social Progress: The Power of Social and Emotional Skills, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264226159-en.

copy the linklink copied!Overview and performance of Poland’s adult learning system

Overview of Poland’s adult learning system

As in other OECD countries, responsibility for adult learning in Poland is fragmented across ministries and different levels of government. The Ministry of National Education (MEN), the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy (MRPiPS); the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology; the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW); and the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MC) have primary responsibility at the national level. Regions (voivodeships, also known as województwo) and counties (powiat) have responsibility for educational facilities (Table 3.1).

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Table 3.1. Polish ministries and subnational authorities responsible for adult learning

Body

Responsibilities

Central authorities

Ministry of National Education

Non-tertiary schools and the system of vocational and general courses for adults. Has the main responsibility for general education and initial vocational education and training (VET) through organising providers, timetables, assessment, validation, online learning, guidance and stakeholder and European engagement in adult learning. Co-ordinates the Integrated Qualifications System, which aims to integrate the qualifications awarded in various subsystems, including VET, higher education and non-formal (market) qualifications.

The Ministry of Science and Higher Education

Provides tertiary education for adults. Sets basic conditions for higher education institutions to provide non-degree postgraduate programmes, specialised training (level 5 of the Polish Qualifications framework) professional higher education (HE), and other forms of training for adult learners.

Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy

Developing adults’ skills for the labour market. Responsible for policies related to continuing education for unemployed adults and some categories of jobseekers. Manages the National Training Fund (Krajowy Fundusz Skoleniowy, KFS), which supports the lifelong learning of employers and employees by providing funding for skills training. Is involved in career guidance. 

Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology

Skills for entrepreneurship, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and sectoral skills councils. The ministry presides over the School for Innovators (Szkoła dla innowatora) pilot programme in conjunction with the Ministry of National Education.

Ministry of Digital Affairs

Digital skills of adults. The ministry’s Open Data and Competence Development department oversees a digital skills development ecosystem for citizens concerning the use of technology, as well as running the Open Data website https://dane.gov.pl.

Other ministries

Responsible for the inclusion of Integrated Qualifications System (Zintegrowany System Kwalifikacji, ZSK) qualifications within their domains. Involved in other sectoral non-formal education.

Regional authorities (voivodeship/województwo)

Voivodeship marshall office (Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa)

Responsible for public education, including higher education. Tasks include establishing and administering public in-service teacher training centres, libraries, and networks of schools and institutions at regional and supra-regional levels.

Regional authorities also lead voivodeship labour offices.

Voivode (wojewoda) - Regional representative of central government in a voivodeship 

Appoints heads of regional education authorities (kurator oświaty) who exercise pedagogical supervision over education providers.

District (county) authorities (powiat)

Responsible for establishing, administering and financing public post-primary schools and continuing education centres, practical training centres, and further in-service training centres. They also run powiat labour offices, delivering services to the unemployed, some categories of jobseekers and employers. They are also engaged with MRPiPS in the distribution of funding from the KFS.

Municipal (commune) authorities (gmina)

Responsible for establishing, administering and financing public primary schools (and lower secondary schools until they are phased out). 

Source: Eurydice (2019[12]), Distribution of Responsibilities, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/distribution-responsibilities-53_en; MC (2019[13]), Ministry of Digital Affairs Portal, www.gov.pl/web/cyfryzacja; MPiT (2019[14]), Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology Portal, www.gov.pl/web/przedsiebiorczosc-technologia.

Social partners in Poland also have an important role in adult learning. Chambers of commerce can promote, provide or potentially subsidise education and training for their members. Trade unions can also promote and provide learning to their members. Together, social partners negotiate rights to education and training in Poland’s collective agreements, and discuss the qualifications to include in the Integrated Qualifications System, among other things. Social partners, government and other actors can co-ordinate on the development of adult learning in Poland through the Program Council on Competences and sectoral skills councils (see Chapter 5).

As in other OECD countries, adult education and training in Poland is provided by a diverse range of public and private institutions (main providers are listed in Table 3.2). According to Poland’s Human Capital Survey (Bilans Kapitału Ludzkiego, BKL), there were nearly 16 000 providers of adult education and training in Poland in 2014 (Szczucka, Turek and Worek, 2014[15]). These include education and training institutions, and organisations for whom education and training is not their primary activity. These providers are predominately non-public or private (nearly 90%) and micro- or small-sized (80%). About 20% operate in the Mazowieckie region that includes Warsaw, with the remainder spread across the country.

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Table 3.2. Main types of providers of adult education and training in Poland (2019)

Main providers

Programmes and target groups

Number of providers

Number of participants

Primary schools for adults

Primary school programme for low-educated learners aged 18+.

117

(2018/19)

5 712

Lower secondary school for adults (in the process of being phased out)

For primary school graduates aged 18+.

55

(2018/19)

1 713

Upper secondary schools for adults

For lower secondary school graduates aged 18+. Pathway to post-secondary/tertiary education.

1 299

(2018/19)

131 510

Post-secondary schools for adults

For upper secondary school graduates aged 18+.

Mainly non-public providers.

1 634

(2018/19)

195 659

Public institutions providing continuing education for adults

Continuing education centres (CEC)

Vocational qualification courses, vocational skills courses and general competence courses for adults who are out of school.

For teachers and lecturers employed in adult education.

218

(2018/19)

22 658

Practical training centres (PTC)

Vocational qualification courses and vocational skills courses for adults who are unemployed and registered as a jobseeker with the labour office.

173

(2018/19)

35 815

Further and in-service training centres (FITC)

Vocational qualification courses, vocational skills courses and general competence courses for adults who want to gain additional knowledge, skills and qualifications.

369

(2018/19)

73 987

Vocational and continuing education centres (VCEC)

Combined centres of CECs, PTCs and FITCs offering all of their services to adults who want to gain additional knowledge, skills and qualifications.

85

(2018/19)

8 811

Training institutions

Non-public continuing education and practical training centres

For adults intending to extend their qualifications.

2 054

(2018/19)

805 455

Institutions providing training for the unemployed and jobseekers, registered in a Register of Training Institutions*

For those unemployed and jobseekers registered with public employment services (PES), aged 18+ (before reaching the retirement age).

12 124

(September 2019)

NA

Institutions providing training, registered in a Database of Development Services1

For adults intending to extend their qualifications.

4 469 (September 2019)

NA

Higher education

Higher education institutions (HEIs) offering non-degree postgraduate programmes

For higher education graduates.

396

(2017/18)

159 475

(2017/18)

Third age universities

May be non-governmental organisation (NGO) or local government third age universities or third age universities within higher education institutions.

640

(2018)

1. Provider may be a CEC, PTC, HEI, private company, NGO, etc., so numbers may overlap with other categories.

Note: This table does not include all providers. The listed providers have the status of an education system institution or register training services in employment and entrepreneurship support systems (the Register of Training Institutions and the Database of Development Services). The table excludes providers from smaller registers, providers that do not register training services as their main activity, and some providers that register training as a business activity. Some providers may be double counted in different registers.

Source: Eurydice (2019[16]), Main providers, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/main-providers-53_en; MEN (2019[17]), Educational Information System, https://sio.men.gov.pl/; GUS (2018[18]), Adult Education 2016, https://stat.gov.pl/download/gfx/portalinformacyjny/pl/defaultaktualnosci/5488/3/3/1/ksztalcenie_doroslych_2016.pdf; GUS (2018[19]), Education in the 2017/18 school year, https://stat.gov.pl/download/gfx/portalinformacyjny/pl/defaultaktualnosci/5488/1/13/1/oswiata_i_wychowanie_w_roku_szkolnym_2017_18.pdf; GUS (2017[20]), Education in the 2016/2017 school year, https://stat.gov.pl/files/gfx/portalinformacyjny/pl/defaultaktualnosci/5488/1/12/1/oswiata_i_wychowanie_w_roku_szkolnym_2016-2017.pdf.

Poland’s performance

Despite the growing importance for Poland of developing the skills of its adults (Figure 3.1, Figure 3.2), international surveys show that participation in adult learning is relatively low (Figure 3.3). According to the Adult Education Survey (AES) 2016, for example, only 25.5% of adults in Poland participated in formal and/or non-formal education during the 12 months before the survey, which is well below the EU average (45.1%) (Eurostat, 2019[21]). Participation is also well below the EU average according to the 2018 Labour Force Survey (LFS) (Eurostat, 2019[22]). Poland’s participation shortfalls are most pronounced for non-formal education and training and informal learning. For example, adult participation in informal learning is lower in Poland than in every other EU country except Lithuania (Eurostat, 2019[21]).

Poland’s own national survey (BKL) uses different terminology and records higher rates of participation than the EU surveys on non-formal education and training and informal learning. When asking adults about participation in non-formal education and informal learning, the BKL avoids using certain terms that may cause confusion in Poland.1 According to the BKL, in 2017 adult participation in formal and non-formal education and training was over 20% in the four weeks before the survey (4% in the LFS), and 56% in the 12 months before the survey (25.5% in the AES 2016). Opportunities for improving skills and learning information in Poland, including through improved surveys, are discussed in Chapter 5.

International surveys conducted in Poland show that the duration and intensity of adult education and training is high. Polish adults who do participate in formal and non-formal education and training spend an average of 145 hours in training, compared to 118 hours on average across the EU. On the one hand, this can be a positive signal of the depth of learning that is occurring. Indeed, reported satisfaction with and objective measures of the employment benefits of this training are relatively high in Poland (see Opportunity 1: Raising awareness of adult learning). On the other hand, the long duration and high intensity of education and training may signal a lack of flexible or short-duration courses (see Opportunity 2: Making learning more flexible and accessible for adults).

According to the Adult Education Survey (Eurostat, 2019[23]), a relatively high share of adult education and training in Poland is non-formal and job related (Figure 3.4).

