copy the linklink copied!4. Strengthening the use of skills in Polish workplaces

The effective use of skills in workplaces has potential benefits for employers, employees and the society as it can raise productivity, wages and job satisfaction. Policy makers can work with employers to provide direct support or to help create the conditions to increase skills use in workplaces. This chapter explores four opportunities to strengthen the use of skills in Polish workplaces: 1) raising awareness of the relevance of effective skills use and related high-performance workplace practices (HPWP); 2) supporting enterprises and organisations to adopt HPWP; 3) equipping management staff with the right skills to implement HPWP; and 4) engaging employees effectively to implement HPWP.

    

copy the linklink copied!The importance of the effective use of skills for Poland

Skills policies tend to focus primarily on the supply side of skills – the development of skills in education and training and linking these skills with the labour market (see Chapters 2 and 3). Recently there has been a growing awareness that how well employers use skills in the workplace may be just as important as the skills their workers possess. To take full advantage of the initial investment in skills development, and to limit the depreciation and obsolescence of unused skills, countries should strive to use skills as intensively as possible in the economy, workplaces and society (Guest, 2006[1]).

Putting skills to better use in the workplace is important for workers, employers and the broader economy. Studies using data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) (Box 4.1) demonstrate the positive effects of the effective use of skills on performance in both the economy and society (OECD, 2019[2]). Analysis of the use of skills in workplaces can aid understanding of which skills need to be developed, thereby providing relevant input for training and education providers. For Poland, as in most OECD countries, a number of megatrends are reinforcing the importance of the effective use of skills in workplaces to ensure the long-term sustainability of Poland’s economy.

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Box 4.1. Definitions, measurement and scope of skills use

The OECD Skills Strategy framework (OECD, 2019[2]) and its pillar on “using skills effectively” describes skills utilisation in both the labour market (also referred to as “activation”) and in workplaces. This chapter will solely address the latter interpretation of skills use because it is less intensively covered in other studies, and because it is very relevant for the productivity, demographic and innovation challenges in Poland.

The Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) is one of the main sources used to analyse the use of information processing skills in workplaces, including reading, writing, numeracy, information and communication technology (ICT), and problem solving. The approach used in PIAAC follows the job requirements approach (JRA), whereby the survey enquires about the frequency with which tasks relevant to each skill are carried out. For example, the survey measures the frequency (from 1 “never carried out” to 5 “carried out every day”) for ICT-related tasks such as the use of email, spreadsheets and programming languages, which results in a composite variable for the use of ICT skills. To assess the “effectiveness” of skills use, these frequency indicators need to be analysed in combination with actual skill levels. The method has some limitations, including that 1) these measures are developed on self-reported data and could be affected by workers’ skills and perceptions; and 2) the measures are based on task frequency and thereby possibly do not capture the full list and complexity of tasks for skill types (OECD, 2016[3]).

In 2014/2015, Poland conducted a follow-up study of PIAAC (post-PIAAC) to collect longitudinal information and additional background information of participants, as well as to include measures of non-cognitive skills (Palczyńska and Świst, 2016[4]). These data, however, do not present additional measures of the use of skills in workplaces.

Source: OECD (2016[3]), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264258051-en; OECD (2019[2]), OECD Skills Strategy 2019: Skills to Shape a Better Future, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264313835-en; Palczyńska and Świst (2016[4]), Measurement Properties of Non-cognitive scales in the Polish Follow-up Study on PIAAC (POSTPIAAC), https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/c533e448-en.

Using adults’ skills more effectively in the workplace could help to raise Poland’s labour productivity, which is still 40% below the OECD average (OECD, 2019[5]). In the context of an ageing society and continued emigration, population growth will contribute less to Poland’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, and productivity growth will be an increasingly important driver behind economic growth. PIAAC demonstrates that skills use in workplaces has a positive effect on productivity; for instance, the use of reading skills explains a considerable share (26%) of the variation in labour productivity across PIAAC countries, even after controlling for average proficiency scores in literacy (OECD, 2016[6]).

The more effective use of skills in workplaces could make Polish jobs more attractive to highly skilled and highly mobile workers. Poland is strongly affected by immigration – after the 2004 European Union (EU) accession, the emigration of primarily working-age people, often highly educated, intensified considerably, which has hurt various sectors of the Polish economy (OECD, 2016[7]). To retain talent, jobs need to move towards internationally competitive wages and job quality. OECD analysis indicates that workers in Poland who use their skills more intensively at work – beyond having attained these skills – tend to have higher wages (Figure 4.1) and are more satisfied with their job (OECD, 2016[3]). Furthermore, optimising the use of employees’ skills in workplaces could benefit firms in the long term by supporting the transition towards higher-value-added jobs.

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Figure 4.1. Wage returns to skill use and skills proficiency in Poland
Percentage change in wages associated with a standard deviation increase in skills proficiency and skills use
Figure 4.1. Wage returns to skill use and skills proficiency in Poland

Note: Skills proficiency includes literacy for reading and writing at work, numeracy for numeracy at work, and problem solving in technology-rich environments for ICT and problem solving. One standard deviation corresponds to the following: 47 points on the literacy scale; 53 points on the numeracy scale; 44 points on the problem solving in technology-rich environments scale; 1 for reading use at work; 1.2 for writing and numeracy use at work; 1.1 for ICT use at work; and 1.3 for problem solving at work. Estimates are from Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regressions with log wages (converted into USD Purchasing Power parity (PPP), and 1st and 99th percentiles are eliminated) as the dependent variable. Values are statistically significant, the regression sample includes only employees and controls for age, gender, and foreign-born.