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Figure 3.3. Adult participation in education and training in Poland
Figure 3.3. Adult participation in education and training in Poland

Note: PIAAC = OECD Survey of Adult Skills; AES = Adult Education Survey; LFS = Labour Force Survey; CVTS = Continuing Vocational Education Survey.

Source: OECD, (2016[24]), Education at a Glance, Table C6.2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933398735; Eurostat (2019[21]), Adult Education Survey 2016 (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database; Eurostat (2019[22]), European Union Labour Force Survey 2018: Adult learning (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database; Eurostat (2019[25]), Continuing Vocational Education Survey 2015 (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036348

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Figure 3.4. Adult participation in different types of learning, 2016
Figure 3.4. Adult participation in different types of learning, 2016

Source: Eurostat (2019[26]), Adult Education Survey 2016, Panel A: Participation rate in education and training by sex; Panel B: Distribution of non-formal education and training activities by type and sex, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036367

Some groups of adults and enterprises are very disengaged from learning. As in other EU countries, Polish adults with low educational attainment, older adults and those in rural areas have the lowest participation in formal and/or non-formal adult education and training (Eurostat, 2019[27]). Among firms, participation in training in large-sized enterprises is higher in Poland than the EU average, whereas participation in training in small- and medium-sized enterprises is well below the EU averages (Figure 3.5). Training participation by economic sector follows the pattern across the EU, although Poland’s participation is consistently below the EU average with one exception: Wholesale and retail trade; transport; accommodation and food service activities.

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Figure 3.5. Participation gaps in enterprises, Poland and EU
Hours spent in continuous vocational training courses per person employed in all enterprises, 10+ employees (2015)
Figure 3.5. Participation gaps in enterprises, Poland and EU

Source: Eurostat (2019[28]), The Continuing Vocational Training Survey 2015, Hours spent in CVT courses by NACE Rev. 2 activity - hours per person employed in all enterprises; Hours spent in CVT courses by size class - hours per person employed in all enterprises, http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=trng_cvt_23n2&lang=en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036386

In Poland, as in other OECD countries, motivation to learn is arguably the most important determinant of observed participation in adult education and training. Motivating adults to learn is a major challenge to raising participation in Poland. About 61% of Polish adults report that they do not participate and do not want to participate in formal and/or non-formal adult education or training (Figure 3.6).

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Figure 3.6. Willingness to participate in formal and/or non-formal education, 2016
Figure 3.6. Willingness to participate in formal and/or non-formal education, 2016

Source: Eurostat (2019[29]), Adult Education Survey 2016, Distribution of the will to participate, or participate more, in education and training, https://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=trng_aes_175&lang=en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036405

Adults in Poland most commonly report no need for education and training, time and cost as obstacles to participating in education and training (Figure 3.7). Almost 80% of Polish adults who do not participate cite no need for education and training as an obstacle. Time – “family responsibilities” and “schedule” – is the next most common obstacle, followed by the cost of education and training (although this is less common than the EU28 overall). Of particular concern is the fact that adults in low-skilled occupations in Poland, such as craft and related trades and elementary professions, are the most likely to report no need for further training (Kocór et al., 2015[30]). Similarly for enterprises, many Polish firms see no need to offer training. About 55% of Polish enterprises do not offer training to employees. These enterprises cite the sufficiency of both “workers’ existing skills” and “recruitment” as the main reasons for not offering training, more so than time constraints or the cost or irrelevance of available training (Eurostat, 2015[31]).

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Figure 3.7. Obstacles to adult participation in formal or non-formal education and training, 2016
Percentage of non-participating adults who reported the obstacle
Figure 3.7. Obstacles to adult participation in formal or non-formal education and training, 2016

Source: Eurostat (2019[32]), Adult Education Survey 2016, Obstacles to participation in education and training by sex, http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=trng_aes_176&lang=en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036424

The available data suggest that Poland is currently not facing major problems with the quantity (supply), quality or relevance of adult learning opportunities. Very few adults cite a lack of “suitable” learning opportunities (6%) or distance (3%) as obstacles, much less than the EU average. The benefits of participating in adult learning are high in Poland, with the estimated wage returns to adults participating in job-related non-formal education and training (15%) and informal learning (8%) larger than in almost all other OECD countries (Fialho, Quintini and Vandeweyer, 2019[9]). According to various international surveys, adult learners in Poland report above-average benefits in terms of the usefulness of acquired training, use of acquired skills and impact on employment outcomes (OECD, 2019[33]). Polish enterprises also report various benefits to investing in training. In Poland’s 2017 and 2018 BKL surveys, about three-quarters of Polish enterprises stated that training they had sponsored had medium or large impacts on staff creativity, innovation, co-operation between employees, reducing turnover and/or increasing the company's prestige (PARP, 2018[34]).

Motivating adults to learn starts in the early years, and Poland is making progress in this area. The quality of teaching and the curriculum, as well as the engagement of students with different skill and motivation levels, influence attitudes to learning. A positive learning experience during childhood fosters a positive attitude towards learning and increases the probability of seeking out and taking up learning opportunities in adulthood (OECD, 2019[10]). This is particularly relevant for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those with low socio-economic family status, immigrant backgrounds and parents with low education levels. According to PISA 2015, for example, between 2006 and 2015 students’ enjoyment of learning science increased by a greater amount in Poland than in every other PISA country except Ireland (OECD, 2016[35]). Since 2012, the Polish Qualifications Framework (Polska Rama Kwalifikacji) has included a separate pillar for learning skills applicable to all stages of formal education, which could help foster positive learning attitudes (MEN, 2019[36]).

Beyond the early years, however, there are also steps that governments, social partners and other stakeholders can take to motivate adults and enterprises to engage in learning. Awareness raising is essential to change attitudes and behaviour (see Opportunity 1: Raising awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities). Policies are needed to reduce time-related obstacles to adults participating in learning (see Opportunity 2: Making learning more flexible and accessible for adults). Effective funding arrangements are also critical to overcome financial barriers to learning, especially for certain groups of adults and enterprises (see Opportunity 3: Better sharing and targeting financing to increase participation).

copy the linklink copied!Opportunities to raise adult learning participation in Poland

According to available data and the views of Polish participants in this project, a range of factors likely contribute to low participation in and motivation for adult learning in Poland. Individuals and enterprises may not be convinced of the importance and benefits of adult education and training. Even if they are disposed to engage in education and training, the time and funds required for education and training may be an obstacle for them. To this end, Poland has opportunities to raise adult learning participation by:

  1. 1. Raising awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities.

  2. 2. Making learning more flexible and accessible for adults.

  3. 3. Better sharing and targeting financing to increase participation in adult learning.

Opportunity 1: Raising awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities

The motivation of adults and employers to engage in learning is strongly linked to the benefits they perceive. Adults can have both intrinsic motives to engage in learning (e.g. learning for its own sake or socialising) and extrinsic motives (e.g. economic benefits, obliged by law or employer, professional, personal). Employers may be motivated by the need to address skills shortages; retain talented workers; improve productivity, creativity, innovation and profitability; or meet legislative requirements.

Individuals’ and employers’ perceptions of the potential benefits of engaging in adult education and training depend on many factors. These include their perceptions about their learning needs and future skills needs, as well as the availability, quality, relevance and cost of training. Policy makers have an important role in monitoring and assuring the quality and relevance of adult learning (see Opportunities 2 to 4). In addition, public authorities, social partners, learning providers and career guides must actively raise awareness of the importance and value of learning.

Poland’s Integrated Skills Strategy (ZSU) identified the insufficient creation of active learning attitudes and learning skills to be a challenge (MEN, 2019[37]), and highlights the importance of policy responses to help cultivate such learning attitudes. Various policies can be effective in raising the motivation of adults to participate in adult learning. These include raising awareness about the benefits of adult learning, engaging social partners to promote learning, and providing targeted guidance to adults about learning opportunities (European Commission, 2015[38]).

Raising general awareness of adult learning through strategies, campaigns and online portals

A number of measures are in place in Poland that help to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of adult learning, as well as available learning opportunities (Table 3.3).

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Table 3.3. Measures helping to promote adult learning in Poland

Description

Strategies

Integrated Skills Strategy 2030 (General Part) (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejetnosc, ZSU) (2019)

The ZSU seeks to ensure that Poland develops skills relevant to the needs of learners, society and the economy, and better co-ordinates the stakeholders involved in skills development.

Lifelong Learning Perspective (2013)

Seeks well-prepared adult learners in Poland who develop and expand their skills in response to challenges they may face in their professional, social and personal lives.

Human Capital Development Strategy (2013)

Seeks to ensure Poland develops human capital and utilises people's potential to participate fully in social, political and economic life over the life course. Raising competences and qualifications of citizens is one of the key goals, in particular in terms of lifelong and life-wide learning.

Awareness campaigns and awards

Edurośli

A campaign from 15 September to 15 October 2019 to raise awareness about the importance of lifelong learning and its benefits. It will involve conferences, seminars, workshops, open days and meetings, educational picnics, outdoor training, shows, competitions and webinars.

Online portals of learning opportunities

Database of Development Services (Box 3.2)

https://uslugirozwojowe.parp.gov.pl/

Information on education and training offers (including vocational courses, counselling, postgraduate studies, mentoring or coaching). Helps individuals and employers to find courses suited to their needs and make informed adult learning decisions.

Integrated Qualifications Register (Zintegrowany Rejestr Kwalifikacji)

www.kwalifikacje.gov.pl

Portal that collects information about qualifications included in the Integrated Qualifications System. The qualifications can be from general education and initial VET, higher education, and regulated and market qualifications. The users can find information on institutions awarding qualifications, intended learning outcomes or validation criteria.

Register of Training Institutions (Rejestr Instytucji Szkoleniowych)

Register of the institutions that can apply for public funding for training for those unemployed and jobseekers. Register is organised by voivodeship labour offices.