Source: Calculations based on OECD (2019[8]), OECD Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC) (2012, 2015), www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036481

Strengthening skills utilisation in workplaces also has the potential to stimulate the adoption of innovations and new technology by firms. Enhanced competition resulting from a globalised and interconnected world creates the need for firms to be internationally competitive, for which innovation and technological change are essential. In recent decades, economic growth in Poland has been stimulated by gains from the better and more efficient reallocation of resources between sectors and firms, and within firms. However, Poland is reaching the end of potential economic growth based on catching up, and it is becoming increasingly important to move towards new drivers of economic growth, with a central role for innovation (World Bank Group, 2017[9]).

Many firms in all OECD countries are still not optimally using the skills of their employees, partly because they are not organising workplaces in a way that supports effective skills use. The main determinants of effective skills use are a variety of organisational and management practices that shape how and why skills are used in the workplace. Practices that are known to positively affect the performance of employees and firms are often referred to as high-performance workplace practices (HPWP) (Box 4.2), and PIAAC demonstrates that there is a strong link between the adoption of HPWPs and the intensive use of skills (Figure 4.2). Examples of HPWPs are work flexibility and autonomy; teamwork and information sharing; training and development; and benefits, career progression and performance management. There are, however, barriers to the extent to which skills use can be enhanced – external factors such as the general economic context, local or regional skills landscapes, and the broader value chain or industrial clusters, may also play a factor in decisions related to skills use (OECD, 2016[6]; OECD/ILO, 2017[10]).

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Box 4.2. Definitions, measurement and scope of high-performance workplace practices

Despite considerable literature on HPWP, there is no consensus on the exact definition (UKCES, 2009[11]; Posthuma et al., 2013[12]). There is no universal list of HPWP that can be applied to any organisation, since their effect can depend heavily on organisational context. Organisations should implement a system of practices that complement and reinforce each other and fit the specific organisation. A number of authors have tried to identify specific practices and different categories of HPWP, for example Posthuma et al. (2013[12]) and Sung and Ashton (2006[13]), and a definition of HPWP has been developed based on PIAAC data. These taxonomies differ in both depth and breadth.

This report applies a pragmatic approach, where broad categories of workplace practices are selected based on existing taxonomies and driven by available data on underlying indicators. The following broad categories of HPWP have been selected:

  • Flexibility and autonomy: including working time flexibility, flexibility in tasks, involvement of employees in setting tasks, planning activities and applying own ideas.

  • Teamwork and information sharing: including receiving support from colleagues, working in a team with autonomy and sharing work-related information with colleagues.

  • Training and development: including continuing vocational and on-the-job training.

  • Benefits, career progression and performance management: including bonuses, prospects for career advancement, performance appraisal and competency profiles.

Source: UKCES (2009[11]), High Performance Working: A Synthesis of Key Literature, http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/id/eprint/9239; Posthuma et al. (2013[12]), A High Performance Work Practices Taxonomy: Integrating the Literature and Directing Future Research, https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0149206313478184; Sung, J. and D. Ashton (2006[13]), High Performance Work Practices: linking strategy and skills to performance outcomes,www.longwoods.com/articles/images/High%20Performance%20Work%20Practices_UKReport2011.pdf.

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Figure 4.2. Relation between the use of reading skills at work and the adoption of HPWP
Figure 4.2. Relation between the use of reading skills at work and the adoption of HPWP

Note: Skill use indicators show how often skills are used, scaled from 1 “Never” to 5 “Every day”. The share of jobs with high HPWP is based on various average of HPWP measures included in PIAAC.

Source: Calculations based on OECD (2019[8]), OECD Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC) (2012, 2015), www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036500

copy the linklink copied!Overview and performance of skills use in Poland

Overview of current arrangements for skills use in Poland

Policies that affect skills use are being developed throughout the government in a large number of ministries, most notably the Ministry of Investment and Economic Development (MIiR), the Ministry of National Education (MEN), the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW), the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy (MRPiPS), and the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology. Multiple other public and private organisations, institutions and agencies are involved in activities that could indirectly affect skills utilisation in workplaces, including sectoral organisations, public employment services, labour market councils, the Social Dialogue Council (Rada Dialogu Społecznego, RDS), the Innovation Council (Rada ds. Innowacyjności), and employee and employer organisations. However, there are only a few organisations where programmes and activities directly affect practices in the workplace.

At the national level, one of the main government agencies for providing support to employers and entrepreneurs is the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości, PARP). For over ten years, PARP has been contributing to the creation and effective implementation of policies related to enterprise development, innovation and human capital development in enterprises. It targets primarily small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with funding coming from the state budget and European funds. PARP also conducts research activities in various areas, such as enterprise development innovation. The activities of PARP can be organised into six categories: 1) start-ups are supported through various programmes and funding, for instance by helping them to scale-up through advisory, mentoring and financial support; 2) training and other services are offered through, for example, the PARP Academy and Innovation Manager Academy, and supported by, among others, the Database of Development Services (BUR); 3) PARP invests in enterprise innovation, for instance by co-financing the implementation of research and development (R&D); 4) other services for enterprises are offered, such as support for the protection of industrial property, R&D and design services; 5) PARP assists with entry to foreign markets for enterprises; and 6) PARP promotes business environment institutions and clusters that assist SMEs to enhance their innovative capacities. The relevant programmes of PARP and their role in enhancing skills utilisation will be discussed in more detail later on in this chapter.