Navoica education platform

https://navoica.pl/

A platform of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that advertises free online courses offered by Polish universities and institutions. Created by a consortium of institutions with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

Source: PARP (2018[39]), Database of the Development Services, https://uslugirozwojowe.parp.gov.pl/; MEN (2019[40]), Integrated Qualification Register, www.kwalifikacje.gov.pl; Voivodeship Labour Offices (2019[41]), Register of Training Institutions, http://stor.praca.gov.pl/portal/#/ris.

Various national strategies since 2013 have promoted the importance of adult learning for Poland, but with mixed results. Individuals consulted in this project stated that stakeholder interest and engagement in the Lifelong Learning Perspective (2013) was short-lived. More recently, the government has consulted with a wide range of ministries and stakeholders to develop the ZSU (General Part). Over 90 stakeholders commented on the draft version. However, some individuals consulted in this project stated that there remains a lack of awareness about the ZSU, particularly in regional and rural areas (see Chapter 5).

Greater awareness about the concept of life-wide adult learning is needed in Poland. The country lacks widely understood terminology for adult learning that distinguishes it from adults’ past experiences in formal initial education. Some participants in this project stated that the current terminology in Poland – Lifelong learning (uczenie się przez całe życie), adult education (AE) (edukacja dorosłych), adult education and training (AET) (kształcenie i szkolenie dorosłych) and continuing education (CE) (kształcenie ustawiczne) – is neither sufficiently comprehensive nor widely understood by adults. In particular, Poland is seeking to improve awareness of the potential of non-formal education and informal learning, for example by collecting better data on adult learning through the BKL.

Poland has made limited use of awareness campaigns. These may promote the benefits of adult learning, advertise specific programmes for adult learning or reach out to under-represented groups (OECD, 2019[42]). Research based on in depth case studies suggests that raising awareness of the benefits of adult learning can increase participation, and increase earnings for workers (European Commission, 2015[38]). Public awareness raising campaigns come in many forms in other OECD countries (Table 3.4). Poland is planning a nationwide campaign called Edurośli (www.edurosli.pl) to raise awareness about the importance of lifelong learning and its benefits. The campaign is planned to take place from 15 September to 15 October 2019 and will include conferences, seminars, workshops, open days and meetings, educational picnics and happenings, outdoor training, shows, competitions and webinars. It acknowledges the importance of dialogue and collective effort for improving lifelong learning in Poland and brings together different stakeholders, including government ministries and agencies, employers and employer associations, training providers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), subnational governments, artistic schools, sports clubs, museums, libraries, community centres and local activists.

Social partners do not seem to be highly involved in awareness raising activities. Vocational and continuing education centres appear to be the only career guidance providers collaborating with employers and their associations (Eurydice, 2019[43]). One notable exception is the Malopolska lifelong learning partnership (see Box 5.5. in Chapter 5). In some OECD countries social partners have an important role in promoting adult learning. For example, the Learning Regions – Promotion of Networks programme in Germany is comprised of regional networks designed to build linkages between employers, formal and non-formal education and training providers. Evaluations of the programme showed that the networks and engagement of social partners has led to increased participation in learning, especially among socially disadvantaged groups (European Commission, 2015[38]).

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Table 3.4. Public awareness raising campaigns and their focus in selected OECD countries

Focus

Name

General adult learning

Specific programmes

Specific target groups

Basic skills

High-demand skills

Firms

Estonia

x

x

x

X

Jälle kooli (Back to school again)

Germany

x

x

X

x

Zukunftsstarter (Future starter)

Nur Mut (Courage)

Hungary

x

Szakmák Éjszakája (Night of Vocations)

Ireland

x

x

X

x

Take the first step

Korea

x

x

x

Vocational Skill Month

Portugal

x

x

X

Qualifica

Slovenia

x

x

x

X

Lifelong Learning Week

Switzerland

x

x

x

Simplement mieux (simply better)

Source: OECD (2019[42]), Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264311756-en.

There are a number of different channels through which adults can access information on available learning opportunities. In Poland, as in many other EU countries, most individuals look for information through the Internet. Since online information requires digital skills and Internet access, it mainly benefits high-skilled adults and needs to be complemented with other information channels for low-skilled adults. A relatively high share of Polish adults seek information from education and training institutions, but relatively few seek information from their employers (Figure 3.8).

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Figure 3.8. Where adults look for information on learning possibilities, 2011
Figure 3.8. Where adults look for information on learning possibilities, 2011

Source: Eurostat (2019[44]), Adult Education Survey 2011, Distribution of sources to look for information on learning possibilities, http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=trng_aes_187&lang=en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036443

Despite these varied information sources, relatively few Polish adults (5%) with low motivation to participate in education and training receive information on adult learning opportunities, compared to 50% of adults with motivation to participate (Figure 3.9). This suggests that more needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of these channels and to tailor them specifically to adults lacking motivation to participate. Additional public awareness examples that Poland could consider are featured in Table 3.4.

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Figure 3.9. Information about adult learning reaching adults, by motivation level
Figure 3.9. Information about adult learning reaching adults, by motivation level

Note: “Motivated” are respondents who participated in education or training but wanted to participate more. “Unmotivated” are respondents who did not participate and did not want to participate.

Source: OECD calculations based on Eurostat (2019[23]), Adult Education Survey 2016 (database) https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036462

The Database of Development Services (BUR) has recently become Poland’s main online portal on adult learning opportunities (Box 3.2). It is growing in its coverage and provides complementary information on, for example, available funding and user satisfaction with different training programmes.

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Box 3.2. Relevant Polish example: Database of Development Services

The Database of Development Services (Baza Usług Rozwojowych, BUR) is a nationwide, free online information platform that provides common access to information on education and training offers (including vocational courses, counselling, postgraduate studies, mentoring or coaching). It helps individuals and employers find courses suited to their needs and make informed learning decisions.

The database, administrated by the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP), contains detailed information on available training programmes and their providers, distinguishing between services that can be subsidised by the European Social Fund (ESF) and those funded through private funds. It also provides some information on user (participant and employer) satisfaction of training. Training providers registered in the database are verified by the PARP based on their capacity to provide high-quality educational services. Sectoral skills councils issue recommendations on learning outcomes that should be covered by programmes in the BUR, and some funding is available to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) using such programmes.

Since its launch in 2017, the database has registered over 4 591 education and training providers offering over 314 000 services, among which about 85% can be subsidised from the ESF. It is expected that by the end of 2023 approximately 5 000 entities will be registered and will provide development services via the BUR to ensure the availability and quality of these services for entrepreneurs and employees.

Source: PARP (2019[45]), Database of Development Services, https://uslugirozwojowe.parp.gov.pl/; MIiR (2018[46]), Wytyczne w zakresie realizacji przedsięwzięć z udziałem środków Europejskiego Funduszu Społecznego w obszarze przystosowania przedsiębiorców i pracowników do zmian na lata 2014-2020 [Guidelines for the implementation of European Social Fund supported projects for entrepreneurs’ and employees’ adaptation to change for 2014-2020], www.funduszeeuropejskie.gov.pl/media/49444/Wytyczne_adaptacyjnosc_1012018.pdf.

However, the BUR has some limitations. According to an evaluation study, users find navigation and registration difficult. It also lacks widespread recognition as a commercial tool among education and training providers, and as a source of information for adults. Only limited data are collected on the usage of the portal and user characteristics, which inhibits further tailoring to users’ needs and means that those implementing the BUR lack knowledge about usage patterns and users’ experiences with the tool (PARP, 2017[47]). PARP has made progress implementing the recommendations of the evaluation study, and should continue to do so in order to improve awareness of adult learning.

Raising awareness through these channels is necessary, but may be insufficient for motivating some Polish adults to learn. Even when the information reaches disengaged adults they may be unable and/or unwilling to utilise it effectively. Adults may be overwhelmed by the diversity of adult education and training providers and programmes (Table 3.2), and inhibited from choosing the most relevant option. It is therefore important to complement awareness raising initiatives with career guidance services.

Recommendation for raising general awareness of adult learning

  • Raise general awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities through improved promotion of the Integrated Skills Strategy (ZSU), campaigns and online portals. The government should increase efforts to promote the Integrated Skills Strategy 2030 (ZSU) in regional fora and social partner dialogue, such as labour market councils and conventions. The government, subnational authorities and social partners should implement an ongoing multimedia campaign to raise awareness of adult learning. The campaign should promote the concepts, importance and benefits of lifelong and life-wide learning; available learning programmes and recognition of prior learning opportunities; and career guidance services and funding support (including the National Training Fund [KFS]). It could include a national award scheme that publicises stories of individuals and enterprises successfully engaging in different forms of adult learning. The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) should continue to implement the improvements recommended in recent evaluations of the Database of Development Services (BUR), in order to make the portal more user-friendly and comprehensive (in terms of the programmes included, user satisfaction data, career advice, recognition of prior learning and available public funding).

Raising awareness through targeted guidance and outreach activities

Guidance and counselling are defined as “a range of activities such as information, assessment, orientation and advice to assist learners, trainers and other staff to make choices relating to education and training programmes or employment opportunities.” (Decision No 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council). These activities can include counselling for personal, career development or educational guidance; assessment of skills and mental health; information on learning and labour market opportunities; consultation with peers, relatives or educators; vocational preparation; and referrals to learning or career specialists (Raschauer and Resch, 2016[48]).

A range of organisations provide education and career guidance to adults in Poland. Public employment services at the county level are the major providers of guidance services, but these focus on unemployed adults. Centres for information and career planning at voivodeship labour offices offer services to all adults regardless of their employment status. Adults can also receive guidance from education and training institutions directly, or other non-government sources (Table 3.5).

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Table 3.5. Career guidance and counselling services for adults in Poland

Provider

Target groups/clients

Guidance services

Number of providers

Number of clients

Schools, including schools for adults

Students

Psychological and educational support, counselling and guidance sessions, workshops and training in education and career guidance.

All schools

Obligatory classes for all students, except adults, other services for all

Academic career offices in higher education institutions (see Chapter 2)

University students and graduates

Providing information on the labour market and possibilities of raising professional qualifications; collecting, classifying and sharing job offers, internships and training; keeping a database of university students and graduates interested in finding a job.

About 340 (2015)

NA

Centres of vocational activisation (Ośrodki Aktywizacji Zawodowej)

Soldiers, former soldiers and their families

Career guidance and counselling, support in requalification and apprenticeships. They work under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence.

8 regional + 1 central

NA

Public employment agencies:

County (powiat) labour offices

Registered unemployed and jobseekers

Career advisers provide guidance to individuals or groups on changing qualifications, skills/career self-assessments and learning opportunities, among other things.

341

277 865 +

77 444 in groups

(2017)

Centres for information and career planning at (województwo) voivodeship (regional) labour offices

Unemployed people, jobseekers, school leavers, young people in schools, employers

Choosing or changing a career, career planning, gaining higher qualifications, identifying own competencies and interests, career development planning.

45

NA

Voluntary Labour Corps (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy)

Youth (15-25 years-old), in particular those disadvantaged

Group and individual counselling, workshops, support in entering a labour market.

49 information centres, 99 youth career centres, 106 job clubs

NA

Employment agencies

(Agencje zatrudnienia)

Jobseekers and employees

Employment agency (including part-time jobs), personal counselling, career counselling.

8 599, out of them 1 464 offer career counseling services

NA

Non-governmental organisations and private entities

Unemployed, jobseekers, employees

Various services related to career and personal counselling, often offered by individuals.

NA

Source: Eurydice (2019[43]), Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/guidance-and-counselling-lifelong-learning-approach-50_en; Euroguidance (2018[49]), Guidance System in Poland www.euroguidance.eu/guidance-system-in-poland; MRPiPS, (2010[50]), System poradnictwa zawodowego w Polsce [Vocational counselling system in Poland], http://eurodoradztwo.praca.gov.pl/publikacje/46.pdf; Voivodeship Labour Offices (2019[51]), Register of Employment Agencies, http://stor.praca.gov.pl/portal/#/kraz/wyszukiwarka; Nyms-Gorna and Sobczak, (2018[52]), Akademickie biura karier i ich rola w poradnictwie zawodowym dla studentów [Academic career offices and their role in vocational counselling for students], http://cejsh.icm.edu.pl/cejsh/element/bwmeta1.element.desklight-fdb63bfa-c7de-4b13-8e25-059ead69bc4b/c/zn26_9.pdf.

Despite these varied providers, few Polish adults receive guidance on learning opportunities. The 2011 Adult Education Survey (AES) found that about 11% of Polish adults sought information on learning possibilities from a career guidance provider (including employment service office), which is consistent with the EU average. The number of career advisers available for adults is low: in 2017, there were 2 144 career adviser in the public employment service, equating to one adviser per 564 unemployed people (MRPiPS, 2016[53]). Although this ratio has improved in recent years due to the fall in unemployment exceeding the fall in the number of advisers, participants in this project highlighted the size of the workforce as a constraint to reaching adults. Indeed, the OECD previously recommended expanding career guidance services in active labour market policies (ALMPs) (OECD, 2018[54]).

Tools for assessing adult learning needs can reveal specific benefits of learning, but are not widely utilised in Poland by career guides. Methods to gather information on adults’ needs can include psychological tests, questionnaires and assessments (Euroguidance, 2007[55]). For example, the OECD’s Education and Skills Online assessment tool provides individual level results measuring literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments, among other things. In Poland, psychological measurement tools are only occasionally used by career advisors in some labour offices (Euroguidance, 2018[49]), and Poland’s ZSU identified the country’s limited experience in assessing and addressing adults’ individual learning needs as a challenge (MEN, 2019[37]). Career guides – trained professionals who advise adults on job and learning opportunities – have a critical role to play in highlighting the potential benefits of learning to adults through such tools.

Poland lacks services to raise awareness among enterprises of training opportunities and benefits. According to the Law on Employment Promotion, career guidance services focus on supporting individuals by providing information on employment opportunities, career paths or choosing an occupation. Although the KFS can fund services for identifying an enterprise’s skill needs, the uptake of such services has been low (MRPiPS, 2019[56]). However, PARP runs several projects that aim to support enterprises identify development barriers, create development plans, and diagnose skill or training needs (see Chapter 4).

Apart from guidance services, some programmes seek to reach out to adults to motivate them to learn. Centres of knowledge and education (Lokalne Ośrodki Wiedzy i Edukacji, LOWE) is a pilot project from 2016 that aimed to reach parents and carers with low skills living in disadvantaged areas through their children, and to help these adults develop key competences to improve their prospects in the labour market. The project also aimed to develop methods and tools used by teachers to work with adults. The pilot programme resulted in the educational activation in five provinces of 3 700 adults who had not participated, or had only participated sporadically, in any form of organised learning.

Recommendation for raising awareness through targeted measures

  • Raise awareness through improved targeted guidance and outreach services. The government should systematically monitor the effectiveness of publicly funded career guidance services for adults. It should ensure a sufficient and equitable supply of career advisers for adults across regions, and consider funding private career guidance services. Career guidance providers should more systematically use available skills profiling tools and skills needs information. PARP and social partners should collaborate to expand outreach activities to micro- and small-sized enterprises, particularly in low-value-added sectors. The government should collaborate with schools, welfare offices, libraries and other public institutions to clarify and support their role in outreach to disengaged adults. Finally, these improvements should be made in the context of developing a system of lifelong guidance in Poland (see Chapter 5).

Opportunity 2: Making learning more flexible and accessible for adults

In Poland, as in other OECD countries, many individuals and employers with the motivation to engage in adult learning face time-related barriers. For individuals, responsibilities for children and/or elderly family members on top of their working schedules may leave them with little time for education and training. For enterprises, staff workloads and the time needed to co-ordinate education and training may leave little time for participation. As noted earlier, after “no need for further training” (Opportunity 1), Polish adults identify time – “family responsibilities” and “schedule” – as the next most common obstacle to participating in adult learning (Figure 3.7). Furthermore, about 25% of enterprises that do not provide training report that “high workload and limited/no time available for staff to participate in continuous vocational training (CVT)” are an obstacle (Eurostat, 2015[31]). In both cases, though, time-related barriers are less common than for the EU overall.

Countries can reduce time-related barriers to education and training in various ways. For individuals, embedding learning into the workplace (including basic skills training for the low skilled) and making programmes more flexible in terms of delivery (part time, online) and design (modular, credit-based courses) can reduce time-related barriers. Recognising adults’ prior learning can shorten the duration of learning programmes for adults who already possess relevant skills (Kis and Windisch, 2018[57]). While aged and childcare services can give adult carers more time for education and training, many participants in this project questioned the desirability and feasibility of reducing adults’ “family responsibilities”, given the importance afforded to these responsibilities in Polish culture. Participants also stated that policies like training leave (which already exist in Polish legislation) are unfeasible for most Polish enterprises as they are small and have limited resources. For employers, flexibility and external support to identify and implement relevant training can reduce time-related barriers. It is essential that policies for reducing such obstacles are targeted at the adults and enterprises that engage the least in learning – such as low-skilled and older adults and those in rural areas, as well as SMEs.

Expanding adult learning in Polish workplaces

Work-based learning is highly accessible for employed adults, who do not need to add time to their working day to participate. There are also many reasons why providing work-based learning makes sense for employers, including higher productivity and profits. However, a range of market failures and barriers (e.g. information failures, liquidity constraints and the risk of poaching) mean that employers’ actual investments in education and training by may be suboptimal (OECD, 2017[58]). The barriers are likely to be larger for SMEs, which have less capacity to absorb the time and costs of training, and who may not want to risk training employees in transferable skills to then have them “poached” by other employers. Public financial support is likely to be needed to help reduce such barriers to work-based training (Opportunity 3).

Poland is not taking full advantage of work-based non-formal or informal learning as a means to minimise time-related barriers. Although the intensity of adult education and training in Poland is relatively high overall, workplace training rates and intensity are relatively low (Eurostat, 2015[31]). According to PIAAC 2012, about 60% of workers in Poland participated in job-related informal learning in 2012, below the OECD average (about 70%). According to a 2015 survey of enterprises, about 37% of workers in Poland (in enterprises with 10+ employees) participated in vocational training provided by their employer, slightly below the EU average (41%). The intensity of workplace training (21 hours per participant) in Poland is also lower than the EU average (25 hours per participant) and the intensity of other types of training in Poland. The country directs less public funding to enterprise training than the OECD average: only 0.17% of enterprises that provide training in Poland reported benefiting from government subsidies and/or tax incentives to provide training, compared to 8.7% across the OECD on average (Eurostat, 2015[31]). Public funding has increased with the introduction of the KFS in 2015 (Box 3.6), but there are challenges to firms effectively utilising these funds (Opportunity 3).

In particular, Poland is not utilising the work-based provision of basic skills training to reach low-skilled adults. International evidence suggests that integrating basic skills training into the workplace is a relatively effective way to reach low-skilled adults (Windisch, 2015[59]). If the course is run in worktime and paid it can reach those who are not normally involved in continuing education and training (Benseman, 2012[60]; Hollenbeck and Timmeney, 2009[61]; Vorhaus et al., 2011[62]). For employees who participate on a voluntarily basis and have the opportunity to use their (improved) skills in the workplace (Wolf, Evans and Bynner, 2009[63]), basic skills training can lead to improved literacy, numeracy and confidence (Benseman, 2012[60]); enhanced job performance (Bates and Holton, 2004[64]); job retention (Campbell, 2003[65]); and promotions (Askov, 2000[66]). For employers, workplace basic skills provision can lead to reduced error rates, better safety records, increased employee retention and morale, and an improvement of the lifelong learning culture in the workplace (Benseman, 2012[60]; Conference Board, 2006[67]).