Several other agencies and programmes that support innovation in firms also have an impact on skills utilisation in firms. At the national level, there is the National Centre for Research and Development (Narodowe Centrum Badań i Rozwoju, NCBiR), which is the implementing agency of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. While the organisation puts more emphasis on technical innovation rather than organisational innovation, it does promote co-operation between science and enterprises, with various programmes that support R&D and innovation, including the implementation of these practices in firms and research institutes (OECD, 2016[14]). The Industrial Development Agency (Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu, ARP) also supports enterprises in innovation, restructuring and investments. In addition to funding specific innovative projects, the ARP has launched initiatives that benefit skills development and use. These projects are often at the sector level, for instance, ARP provides support programmes for specific sectors that involves developing comprehensive development plans for industries.

Poland’s future ambitions, as expressed in the 2017 Strategy for Responsible Development, describe plans that could result in the better skills utilisation of Polish workers (MliR, 2017[15]). The strategy has a broad scope and aims to create conditions to increase the income of Polish citizens and to reduce social, economic and territorial inequalities. The strategy emphasises that enterprises play a central role in this process by increasing their productivity and innovativeness. Subsequently, it describes initiatives that could increase and improve the use of human capital in the labour market, including the development of innovative companies (see Opportunity 1 for more detail). Skills use and workplace practices are also expected to be addressed extensively in an upcoming productivity strategy for Poland.

Poland’s performance

The use of skills in Polish workplaces

The skills proficiency of the working population is around or slightly below the OECD average. However, these skills are not optimally used in the workplace, which indicates a waste of initial investment in skills. For instance, while average literacy scores in Poland are comparable with the OECD average, the use of reading skills lags far behind (OECD, 2016[3]). Comparable results can be found for the use of writing and problem-solving skills (Figure 4.3). And while numeracy proficiency is much lower in Poland than in countries like Norway, Israel and Denmark, the use of numeracy skills the performance is slightly better compared with these countries. When examining underlying tasks, Poland performs comparatively weakly in most categories. Performance can especially be improved for various tasks related to the use of literacy skills in reading and writing, such as for manuals, memos, mails, and forms, as well as tasks that involve numeracy skills, such as the calculations of fractions or percentages, and calculating costs and budgets (calculations based on PIAAC (OECD, 2019[8])).

The use of ICT skills at work could be improved. While many new technologies such as cloud computing and big data are widely available, they have been adopted and used by employees in a comparatively small share of Polish firms. Only 11% of Polish enterprises used cloud computing services in 2018 (26% across the EU) and 8% analysed big data (12% in the EU) (Eurostat, 2019[16]). Young enterprises adopt the latest technologies more often than established enterprises in Poland, but both young and older Polish firms are using the latest technologies less frequently than on average across the EU (Tarnawa et al., 2017[17]). Furthermore, one in five Polish workers use computers almost all the time, compared with one in three on average across the EU, and while Polish firms increasingly adopt existing technologies, there are still many firms that could gain from catching up (Eurofound, 2019[18]).

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Figure 4.3. Skills use at work indicators, Poland and OECD average
Skill use indicators show how often skills are used, scaled from 1 “Never” to 5 “Every day”
Figure 4.3. Skills use at work indicators, Poland and OECD average

Source: Calculations based on OECD (2019[8]), OECD Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC) (2012, 2015), www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036519

The skills of some workers are particularly underutilised in Poland, which is largely driven by whether they actually possess these skills – i.e. the intensity of skills use is naturally restricted by the skills that adults possess. Consequently, low-skilled adults are using their skills least intensively, and since low skill levels are especially prevalent among low-educated and older adults, these groups are naturally lagging behind (OECD, 2016[3]). For example, upper secondary educated workers in Poland use their ICT skills far less than tertiary educated workers with the same skills and in the same occupation. However, in Poland, skills use remains below the OECD average for all age groups, with older workers particularly using skills far less intensively than in most OECD countries.

As to be expected, there is large variation in the use of information processing skills between different firms and sectors – for example, ICT skills are likely to be less needed in construction than in the financial sector. Skills use is also highly correlated with firm size – larger firms generally use the skills of employees more effectively than smaller firms. As a consequence, the aggregated use of skills in workplaces is largely shaped by the sectoral composition and distribution of firm sizes in a country. In Poland, the comparatively low performance in the use of skills could therefore partly be explained by the relatively large number of those working in agriculture and manufacturing (OECD, 2019[19]), as well as the large share of micro-enterprises – 88% of enterprises have fewer than ten employees, compared with 79% on average across the OECD in 2016 (OECD, 2019[20]).

The adoption of high-performance workplace practices in Poland

As shown in Figure 4.2, the adoption of HPWP is associated with the more effective use of skills. Polish employers are adopting HPWP at a lower rate than their counterparts in most other countries: about 23% of workers were employed in jobs where these practices were adopted, compared with 26% in the OECD on average. HPWP capture a very diverse range of practices (as discussed in Box 4.2), covering: 1) flexibility and autonomy in the workplace; 2) teamwork and information sharing; 3) training and development; and 4) benefits, career progression and performance management.

Flexibility and autonomy

Government and stakeholder representatives (participants) consulted during this project stressed the importance of having flexibility at work and autonomy in performing tasks in the workplace. Employee control (autonomy) over aspects of their job is considered the job characteristic with the most significant benefits for firms and employees in various theoretical frameworks for job design (Morrison et al., 2005[21]). Moreover, the introduction of various new technologies enhances momentum for more flexibility and autonomy. For instance, new technologies allow for accessible and reliable software that supports teleworking and communication through video and conference calls, which creates less need for physical presence in the workplace.

Data show that working time flexibility can be enhanced in Poland. In 2015, only 13% of workers were able to adapt working hours to some extent (19% in EU) (Eurofound, 2019[18]), and the share of firms offering part-time work is slightly below the EU average (65% vs. 69%) (Eurofound, 2015[22]). In 2013, one in two employees indicated having flexible working times, compared with two out of three employees in the EU (Figure 4.4) (Eurofound, 2015[22]).

Work autonomy could be strengthened in Poland. A large share of employees report not being involved in setting tasks for work, and many employees have limited opportunities to apply their own ideas to their work (Eurofound, 2019[18]). In addition, the share of employees reporting that they can change the order of tasks and methods of work is below average (Figure 4.4) (Eurofound, 2019[18]), although PIAAC measures show slightly more positive results for indicators related to work autonomy.

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Figure 4.4. Adoption of practices that enhance the work flexibility and autonomy of employees
Figure 4.4. Adoption of practices that enhance the work flexibility and autonomy of employees

Note: 1. Share of workers indicating having work and task autonomy “always or most of the time”.

Source: Eurofound (2015[22]), European Company Survey 2013 (ECS), http://dx.doi.org/10.2806/417263; Eurofound (2019[18]), European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2015, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/data/european-working-conditions-survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036538

Different sectors of the economy are adopting these types of working practice to different extents, largely related to the types of job they offer. For example, it can be expected that opportunities for work flexibility are naturally more limited for workers on an assembly line than for office employees. In Poland, however, the differences in the adoption of HPWP between sectors appears to be comparatively large. A share comparable with the OECD average of employees using HPWP can be found in high-skill sectors such as information and communication, and professional, scientific and technical activities (calculations based on PIAAC (OECD, 2019[8])), but for most sectors, the adoption of HPWP is below the OECD average, especially in real estate, mining, financial and insurances, and public administration.

Teamwork and information sharing

Individuals working in teams generally use their skills more intensively. For instance, employees who say that they co-operate with co-workers to some or to a very high extent are using their skills more intensively than employees who do not co-operate with co-workers (OECD, 2016[3]). Workplaces where information is freely shared and where colleagues instruct and train each other reflect a working culture that supports the optimal use of skills. In Poland, there are signs that there is room to strengthen such a working culture.

Some 54% of workers (71% in the EU) have colleagues who help and support them, with only Italy out of the other EU countries having a lower share (Figure 4.5), and 50% of workers indicate not working in a team, compared with 45% in the EU (Eurofound, 2019[18]). PIAAC-data present more positive results, with more than half of Polish employees co-operating with co-workers more than half of the time, and three out of four employees sharing work-related information with colleagues on a daily or weekly basis.

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Figure 4.5. Co-operation between colleagues and teamwork in Polish firms
Figure 4.5. Co-operation between colleagues and teamwork in Polish firms

Note: 1. Share of workers indicating to get help and support from colleagues “always or most of the time”

Source: Eurofound (2019[18]), European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2015, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/data/european-working-conditions-survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036557

Training and development

The adoption of practices related to training and development is mixed, as discussed in Chapter 3. The share of employees participating in continuing vocational training courses in Poland (37.1% in 2015) is below the EU average (40.8%) (Eurostat, 2018[23]) (Figure 4.6), and participation in non-formal and informal learning in workplaces could be improved (Eurostat, 2018[24]). However, more generic on-the-job training is relatively common in Poland, with one in three employees participating in this type of training, a share comparable with the EU average (Eurofound, 2019[18]).

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Figure 4.6. Participation in continuing vocational and on-the-job training
Figure 4.6. Participation in continuing vocational and on-the-job training

Source: Eurostat (2018[23]), Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS) 2015, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/continuing-vocational-training-survey; Eurofound (2019[18]), European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2015, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/data/european-working-conditions-survey

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036576

The type of training offered in workplaces is diverse in Poland, but the most popular is through instruction, for example handling new equipment, machinery or software. For high-educated Polish employees, however, training in the form of inter-team meetings to exchange knowledge and experiences is more popular (Górniak, 2018[25]).

A culture of firms actively supporting training for employees could be strengthened – only 7% of firms have a training budget and use training as a non-financial motivator. The vast majority of employers are satisfied with the current skills of their employees, although only one in three Polish entrepreneurs conduct an assessment of skills deficits among employees, and only half do this systematically (Górniak, 2018[25]).

Benefits, career progression and performance management

Various studies provide evidence on the positive effects of incentive pay on skills use and productivity. Both individual and group performance-based bonuses (including in the public sector) have a positive effect on productivity (Bloom et al., 2010[26]). For Poland, bonuses have a comparatively strong effect on skills use – the differences in skills use (of all types) between employees who receive and who do not receive bonuses is larger than in most OECD countries (calculations based on PIAAC (OECD, 2019[8])). However, the share of employees that receive yearly bonuses is only average (approximately 45%, as measured by PIAAC). Moreover, participants consulted during this project indicated that for many firms, regular bonuses are a way to compensate for a lower basic salary, and stakeholders from primarily traditional industries consider linking basic salaries with qualifications more effective than bonuses.

Data also show that the adoption of other types of performance management and career progression practices could be improved in Poland. Only one in four Polish entrepreneurs conduct an evaluation of their employees, and 14% investigate the effectiveness of human resources (HR) management tools (Górniak, 2018[25]). While seven out of ten firms have some sort of performance appraisal system – a share comparable with the EU average – a relatively small share of firms have these systems for all employees (32% vs. 45% in the EU) (Figure 4.7) (Eurofound, 2015[22]). Despite this, the share of workers indicating that they have good prospects for career advancement is relatively high, 45% vs. 39% in the EU.