However, Poland’s basic skills programmes are largely classroom based within educational institutions, offered as part of formal or non-formal education. In 2016, schools and other training institutions in Poland offered 507 general competence courses, including foreign languages, information and communication technology (ICT), entrepreneurship, and other courses (Eurydice, 2019[68]). Poland’s “Digital Poland of Equal Opportunities” training programme has sought to increase digital literacy skills among adults aged 50 and over. To date, however, trainers and employers have not collaborated to embed such training into workplaces, including into existing on-the-job training. The OECD recently concluded that reaching out to employers, in particular Poland’s SMEs, to involve them in planning vocational education and adult training and providing work placements would create more learning opportunities in line with labour market needs (OECD, 2018[54]).

Poland’s new project, Chance – New Opportunities for Adults, provides an opportunity to pilot the workplace provision of basic skills training. The project aims to identify innovative educational ways to support low-skilled adults, and involves the development and testing of ten different support models for at least 1 000 adults with low basic skills. A substantial scope of the project concentrates on identifying new ways of reaching and encouraging adults to raise their skills, and on the development and testing of new ways/methods of education in terms of form, time and place – addressing the individual needs of participants. After completing the path of support provided within the project, the skills, knowledge and competences of participants will be validated. The project will be implemented by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System in co-operation with the Educational Research Institute. It has a budget of approximately PLN 30 million (Polish zlotys, approximately EUR 7.2 million). Trade unions and employer associations will have an important role to play in expanding adult learning for workers, as they have in the United Kingdom and Ireland (Box 3.3).

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Box 3.3. Relevant international examples: Expanding adult learning for workers

United Kingdom - Unionlearn

With the 2001 adoption of the Skills for Life strategy, which sought to strengthen the literacy and numeracy skills of adults in the United Kingdom, the role of the trade union has gradually expanded to be the facilitator of learning in the workplace. The union acts as an advocate of learning and supports both employers and workers to increase the provision of education programmes. According to the House of Commons, about 15-20% of the union agenda is now dedicated to learning. In the United Kingdom, the Department for Business, Information & Skills (DfBIS) funds union-supported training in the workplace, while unions fund the other half.

The main body responsible for this role in the United Kingdom is Unionlearn, established by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in 2006 to initiate union-led learning. Some 40 000 trained volunteers make up the Union Learning Reps (ULRs), who carry out the agenda on the ground. ULRs encourage the demand side of learning by emphasising the value of learning, and assist the supply side by engaging with workplace training centres to increase the relevance of learning that meets the needs of enterprises.

A central component of the programme is the Union Learning Fund, established in 1998, which involves Unionlearn, the TUC’s Learning and Skills Organisation and DfBIS. Although DfBIS does not provide direct funding, it provides direction on the type and level of learning administered by the fund. The fund aims to engage with employers to develop new apprenticeship standards to help the government-wide effort to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, as well as to build union capacity in skills training and to engage the most disadvantaged learners. The fund now supports more than 50 unions in 700 workplaces.

Ireland - Software Skillnet

Technology Ireland is the largest business organisation representing Ireland's tech sector of ICT, digital and software technology companies. The association has over 200 members and its activities include promoting and facilitating collaboration between tech companies, pooling industry knowledge and experience to develop expertise, accelerating the transfer or knowledge and information between members and leading training programmes and initiatives for people working in the Irish technology sector.

In 2006, Technology Ireland established the Software Skillnet, the National Training Network for the Software and Technology sector in Ireland. The Software Skillnet’s mission is to enable companies with tech functions to remain competitive by facilitating active talent development and continuous up-skilling for workers. The initiative is primarily targeted towards those in employment within the technology sector, allowing companies within the Technology Ireland association access to quality skills training for their employees and ensuring that educational programmes continue to align with changing sector needs. These opportunities facilitate the development of both technical skills and core professional skills, and expose participants to practical uses of these skills.

Over the past six years, 3 500 people from 450 companies have participated in programmes run by the Software Skillnet. Courses vary from single and multi-day workshops to two year post graduate diplomas and a MSc programme.

Source: Unionlearn (2018[69]), Introduction to the ULF - Unionlearn, www.unionlearn.org.uk/introduction-ulf; Windisch (2015[59]), Adults with low literacy and numeracy skills: a literature review on policy intervention, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264272415-en; Technology Ireland (2019[70]), Software Skillnet, https://www.softwareskillnet.ie/who-we-are/; Technology Ireland (2019[71]), Technology Ireland, https://www.technology-ireland.ie/.

Recommendation for expanding adult learning in Polish workplaces

  • Collaborate with social partners to expand adult learning, including basic skills programmes, in Polish workplaces. The government, in collaboration with employer associations and trade unions, should raise awareness of opportunities for, and benefits of, non-formal and informal learning in workplaces. As part of the new project, Chance – New Opportunities for Adults, government, social partners and experts should pilot the delivery of publicly funded basic skills programmes (literacy, numeracy, ICT, financial, literacy) in workplaces. These should be targeted to low-skilled occupations and sectors in the first instance, such as craft, related trades and elementary professions. In light of lessons from the pilot, the government and social partners should set targets for allocating part of the National Training Fund (KFS) to adult learning in workplaces (see Opportunity 3: Better sharing and targeting financing to increase participation in adult learning).

Increasing the flexibility of adult education and training

Some participants in this project stated that formal education programmes in Poland are too inflexible for adults. Many countries offer flexible education and training programmes for adults, including on a part-time basis, in the evenings, on weekends, as online distance learning, as MOOCs, via gamification, and in modular and/or credit-based formats (OECD, 2019[42]).

Flexible learning opportunities for adults are limited in post-secondary education. Higher education institutions deliver a relatively high number of courses on a part-time basis, and the percentage of students in part-time programmes is among the highest in the OECD (30%) (OECD.Stat, 2017[72]) despite part-time students having to pay tuition fees. However, modular courses are non-existent in higher education. Modular courses allow adult learners to complete self-contained learning modules on the skills they currently lack, and combine modules from different kinds of subjects and provision to eventually gain a full (formal) qualification (OECD, 2019[42]). There are no plans to introduce these types of courses in Poland. The current supply of formal programmes designed for first-time students may be unattractive for adult learners who need to develop specific skills and who are relatively time-constrained. Expanding flexible learning will likely require stronger incentives for institutions and support for teachers (see Chapter 2).

Trials of modular VET courses in Poland have had mixed success, but new efforts are underway. In the period 2014-2016, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy ran a project to develop modular courses for many occupations. They were considered of good quality, but did not gain popularity because they required a change of teaching paradigm, new teaching methods and teacher training. Poland has since introduced short vocational courses (kwalifikacyjny kurs zawodowy, KKZ, and kurs umiejętności zawodowych, KUZ). KKZ is a course for adults outside of schools that allows them to participate in the same exams for vocational qualifications as graduates of initial VET schools. KUZ is a course that covers part of a vocational programme to supplement adults’ prior learning. The exam success rate for participants of KKZ is significantly higher than for those of regular VET schools (85% vs. 72% in 2018) (Central Examination Board, 2018[73]). Poland could potentially learn from Denmark’s experience implementing flexible vocational training for adults (Box 3.4).

The online delivery of formal education in Poland has been limited, but appears to be growing. About 4% of Polish adults who use the Internet participated in an online course, compared to 7% for the EU (2017) (Eurostat, 2019[4]). However, the share of adults who undertook some training as distance learning was higher in Poland (43.7%) than in all OECD PIAAC countries except Lithuania (2012). The latest data from BKL (2017) show a slight increase in online participation to 6%. A national platform (Navoica education platform) has recently been created to enable higher education institutions to provide free and widely available courses (MOOCs). This involves public co-financing of the design and implementation of one of the two types of e-learning courses: 1) educational courses recommended for students, constituting an additional element of the education process; and 2) courses available to all users. One expected outcome of the platform is the increased involvement of adult learners in higher education. As of August 2019, however, there were only five courses offered on the platform (MNiSW, 2019[74]).

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Box 3.4. Relevant international example: Flexible formal education for adults

Denmark – Labour market training centres

The Danish adult learning system offers a high degree of flexibility. The adult vocational training programmes provided by labour market training centres (Arbejdsmarkedsuddannelse, AMU) are geared to equip low-skilled and skilled workers resident in Denmark who are currently in employment, which emphasises the flexibility of training provision to accommodate working schedules.

AMUs offer learners the freedom to select courses individually from its catalogue of 3 000 adult vocational training programmes, and to combine courses from the 200 single-subject courses in the general education system. Moreover, students can combine courses from non-formal education programmes in independent institutions and across different subjects. As these courses are short term, ranging from half a day to six weeks, with an average of three days, they can easily be combined to meet an individual’s needs.

The flexibility of training courses extends into the learning environment, where training can take place in a traditional classroom, in open workshops, through distance learning or in the workplace. Although many training programmes take place during working hours, weekday evenings and weekends are also available. Once a course is completed, an AMU certificate is issued and can be included in an assessment of prior learning for credit transfer to a mainstream VET programme in the same field. Such a high degree of flexibility in formal education lowers barriers to adult learning.

Source: OECD (2019[42]), Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264311756-en; Ministry of Children and Education (2018[75]), Adult vocational training, www.eng.uvm.dk/adult-education-and-continuing-training/adult-vocational-training.

Recommendation for increasing the flexibility of adult education and training

  • Monitor and support the supply of flexible education programmes for adults. The MEN and the MNiSW should monitor the availability and uptake of flexible (modular, part time, online, etc.) higher education and VET programmes for adults. Building on the lessons learned from this monitoring, the ministries, with social partners, should support the expansion of flexible programmes. They should do this by raising awareness among providers, enterprises and individuals of the opportunities for, and benefits of, flexible delivery. The ministries should consider funding the development of modular programmes in higher education, and associated guidance and building capacity, as well as setting institutional targets for flexible delivery.