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Figure 4.7. Career advancement prospects and performance appraisal systems
Figure 4.7. Career advancement prospects and performance appraisal systems

Source Eurofound (2019[18]), European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2015, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/data/european-working-conditions-survey; Eurofound (2015[22]), European Company Survey 2013 (ECS), http://dx.doi.org/10.2806/417263

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036595

Jobs appear to be relatively static in Poland: a relatively small share of workers experience yearly changes in elements of their job, for instance in working hours per week, salary, influence over work or tasks and duties (Eurofound, 2019[18]). Job rotation with the intention to train new skills is relatively rare in Poland – only 9% of employees indicate participating in this form of training (Górniak, 2018[25]).

copy the linklink copied!Opportunities to improve the effective use of skills

To improve performance in the use of skills, this chapter describes four opportunities for Poland. This selection is based on input from literature, discussions with the National Project Team, and discussions and remarks made by government and stakeholder representatives (participants) in two workshops and several meetings. The selected opportunities are:

  1. 1. Raising awareness of the relevance of effective skills use and related HPWP.

  2. 2. Supporting enterprises and organisations to adopt HPWP.

  3. 3. Equipping management staff with the right skills to implement HPWP.

  4. 4. Engaging employees effectively to implement HPWP.

Opportunity 1: Raising awareness of the relevance of effective skills use and related high-performance workplace practices

Despite a number of programmes promoting practices that affect skills use to some extent, as well as strategies that have been introduced (e.g. the Strategy for Responsible Development), there is still significant room to raise skills use and strengthen practices in Polish workplaces. Policies that aim to raise awareness of the relevance of effective skills use and HPWP could be a relevant first step, and could be accompanied by more active support measures for enterprises (as will be discussed in Opportunity 2).

There are many measures that could potentially contribute to the overall awareness of the relevance of skills use and HPWP. However, this opportunity and the corresponding policy recommendations will focus primarily on raising awareness of skills use in workplaces and HPWP through inclusion in national, regional and sectoral strategies, as well as the dissemination of knowledge and good practices on HPWP through targeted campaigns and centralised online information.

Including the topic of skills use in workplaces and the adoption of HPWP in national, regional and sectoral strategies

In Poland, as in many OECD countries, skills utilisation in workplaces has not been given a great deal of consideration by policy makers. The reason for this lies partly in the difficulty of identifying the determinants that affect skills use, directly and often indirectly; the fact that there is little precedent for public intervention at the level of the workplace; and insufficient clarity for policy makers about their role and what levers to use to influence skills use (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). A different policy approach is needed that includes all stakeholders, and there is a significant role for soft regulation, i.e. non-binding persuasive policy intervention (Alasoini, 2016[27]). Strategies on different levels could support the adoption of such a policy approach by raising awareness of skills use and HPWP.

Poland should include the topic of skills use in its national, regional and sectoral strategies for economic development, human and social capitals, industry and innovation. At the national level, skills use is addressed indirectly in some strategies, but not mentioned explicitly. The strategy that addresses skills use most directly is the Strategy for Responsible Development (Box 4.3). This strategy is a good start, and Poland should ensure that the actions described within the strategy are implemented. Various other strategies include measures and actions that directly or indirectly support skills use, especially strategies related to innovation (Klincewicz and Marczewska, 2018[28]) such as the National Smart Specialisations, the Regional Smart Specialisations, and several sectoral programmes of the NCBiR developed in partnership with industry stakeholders.

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Box 4.3. Relevant Polish example: Skills use in workplaces and HPWP in strategies

The Strategy for Responsible Development

The Strategy for Responsible Development is a key document regarding medium- and long-term economic policy (MliR, 2017[15]). One of the first objectives is “Sustainable economic growth increasingly driven by knowledge, data and organisational excellence”, which captures the element to ensure an ‘innovative business development’. Here, skill use is addressed through the objective of building pro-innovation attitudes through optimal use of human capital and strengthening social capital. The strategy focusses primarily on skills development in this context – including strengthening human and social capital by forming pro-innovation attitudes, promoting knowledge of the opportunities to implement innovations in companies and their related advantages, and managing innovative processes. The strategy does however address various measures that affect the use of skills in workplaces.

Most importantly, the strategy emphasises the need to create a culture of innovativeness in companies by disseminating knowledge about methods of introducing innovations and improving related management skills. It addresses the need to establish a culture of innovativeness and learning in public administration, as well as promoting inter- and intra-sectoral mobility. In addition, for SMEs the strategy intends to promote stable forms of employment and flexible working arrangements among entrepreneurs, and increase the use of the potential of modern telecommunication technologies in micro and small enterprises. So far, several concrete programmes have been launched that address the issues raised in the Strategy for Responsible Development, including Innovation Manager, SME Manager Academy, and the AMI alumni network that will be addressed in the next opportunity.

Source: MliR (2017[15]), Strategy for Responsible Development, www.miir.gov.pl/media/48672/SOR.pdf.

A number of conditions could improve the effectiveness of these strategies and programmes. Strategy actions related to the effective use of skills and HPWP could be supported by indicators that measure the implementation of these practices. For skills use and related HPWP, quantitative and measurable targets that are understood and supported by all stakeholders would raise the success of implementation and would support the monitoring and evaluation of the strategy. Targets and indicators for the proposed actions in the Strategy for Responsible Development have not been identified. It is also important for Poland to ensure that the strategies are consistent and well aligned. While this is not yet an issue for strategies addressing skills use, aligning the large number of innovation strategies is considered a challenge for Poland (Klincewicz and Marczewska, 2018[28]) as it reduces their effectiveness. Poland should continue simplification efforts, including by stimulating initiatives such as the National Smart Specialisations and the Regional Smart Specialisations.

Recommendation for including the topic of skills use in workplaces and the adoption of HPWP in national, regional and sectoral strategies

  • Put skills use and HPWP on the policy agenda by including them more explicitly and more prominently in strategies with targeted, measurable actions. Government (national and regional) and sectoral organisations should include skills use and HPWP in their strategies, with actions and targets as concrete as possible. The effectiveness of these actions should be raised by including measurable indicators to monitor and evaluate implementation. Build on current proposed actions in the Strategy for Responsible Development and ensure consistency between strategies by aiming to simplify, consolidate and co-ordinate actions.

Disseminating knowledge and good practices related to HPWP through targeted campaigns and centralised online information

The awareness of the importance of effective skills use could be raised by informing employers, managers and entrepreneurs about the relevance of workplace innovations and the benefits for their companies. Participants in the workshops and meetings during this project indicated that many firms are currently not aware of these benefits, and that they find it difficult to find relevant information. While there are websites and tools available, there is not sufficient co-ordination, and the highly dispersed information is a barrier to their use. The Strategy for Responsible Development has stressed the need for disseminating knowledge about methods of introducing innovation in workplaces.

To raise the motivation of employers, managers and entrepreneurs to adopt these practices, benefits should be made tangible and clear, especially given that the benefits of HPWP are not always directly visible. For instance, results from their implementation, such as a rise in productivity, take time (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). Information on workplace practices should be concrete, applicable and relatable, for instance by showing examples of good and bad practices.

Different formats could be used to raise awareness of new and innovative workplace practices. The Polish government and stakeholders could raise awareness through targeted campaigns (see Box 4.5 for international examples). Contests for best-performing companies are considered effective in bringing public attention to workplace practices, encouraging companies to rethink their activities, and helping to change organisational culture. Government and stakeholders could more actively use different types of media, including social media, to make campaigns more targeted and ensure that groups most in need are reached. In Poland there are already a number of campaigns that indirectly promote workplace practices and the effective use of skills. For example, the Leader in Human Resource Management initiative (Box 4.4), organised by the Institute of Labour and Social Studies (Instytut Pracy i Spraw Socjalnych, IPiSS), is a competition to identify effective solutions, disseminate good practices, and create standards for HR management with the aim of raising efficiency in Polish workplaces. Other examples of competitions include the Polish Confederation Lewiatan, which gives awards to outstanding entrepreneurs and opinion leaders. PARP has also recently launched several campaigns that it plans to expand.

Awareness of HPWP could also be raised through centralised online information. In conversation with the OECD, PARP emphasised the need to provide practical knowledge in addition to campaigns, which are primarily useful to change mindsets. Despite a number of websites in Poland with information for employers and entrepreneurs (e.g. https://www.parp.gov.pl/, https://www.biznes.gov.pl and https://uslugirozwojowe.parp.gov.pl/ [the Database of Development Services, BUR]), none of these can be considered a centralised website for workplace practices and innovation. As a response to this dispersed information, many participants in workshops expressed their support for a centralised portal or database that captures all relevant information on workplace innovation, and shows examples of good practices and successful projects. Some participants introduced the idea of developing and including a tool on such a website that assesses the skills of employees to better understand which skills they have and how to use them more effectively. Such a website could also be accompanied by information on existing public support. This could be a first step to motivate employers, managers and entrepreneurs to change their organisational culture and workplaces, complemented by more active support that will be discussed in Opportunity 2.

Various institutions and organisations could play a role in raising awareness about skills use and good workplace practices. PARP should be key in this process given its central role in the adoption of innovation in SMEs. In addition, the decentralised Polish public employment services (PES) can reach a large number of employers and have a crucial position in the distribution of funding for firms. The voivodeship labour offices (part of the regional government – voivodeship) and county (powiat) labour offices (part of local government at the district level) of the PES particularly have a potentially important role to play in raising awareness (OECD, 2016[14]). However, while labour offices do work with employers, their tasks mainly target those who are unemployed, especially for county labour offices. Awareness raising campaigns could also be driven by employer organisations and trade unions.

Sectoral skills councils could potentially have a role in raising awareness of skills use and workplace practices as they are already active in discussing the skills potential and current and future skill needs of sectors. There are currently seven sector councils with representation from social partners from a given sector, entrepreneurs, public institutions and representatives of the education and training sector. However, based on an evaluation by PARP (Śnieżek et al., 2017[29]), the success of sectoral skills councils appears to be mixed: there are various organisational and managerial issues that need to be addressed, and workplace practices are currently largely outside their scope of activities. It should be noted that the councils are still at the development stage, and many stakeholders during the project indicated that they should extend their activities at regional and local levels in order to successfully participate in awareness raising. Some sectoral skills councils are already active in sharing good practices and distributing information. For instance, the sectoral skills council on finance has introduced “Learning Open Days”, where colleagues from financial and other institutions have the opportunity to learn from each other and to share best work practices.

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Box 4.4. Relevant Polish example: Targeted campaign and centralised online information

Leader in Human Resource Management

The Leader in Human Resource Management (HRM) initiative by the Institute of Labour and Social Studies (Instytut Pracy i Spraw Socjalnych, IPiSS), launched in 2000, serves to emphasise the strategic role of human capital in an organisation and to appreciate the specific efforts of participants in the field of HRM. The goals of the competition are to disseminate knowledge in the field of HRM, identify effective solutions, disseminate good practices, create standards for HRM in the specific conditions of the Polish economy, and support the increase in the efficiency of companies. The competition covers almost all areas of HRM, including recruitment, assessment, employee development practices, remuneration, terms and conditions of employment, corporate social responsibility, and work-life balance.