Improving recognition of prior learning for adults

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is not yet widespread or standardised in Poland. According to participants in this project, some sectors do have well-developed RPL systems, such as craft chambers and blacksmiths. However, Poland does not yet have a single coherent system for the validation of learning outcomes achieved in non-formal and informal education. Existing procedures are applied in various sectors and related to various practices and validation processes (Eurydice, 2019[76]). Poland’s ZSU identified weak procedures for validating skills acquired outside the education system.

Intensive work has been underway for several years to introduce changes to RPL. This involves changes in the legislation; the development of a system for validation, certification and transfer of learning outcomes and qualifications; and the revision and standardisation of terminology.

The Integrated Qualifications System (Zintegrowany System Kwalifikacji, ZSK) is the underpinning system for RPL in Poland. It includes non-formal market-based qualifications in the Integrated Qualifications Register according to the 8-level Polish Qualifications Framework, which articulates the knowledge, skills and social competences of different levels and types of qualifications. However, enterprises offering tailored internal training may not see any benefits from formally validating workers’ skills. Some enterprises perceive that validating workers’ skills under the ZSK is administratively burdensome and, by virtue of making workers’ skills more transparent, could lead to ‘poaching’ by competitors (Cedefop, 2016[77]). More specific challenges revealed by the piloting of the ZSK include: 1) problematic recording of step-by-step validation; 2) problems with documentation (e.g. lack of habit in collecting documents); 3) difficulties in determining competences through self-assessment; and, 4) mastering the validation-related terminology (IBE, 2015[78]).

Extramural exams for adults in external locations were introduced in initial VET education and are organised by the Central Examination Board. Any adult wishing to complete this education level can enter, and after passing exams receive a formal diploma, equal to those awarded to school graduates. In the school year 2017/18, some 895 adults took part in extramural exams, with a success rate of 87% (Central Examination Board, 2018[73]).

In 2014 a system of RPL was introduced in Polish higher education. All universities were obliged to introduce a mechanism that allowed individuals to recognise their formally or non-formally obtained learning outcomes. Ongoing research on the RPL practices in Poland’s higher education system suggests that those solutions are rarely put into practice. Individuals and institutions are often unaware of their rights and responsibilities for RPL, or otherwise report low benefits or incentives to implementing RPL (Gmaj et al., 2019[79]).

There are several initiatives supporting RPL in the Polish education system. The Educational Research Institute (Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych, IBE) designed two tools that aim to support these processes. The Database of Good Practices in Validation and Quality Assurance (http://walidacja.ibe.edu.pl/dobrepraktyki/) collects international and national examples on the use of non-standard validation practices that support RPL and work-based learning. “My portfolio” (https://mojeportfolio.ibe.edu.pl/) is an online tool that helps individuals collect all of their achievements, both formal (diplomas, qualifications etc.) and informal (e.g. samples of manufacture products), and present them in a form that is clear for employers and education authorities. Both of these tools have the potential to enhance RPL in Poland, but will need to be further developed and better promoted among stakeholders. This could be informed by the experiences of The Netherlands and Portugal in implementing RPL (Box 3.5).

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Box 3.5. Relevant international example: Recognition of prior learning

Netherlands – Recognition of prior learning (Erkenning van Verworven Competenties)

Through its adoption of the Lisbon Strategy to bolster Europe’s competitiveness and to make it a knowledge-based economy, the Netherlands institutionalised RPL and established the Dutch Knowledge Centre for RPL in 2000. Prior to reform in 2016, the RPL (Erkenning van Verworven Competenties, EVC) process would lead to a certificate of experience (Ervaringscertificaat) for formal accreditation, or an experience profile (Ervaringsprofiel).

With the implementation of the 2016 reform, existing EVC was categorised into two tracks: labour market and education. In the labour market track, the certificate of experience that validates knowledge, skills and competences is used towards career mobility or advancement. Individuals apply for an assessment at a private EVC provider. The cost of attaining EVC varies between EUR 1 000 and EUR 1 500, depending on the providers and on the size of the portfolio (for individuals, the costs of EVC assessment can be deducted from income tax). The certificate can be used as a demonstration of an individual’s skills, for job interviews or for a career development plan. In the education track, an individual applies for an assessment with an education institution, which can determine whether to conduct the assessment with or without a private EVC provider. Under the new system, education institutions are responsible for validating learning outcomes to ensure effective learning provision, as the learner could be granted an exemption when qualified.

The diffuse responsibilities throughout validation and certification processes reflect a strong tradition of involving social partners in Dutch society, and emphasise the shared responsibilities in the skills system.

Portugal – Sistema Nacional de Reconhecimento, Validação e Certificação de Competências

Portugal’s prior learning assessment and recognition system is called the Sistema Nacional de Reconhecimento, Validação e Certificação de Competências (RVCC). As a part of the New Opportunities Initiative (Iniciativa Novas Oportunidades, NOI), which launched in 2005, RVCC has led to the recognition of skills for over 500 000 adults. Portugal’s 303 Qualifica Centres have been integral in the recognition process by offering services in RVCC, as well as providing vocational guidance to adults. Qualifica Centres report enrolment information and activities to the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional, ANQEP), which feeds analysis back to the centres for an effective self-evaluation process.

Source: OECD (2017[80]), Getting Skills Right: Good Practice in Adapting to Changing Skill Needs: A Perspective on France, Italy, Spain, South Africa and the United Kingdom, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264277892-en; OECD (2018[81]), Skills Strategy Implementation Guidance for Portugal: Strengthening the Adult-Learning System, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264298705-en; OECD (2019[42]), Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264311756-en; OECD (2017[82]), Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Netherlands, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264287655-en; The Knowledge Centre (2014[83]), Recognition of prior learning (RPL) in the Netherlands, www.nationaal-kenniscentrum-evc.nl/images/English/RPL-in-the-Netherlands.pdf; EMCC (2019[84]), Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/emcc/erm/support-instrument/recognition-of-prior-learning-rpl.

Recommendation for improving the recognition of prior learning for adults

  • Simplify, harmonise and expand the recognition of prior learning practices across the education and training system. The MEN and MNiSW should monitor the quantity of RPL occurring across the education system and sectors. They should accelerate implementation of RPL to enable adults to fast-track qualifications. This should involve raising awareness among responsible institutions about their capacities and duties in relation to RPL, identifying opportunities to simplify RPL procedures, creating stronger incentives for enterprises to participate in RPL, and formalising and standardising RPL processes across sectors and institutions based on best practices.

Opportunity 3: Better sharing and targeting financing to increase participation in adult learning

Individuals and employers face various incentives to invest in adult education and training, but market failures and equity concerns also imply an important role for government financing.

Individuals can accrue direct personal, employment and social benefits from participating in adult learning. Employers benefit when education and training leads to more motivated, adaptable and productive workers. Society as a whole benefits from adult learning when it improves employment and earnings, as this increases tax revenues and lowers public spending on labour market programmes. Society also benefits from adult learning that empowers adults to be healthier and more trusting of others, and active in volunteering and voting (OECD, 2016[5]).

However, despite these widespread benefits, in certain cases adult learning may not occur without targeted government support (OECD, 2017[58]). Financial barriers are acute for those earning low incomes and older workers. Individual employers may lack financial incentives to invest in workers’ general skills as opposed to those specific to their business. Smaller employers in particular may lack the management capacity, time and budget to make substantive investments in training. Targeted public funding is therefore likely to be necessary for disadvantaged groups (such as adults with low incomes), certain types of businesses (such as smaller enterprises) and certain types of training (such as for general skills). However, public budgets for adult education and training are constrained, and within the EU often highly reliant on European Structural and Investment Funds.

These challenges make effective cost sharing and the efficient allocation of public funds essential for Poland as it seeks to raise participation in adult learning. Individuals, employers and government should find ways to share the cost of adult learning, based on who benefits from and has the capacity to pay for different types of adult learning and skills. Public funding for adult learning should increasingly be allocated based on evidence about where it yields the largest benefits and assists the most disadvantaged groups.

There are a number of different financial instruments that can help reduce the cost of adult learning. These can be largely classified into four categories (OECD, 2017[58]): 1) supply-side measures focusing on education and training providers; 2) demand-side measures targeting the individual; 3) demand-side measures targeting employers; 4) comprehensive measures covering both the supply and demand side (Table 3.6).

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Table 3.6. Financial incentives for steering education and training

Supply-side measures

Institutions

Demand-side measures

Individuals

Demand-side measures

Employers

Cross-cutting/ comprehensive measures

  • Subsidies

  • Performance-based

  • funding

  • Performance contracts

  • One-off (capital) funding

  • Regulating start-up of new programmes

  • Tuition fee policy

  • Subsidies

  • Savings and asset building mechanisms

  • Time accounts

  • Tax incentives

  • Loans

  • Study/training leave

  • Subsidies

  • Tax incentives

  • Loans

  • Training levies/funds

  • Job rotation

  • Payback clauses

  • Public procurement

  • Subsidies

  • Sector covenants

  • Grants

Note: Not all measures can be easily classified into these categories. Measures designed to nudge behaviour on the supply side often have repercussions on the demand side, and the other way round.

Source: OECD (2017[58]), Getting Skills Right: Financial Incentives for Steering Education and Training, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264272415-en.

Several ministries are involved in funding adult learning in Poland, drawing on different international and national funds and utilising the various mechanisms described above (Table 3.7). Some of this funding is channelled through counties and municipalities. In addition, many Polish individuals and enterprises are investing in different forms of education and training, although data on private expenditure are limited to irregular international surveys.