Source: IPiSS (2019[30]), Institute of Labour and Social Studies website, www.ipiss.com.pl/?lang=en.

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Box 4.5. Relevant international example: Targeted campaigns on workplace practices

European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN)

In Europe, the European Commission created the European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN) in 2013 to stimulate awareness of workplace innovation and to share knowledge and experience between enterprises, researchers, social partners, and policy makers through conferences, workshops, film, social media and an online knowledge bank.

Regional initiatives to raise awareness of HPWP in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, various initiatives led by the government, companies and knowledge institutes aim to increase the awareness and managerial applicability of HPWP. For example, the region of Noord-Brabant is one of the leading regions in the Netherlands on various types of innovation. In this region, companies can win a Social Innovation Award as recognition for a promising HPWP initiative. The Expedition Social Innovation, funded by the Dutch government, involves a group of entrepreneurs and managers meeting and discussing what HPWP can mean for their organisation and how they can introduce these practices into their organisation.

Source: OECD/ILO (2017[10]) Better Use of Skills in the Workplace: Why It Matters for Productivity and Local Jobs, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264281394-en; OECD (2017[31]), OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report: Netherlands 2017, https://doi.org/10.1787/23078731.

Recommendations for disseminating knowledge and good practices related to HPWP through targeted campaigns and centralised online information

  • Use targeted online campaigns on skills use and workplace practices and publicly recognise successful enterprises and organisations. The Polish government, public employment services, PARP, trade unions, and other stakeholders should raise awareness of skills use and good workplace practices through targeted online campaigns (e.g. by using social media), and by publicly rewarding good practices (e.g. the Leader in Human Resource Management initiative).

  • Introduce a centralised portal or website on innovative workplace practices that raise skills use. This portal or website could summarise all relevant information on workplace innovations, show examples of good practices, and feature descriptions of successful projects. This information could be accompanied by information on available public support. The website could potentially be based or an extended version of websites www.parp.gov.pl/, www.biznes.gov.pl or www.uslugirozwojowe.parp.gov.pl (BUR).

Opportunity 2: Supporting enterprises and organisations to adopt high-performance workplace practices

While promoting HPWP through soft regulation plays an important role in the adoption of HPWP in workplaces (as described in Opportunity 1), this may not be sufficient, especially for employers and entrepreneurs who are already aware of the relevance of HPWP. A Polish study by PARP suggests that the main barriers to the growth and change of Polish firms are internal, including weak management skills, limited delegation of tasks, poor organisation of work and weak teamwork skills, limited planning, and the domination of ad hoc tasks (PARP, 2014[32]). It is not a lack of motivation and awareness that prevents many firms from adopting HPWP, but insufficient resources and limited know-how.

To improve the use of skills and the adoption of HPWP the government should actively support firms to adopt HPWP. Evidence suggests that approaches leveraging employer networks and sectoral collaboration are cost-efficient and potentially the most effective at catalysing change, rather than centralised approaches. Governments should support and promote such a decentralised approach. To improve the use of skills and the adoption of HPWP in Polish firms, the public sector should set a good example by becoming a leader in the adoption of new technologies and workplace practices.

Supporting firms, especially SMEs, to adopt HPWP

Firms in Poland face difficulties in the adoption of many categories of HPWP, and there are large differences in the adoption of HPWPs across firms and sectors, with those lagging behind likely to face barriers beyond limited awareness and motivation. For change to occur in workplaces, employers must have significant buy-in and investment in the benefits of prioritising and developing human resources. Public interventions can help to incentivise and support actions by employers (see Box 4.7 for international examples on interventions for the adoption of HPWP).

SMEs face particular difficulties in adopting HPWP, often due to an inadequate HR function (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). Many micro-enterprises are already innovative in terms of developing new products and services, but organisational innovations are limited (Zadura-Lichota, 2015[33]). The main barriers to innovation in these enterprises are the scarcely available resources to implement new solutions and the lack of time. For instance, many small firms cannot afford to have their employees attend training during working hours as they do not have the human resources to replace them.

This is particularly relevant for Poland, as a comparatively large share of firms and employees are SMEs, with an over-representation of micro-enterprises that have fewer than ten employees. While employers of almost all sizes in Poland use workers’ skills less frequently, on average, than those in other OECD countries, micro-enterprises and large firms in particular are adopting HPWP at a lower rate than their counterparts in other OECD countries (calculations based on PIAAC (OECD, 2019[8])). The Strategy for Responsible Development highlights the need to support SMEs by adapting mechanisms of support to implement necessary structural transformations in the SME sector.

A number of organisations actively support Polish SMEs. PARP arguably has the most prominent role, with a number of programmes having an impact on workplace practices. A good example is the ScaleUP programme (Box 4.6), which is a pilot dedicated to micro or small enterprises that aims to accelerate the creation of start-ups and the development of products and services for commercialisation. The design of the ScaleUP programme has been considered to have the potential to raise the innovativeness of enterprises in Poland, promote open innovations and help start-ups find committed corporate partners (Klincewicz and Marczewska, 2018[28]).

Other organisations also run programmes that affect workplace practices, especially the promotion of innovation. For example, the Innovation Pitch events, organised by the Industrial Development Agency (ARP), promote co-operation between SMEs and large firms. In these events, the SME sector presents its innovative technological solutions that can successfully be applied commercially. The programme results in innovative ideas and co-operation between firms, helps to build a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and stimulates the development of SMEs.