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Table 3.7. Major funding sources for adult education in Poland

Funding sources

Details

Funding mechanism

Funding amount (million)

School education part of the general state budget subsidy

Funds for local government units running schools for adults, based on number of unrolled students*

Subsidy to institutions

(supply side)

Subsidies for individuals (demand side)

All subsidy: PLN 45 907*

Labour Fund

Expenditure of county (powiat) labour offices on:

1) training

2) traineeships

3) postgraduate studies

1) PLN 107 (2018)

2) PLN 851 (2018)

3) PLN 6 (2018)

National Training Fund (KFS)

Subsidies for employers (demand side)

PLN 102 (2018)

Apprenticeships for young doctors

Subsidies for individuals (demand side)

PLN 1 429 (2018)

Vocational education and training of young people

Subsidies for employers :

1) subsidising the costs of young people’s education

2) reimbursement of remuneration paid to young employees and social insurance contributions from reimbursed remuneration

PLN 459 (2018)

EU funds and other international assistance programme funds

Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development (Program Operacyjny: Wiedza, Edukacja, Rozwój, PO WER) (ESF)

Subsidies for individuals and employers, loans for individuals (demand side)

EUR 1 591 **

(2014-2020)

Regional operational programmes (RPO) (European Regional Development Fund [ERDF] and to a lesser extent ESF)

Subsidies for individuals, employers (demand side)

EUR 2 399 **

(2014-2020)

Rural Development Programme (PROW) (European Agricultural Rural Development Fund, EARDF)

Subsidies for individuals and employers (demand side)

EUR 58

Programme education (Norway grants)

Subsidies for educational institutions (supply side)

EUR 20 *

Central government budgets

For the training of specific occupational groups (e.g. government officials, medical doctors, teachers, soldiers)

Subsidies for institutions (supply side) and individuals (demand side)

Other public programmes

Various programmes, e.g. ASOS*** programme, National Freedom Institute grants, grants of State Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People, local government programmes

Subsidies for institutions (supply side) and individuals (demand side)

Private funds (including employer funds)

Private spending on training is VAT exempt according to law

Tax incentives (demand side)

Note: * Most of the subsidy is spent on education and training for students, not adults.

** A small share of the funds is spent on education and training for students, not adults.

*** Government’s Programme for Social Activity of the Elderly (Rządowy Program na rzecz Aktywności Społecznej Osób Starszych, ASOS) is a programme from the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy.

Source: Eurydice (2019[85]), Adult Education and Training Funding: Poland, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/adult-education-and-training-funding-56_en; European Commission (2014[86]), Partnership agreement with Poland – 2014-2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/partnership-agreement-poland-2014-20_en.

Better sharing the costs of adult learning

Government, employer and individual expenditure on adult learning is relatively low in Poland, and could be better co-ordinated and shared.

Government expenditure on adult education and training in Poland is relatively low by international standards according to various measures. Relatively few unemployed people are offered training as part of ALMPs (although for those who do receive training, Poland has relatively high expenditure per participant). Few individuals in job-related training (4.8%) (Eurostat, 2019[23]) and few enterprises (0.17%) (OECD, 2019[33]) report receiving public funding. Some public funding is distributed via county and municipal governments, who are responsible for managing primary and post-primary schools for adults, continuing education centres, practical training centres and further and in-service training centres (Eurydice, 2019[85]). Although data on adult learning spending by subnational authorities are not collected by central authorities, individual municipal budget documents suggest that adult learning spending is typically a very small part of the budget and generally targeted to second-chance schooling for adults.

Although data are limited, employer and individual expenditure on adult education and training also appear to be relatively low in Poland. Employer investment in training of employees as a percentage of total investment, and in non-formal training as a percentage of gross value added, are both below the OECD averages (OECD, 2019[33]). About 34% of the Polish enterprises that do not provide training cite cost as a reason, which is above the EU average (28%) (OECD, 2019[33]). According to PIAAC (2012), individuals in Poland are less likely to spend money on non-formal education and training and more likely to find training too expensive than their peers in other OECD countries. However, more recent data from the AES (2016) show that about 16% of adults in Poland cite cost as an obstacle to participating in adult learning, which is below the EU average (29%) (Figure 3.7).

The KFS is Poland’s main measure to raise employer investment in adult learning (Box 3.6).

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Box 3.6. Relevant Polish example: National Training Fund (Krajowy Fundusz Szkoleniowy, KFS)

The KFS is a part (2%) of the Labour Fund, which itself is funded from a levy on employers (2.3% of the basic salary per employee). The planned budget of the KFS for 2019 is about EUR 53 million (PLN 228 million). Any enterprise can apply to the KFS for an 80% refund of training costs, while micro-sized enterprises can apply for 100%, up to a maximum of 300% of Poland’s average monthly salary per employee (equating to about EUR 3 200 [PLN 13 700] per employee in 2018). In 2017, over 18 000 enterprises received KFS funds, half of which were micro-sized enterprises.

The KFS is administered by different actors to achieve a wide range of priorities. The Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy sets priorities for 80% of the KFS budget. In 2019, these priorities included supporting adult learning to fill occupations experiencing skills shortages, and supporting low-educated adults, disadvantaged groups, teachers and trainers in VET, and people older than 45. The Labour Market Council sets priorities for the remaining 20% of the KFS budget. In 2019, these priorities included support for training employees of social integration centres and adults with disabilities, and for using new technologies. Voivodeship labour offices and the ministry itself receive 1% of the KFS for the promotion, evaluation etc. of the KFS. The remaining sum is distributed to enterprises (via powiat labour offices) (80%), and a reserve is at the Labour Market Council’s disposal (20%).

Source: MRPiPS (2019[56]), National Training Fund, http://psz.praca.gov.pl/-/55453-krajowy-fundusz-szkoleniowy.

However, uptake of the KFS has been limited and many applications are unsuccessful. In 2017, 32% (10 000) of KFS applications were unsuccessful, because the funds were exhausted by the other 68% of applications. Although the cap for KFS applications is about EUR 3 200 per employee, in 2017, successful enterprises received only about EUR 3 000 in total on average. A survey in the Dolnośląskie region (Grabowski and Janiszewski, 2016[87]) found that there was low awareness among enterprises of the KFS, and some enterprises reported too much bureaucracy associated with accessing the funds. Other evaluations of the KFS highlighted labour offices’ concerns with the complexity of assessing applications (Szymańska and Ostrogórska, 2015[88]).

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have helped raise total investments in adult learning and encouraged cost sharing between governments, employers and individuals. The state, the European Commission and enterprises co-fund several temporary adult learning programmes. Poland’s Partnership Agreement 2014-2020 allocates EUR 4 billion from various funds within the ESIF – the ESF, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Rural Development Fund (EARDF) – to “Investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning” (European Commission, 2014[86]). The co-financing from the ESF is targeted at employers and employees from micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. National and local governments and enterprises participate in funding. This support can be between 50% and 80% of the course/service costs. The highest co-financing is prioritised for enterprises with a smaller number of employees (up to ten). For larger enterprises to receive the higher level of co-financing, they need to meet other criteria, such as operating in industries with the largest development potential or regional strategic value, providing learning for older or low-skilled adults, or offering courses leading to qualifications from the Integrated Qualification Register (Zintegrowany Rejestr Kwalifikacji) (European Commission, 2014[86]).

However, Poland’s reliance on the ESIF for adult learning has several drawbacks (OECD, 2018[54]). First, EU funding may fall in the future, as the EU reconsiders its priorities in a context of increased demands, from migration to security and defence. Second, as EU structural funds are time limited, gaps can open up in the provision of learning opportunities in between programmes or programming periods, or when policy changes occur and require public authorities to re-apply for EU funds and launch public tenders. The reliance on EU funding involves requirements and builds capacity for Poland to meet the European Commission’s growing expectations of evaluation and accountability in adult learning (see the section below on Better targeting public adult learning and Chapter 5 on evaluation).

Given the number of actors involved in funding adult learning in Poland, and the limited data available on subnational, enterprise and individual spending, effective co-ordination will be highly important. Several OECD countries have designed programmes that seek to address skills challenges in a holistic manner by encouraging collaboration between all stakeholders (OECD, 2017[58]). For example, in Canada, workforce development agreements (WDAs) between central and provincial governments provide provinces and territories CAD 722 million (Canadian dollars) annually for the development and delivery of services that help Canadians receive training and gain work experience. Canadian provinces and territories have the flexibility to respond to the specific employment and skills needs of their region. Funding is also targeted towards persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, youth, older workers and newcomers to Canada. As an example, British Columbia’s Employer Training Grant scheme combines WDA funds with employer contributions to co-fund skills training that aligns with employers’ business needs, responds to automation and technological advancements, and supports unemployed or underemployed citizens (Government of Canada, 2019[89]; Province of British Columbia, 2019[90]).

Norway and Netherlands have implemented comprehensive approaches to sharing the costs of financing adult learning by establishing agreements and pacts between government and stakeholders (Box 3.7).

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Box 3.7. Relevant international example: Sharing the costs of adult learning

Norway – Strategic approach to cost sharing in adult learning

Norway’s shared funding model for adult learning seeks to assign responsibility for funding to the party that is expected to benefit from the education or training. It considers that government and society benefit most from increasing the basic skills of its population, while employers benefit from job-specific training leading to productivity gains, and individuals from training that raises their employability or mobility in the labour market.

For developing basic skills the national Ministry of Education and Research supports basic skills through funding The Basic Competence in Working Life Programme (EUR 16.4 million in 2017) in workplaces. Any employer can apply for funding for projects that meet key criteria defined by the Ministry of Education and Research, such as basic skills training that links to job-related activities and skills taught corresponding to those of lower secondary school level. Courses need to reflect competence goals in the Framework for Basic Skills for Adults and courses be flexible to meet the needs of all participants.

For second-chance school, municipal or county authorities cover the cost of primary and secondary level education for adults. In tertiary education, individuals or their employers pay for continuing education courses in public universities and university colleges that prepare them for the labour market or improve the quality of life. In general non-formal education and training, the government and individuals co-fund non-formal adult learning and education. In job-related non-formal education and training, private enterprises providing further education for their employees, in the form of on-the-job training, cover the full costs. Trade unions also have funds for further and continuing education, for which their members can apply.

Netherlands – Techniekpact (Technology Pact)

Techniekpact (Technology Pact) is a nationally-co-ordinated strategy that involves the central government, regional authorities, the world of education, the organized business community, the trade unions and workers, to ensure technology and technical skills training for children, young adults and adult learners, to deliver technical skills training for the jobs of tomorrow. Techneikpact is funded by more than sixty partners, including national ministries, the education sector, the five regions, industry and employer organisations and labour unions. An investment fund was created in which central government, employers and the regions each contributed EUR 100 million towards public-private education partnerships within the region.

Implementation of the Teckniekpact programme takes place at regional level, allowing regions to adapt more directly to the needs of their labour market and their worker population. Each of the five regions of the Netherlands has their own Technology Pact. The initiative is steered by the National Technology Pact Co-ordinating Group (Landelijke Regiegroep Techniekpact), which co-ordinates, tracks and monitors the implementation of the strategy at regional and sectoral level. The co-ordinating group is composed of representatives from the five regions, central government, employers, workers, the top sectors and the education community.

Source: OECD (2018[81]) Skills Strategy Implementation Guidance for Portugal: Strengthening the Adult-Learning System, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264298705-en; Eurydice (2019[91]) Adult Education and Training Funding: Norway, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/norway/adult-education-and-training-funding_en; Bjerkaker (2016[92]), Adult and Continuing Education in Norway, http://dx.doi.org/10.3278/37/0576w; Techniekpact (2013[93]), Summary: Dutch Technology Pact 2020, www.techniekpact.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Dutch-Technology-Pact-Summary.pdf; EU STEM Coalition (2019[94]), Techniekpact (Technology Pact), www.stemcoalition.eu/programmes/techniekpact-technology-pact.

Recommendations for better sharing the costs of adult learning

  • Improve data on individual, enterprise and government expenditure on adult learning. The government should collate existing data on adult learning expenditure by different ministries, subnational authorities, employers and individuals, and fill gaps in this data through new administrative and survey collections (see also Chapter 5).

  • Better co-ordinate adult learning expenditure, for example through a skills funding pact between governments, employers and individuals. Governments, social partners and representatives of adult learners could develop a high-level “funding agreement” for shared and sustainable funding to reduce cost-related barriers to adult learning participation. The agreement should outline broad parameters for how the government, employers, social partners and individuals will share the costs of different types of adult learning based on who benefits the most, who incurs the costs of the adult learning, and who has capacity to pay. It should also specify the main funding mechanisms (for example, sectoral training funds or government subsidies) and target levels of expenditure for each sector in order to contribute to achieving the priorities of the Integrated Skills Strategy.

  • Increase take up of the National Training Fund (KFS) by raising awareness, simplifying procedures and increasing the total budget of the KFS using public funds. The government should raise awareness of the KFS via career advisors, labour offices, social partners, online portals and other means. The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy should streamline the process for labour offices and enterprises to apply to the KFS. The government should consider increasing the total budget of the KFS by co-contributing public funds to it, thereby ensuring the KFS’ sufficiency for achieving labour market priorities.

Better targeting public adult learning expenditure

The public funding of adult learning is not tied to the performance or outcomes of providers or programmes, and is largely directed to institutions (supply side).

The impacts of the KFS are not systematically or regularly monitored or evaluated, which limits the ability of authorities to target funding to programmes that work best. Available evidence on the impact of the KFS is ad hoc and at the regional level. This evidence suggests that KFS results are mixed. For example, a survey in the Dolnośląskie region (Grabowski and Janiszewski, 2016[87]) found that about 80% of employers had a positive opinion of KFS-supported training. However, the vast majority of learners already had a post-secondary education, and 25% of enterprises reported that the training had no impact on performance. Other evaluations of the KFS at the subnational level identified concerns among some labour offices and employers about the impact and value of training (e.g. for high-skilled adults and for non-formal or “soft-skill” training), although participants were overwhelmingly positive (Grabowski and Janiszewski, 2016[87]).

Evaluation of ESIF funded programmes is more systematic, but focuses on inputs and activities rather than learning outcomes. Several evaluations have been undertaken, including the “Evaluation of support implemented in the area of education under the European Social Fund” and “Evaluation of social innovations under the Knowledge Education Development – 2nd thematic report”. However, two meta-analyses of ESIF evaluations (MR, 2016[95]; 2017[96]) showed that success indicators for these programmes are usually very general (e.g. “ratio of VET school students to general upper secondary” or “ratio of students with very low achievements”), which makes it difficult to show causation. Researchers also point to the fact that the significant majority of analyses were performed regionally, with a very limited number of studies at a national level.

Neither performance monitoring nor performance-based funding are widely used in adult learning, unlike in VET and higher education. Some efforts are underway to link the public financing of adult education and training to outcomes. From 2018, the new financing algorithm for general and post-secondary non-tertiary schools introduces a new method of financing by dividing the current subsidy into two parts: per enrolment (50%) and per exam passed (50%) (MEN, 2018[97]). Performance monitoring and performance-based funding are relatively more developed in Poland’s VET and higher education systems (see Chapter 2), and could potentially be adapted to publicly funded adult learning.

Adult learning funding in Poland is largely directed to institutions (supply-side funding), which may be less effective at incentivising individuals and enterprises. Some participants in workshops stated that directing funding to institutions gives individuals and enterprises less choice of training. The main challenge for raising the participation in and funding of adult learning in Poland appears to be on the demand side. As discussed earlier, a high share of Polish adults state that they have no need for training, and very few adults report supply problems such as a lack of a “suitable offer” or “distance” as obstacles to learning (Figure 3.7).

Demand-side funding to individuals and enterprises can have several benefits, if complemented with effective quality assurance, information and guidance. In Poland, as in other countries, the vast majority of adult education and training providers are private (Table 3.2. ). There is limited public funding available for the training offered by these institutions. Moreover, workers and enterprises wanting to engage in training often have to stop work or production, which adds significantly to the cost of training. In these cases, there is scope to make more use of direct financial incentives (OECD, 2017[58]). OECD countries use a range of demand-side funding measures directed at individuals and enterprises, including subsidies, savings accounts, time accounts and training leave (Table 3.6).

One pilot loan scheme in Poland targeted funding directly at learners. The scheme was popular and over-subscribed (Box 3.8).

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Box 3.8. Relevant Polish example: Loans for Education

“Loans for Education” (2017) targeted adults (working, self-employed and out of work) who wanted to develop their skills and competences. Adults could apply for a loan of up to PLN 100 000 to finance selected postgraduate studies, courses or training (except for first, second and third cycle studies) that lasted no longer than 24 months. Loans were interest-free and could finance the entire cost of training/study. The repayment period was up to three years. Completing the studies or the course was the basis for redeeming 20% of the loan. For people who were unemployed and who during or after the training took up employment, or for those with incomes below the national average, the remission could be subject to 25% of the loan. As part of the first call, which was opened in September 2017, almost 1 700 applications were submitted, and over 1 000 loans were granted. More than half of borrowers (52%) were women, and almost every tenth loan was granted to non-working people who wanted to increase their qualifications.

Source: Agencja Rozwoju Regionalnego w Starachowicach (2019[98]), Invest in development – loans for education, https://inwestujwrozwoj.pl/.

Recommendation for better targeting public adult learning expenditure

  • Increase the impact of public supply-side funding by partially linking it to the performance of programmes and providers. The MEN and the MRPiPS, in collaboration with experts, should systematically measure the outcomes (employment, skills, further learning, completions, etc.) achieved by publicly funded adult learning programmes and providers (see Chapter 5). Subsequently, they should partly link public funding to these outcomes in the form of performance-based funding. Such funding arrangements should be informed by similar initiatives in Poland’s VET and higher education systems.

  • Increase demand for adult learning by targeting a higher share of public funding directly to disengaged individuals and enterprises. The government should allocate a higher share of public funding for adult education and training directly to individuals and enterprises. In the case of individuals, this should be targeted to inactive, unemployed and employed low-skilled adults, including the self-employed. It could start with pilots of subsidies, accounts and/or paid study/training leave. In the case of employers, this should be targeted to micro- and small-sized enterprises. It could be achieved by increasing the budget of the KFS using government co-contributions, or introducing new, additional transfers directly to enterprises. It will be essential that the government ensures the quality of education and training programmes receiving demand-side funding. The government could do this initially by limiting the use of the funds to trusted providers (e.g. registered on the Database of Development Services), and ultimately through effective performance monitoring.

copy the linklink copied!Overview of recommendations

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Opportunity 1: Raising awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities

Raising general awareness of adult learning

  • Raise general awareness of adult learning benefits and opportunities through improved promotion of the Integrated Skills Strategy (ZSU), campaigns and online portals.

Raising awareness through targeted measures

  • Raise awareness through improved targeted guidance and outreach services.

Opportunity 2: Making learning more flexible and accessible for adults

Expanding adult learning in Polish workplaces

  • Collaborate with social partners to expand adult learning, including basic skills programmes, in Polish workplaces.

Increasing the flexibility of adult education and training

  • Monitor and support the supply of flexible education programmes for adults.

Improving recognition of prior learning for adults

  • Simplify, harmonise and expand recognition of prior learning practices across the education and training system.

Opportunity 3: Better sharing and targeting financing to increase participation in adult learning

Better sharing the costs of adult learning

  • Improve data on individual, enterprise and government expenditure on adult learning.

  • Better co-ordinate adult learning expenditure, for example through a skills funding pact between governments, employers and individuals.

  • Increase take up of the National Training Fund (KFS) by raising awareness, simplifying procedures and increasing the total budget of the KFS using public funds.

Better targeting public adult learning expenditure

  • Increase the impact of public supply-side funding by partially linking it to the performance of programmes and providers.

  • Increase demand for adult learning by targeting a higher share of public funding directly to disengaged individuals and enterprises.

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Note

← 1. In international surveys the main word used to describe non-formal education is the same as the word most often used to describe school education ("kształcenie"). Furthermore, the main word used to describe training (“szkolenie”) is clearly associated with the word school (“szkoła”). In an attempt to better measure learning participation, questions about non-formal education and training in the BKL 2017 avoided using these terms, instead focusing on different ways of developing skills.

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