Public employment services in Poland, especially county (powiat) and voivodeship labour offices, also work closely with employers to address workplace practices, mainly through counselling services. These services consist of supporting the professional development of employers and their employees, as well as other activities. A 2015 OECD survey among employees working in county labour offices showed that almost one in three respondents work with local employers to improve practices related to HR and workplace organisation (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). In some regions, centres dedicated to supporting start-ups and SMEs have even been established within the structure of labour offices, for instance the Poznań Centre for Entrepreneurship Support. However, as discussed in Opportunity 1, the role of labour offices is limited given that their tasks mainly target those who are unemployed, especially for county labour offices.

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Box 4.6. Relevant Polish example: Supporting firms to adopt HPWP

ScaleUP programme

ScaleUP by PARP is the first public programme to support the acceleration of young, innovative companies in Poland. The programme supports co-operation between start-ups and large companies, which share infrastructure, technical facilities and knowledge, and are looking for new, revolutionary solutions and products. The programme is dedicated to start-ups with the greatest potential and that can get involved in the programme for three to six months. It offers advice, mentoring and financial support. The unique feature of Scale Up is the inclusion of large companies as the potential recipients of solutions developed by young companies.

The 2016 ScaleUp pilot programme contributed to the creation of ten accelerators, with the participation of 276 start-ups. Some 190 new solutions were implemented in the value chains of large companies, with 31 solutions introduced to the market so far. The second edition of the ScaleUp programme started in 2019, and emphasises the acceleration of start-ups whose projects fit into Poland’s areas of specialisation, including the industrial Internet of Things, bioeconomy, FinTech, artificial intelligence, Smart City, cybersecurity and space technologies. As part of the programme, start-ups will benefit from individual development paths conducted by experienced experts, advisory and mentoring services with a value of up to PLN 50 000 (Polish zloty), and financial support up to PLN 200 000. It is planned that over 400 start-ups will benefit from the programme.

Source: PARP (2018[34]), Report Scale Up, www.parp.gov.pl/storage/publications/pdf/20190123134917fec5k.pdf.

Financial support for HPWP related to training and development comes primarily from the National Training Fund (Krajowy Fundusz Szkoleniowy, KFS). As a separate component of the Labour Fund, the KFS is intended for the co-financing of training for employees and employers, with different spending priorities every year. Any kind of training that employers consider necessary can be financed, with the KFS contributing 80-100% of the course or service costs. Prioritisation of the highest amount of co-financing is given to micro-enterprises. However, participants in the workshops and meetings, as well as social partners from the Social Dialogue Council, emphasised that funds for the KFS are currently insufficient in relation to the needs reported by employers. It is therefore unlikely that the KFS with current funding will drive an increase in training and development in workplaces in the short term.

Companies can benefit from a number of other funding opportunities for HPWP-related to training. For instance, as part of the EU financial perspective 2014-2020, Poland introduced a new financial system for training enterprises and employees linked to European Social Funds: Podmiotowy System Finansowania (PSF). Launched in 14 regions, the PSF allows entrepreneurs to decide on their own development, with funding available for education and training offers included in the Database of Development Services (BUR). The training offer in the BUR does not include opportunities relevant for all sectors and skills (many target soft skills) – for example, there are 84 training offers in construction vs. 6 068 offers in “personal development” – but this issue can be solved with the functionality of the BUR to request “tailor-made” training offers. In addition, firms can generally obtain support for training through various business support institutions, such as technology parks, technology and business incubators, technology transfer centres, innovation centres, regional and local loan funds, credit guarantee funds, business angel networks, and training and consulting centres. In 2014, there were 681 of these entities in Poland (Klincewicz and Marczewska, 2018[28]).

Despite these efforts to support Polish enterprises to adopt HPWP, more could still be done. First, not all firms have access to support measures because of the targeted nature of many existing programmes. Although PARP manages to primarily target SMEs, and more specifically micro-enterprises (a very high share [83%] of funding from the Innovative Economy Operational Programme between 2007 and 2016 went to SMEs, and 54% to micro-enterprises (PARP, 2018[35])), many existing programmes target innovative firms and new start-ups. PARP and other stakeholders in the workshop indicated that some types of enterprise are therefore excluded, for instance existing SMEs that have been in operation for more than two years.

Second, there are several barriers to the use of these support measures. As indicated in the Strategy for Responsible Development, support for SMEs is currently somewhat dispersed, and there is the need to concentrate support for enterprises and entrepreneurship, which is one of the objectives of the Polish Development Fund (Polski Fundusz Rozwoju, PFR). This state-owned financial group offers instruments that support the development of companies, local governments and individuals, and both PARP and ARP are part of the fund. In workshops and meetings, participants proposed a centralised portal with information on all support measures (as also discussed in Opportunity 1). Furthermore, PARP has acknowledged the need for more high-level co-ordination between, and sustainability of, different measures. Public organisations (for instance PARP, the Educational Research Institute [Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych, IBE] and different ministries) could strengthen their efforts to co-ordinate their projects and activities related to human capital development. Access to many programmes, especially those relying on EU funding, is complicated by excessive administrative procedures. Many SMEs do not have the capacity to deal with these procedures, and the administrative burden is considered one of the main barriers to the development of entrepreneurship (Klincewicz and Marczewska, 2018[28]). In some programmes, Poland has already made progress in reducing the administrative burden. For the PSF, for example, Poland successfully simplified and shortened administrative procedures, with significant reductions in waiting time for subsidised services. Despite these improvements, administrative burdens remain relatively onerous (OECD, 2018[36]).

Third, support for firms could be more tailored to the specific needs of firms and sectors. In general, since jobs in different sectors of the economy require different approaches to HPWP and skills use, sector-based strategies can be particularly effective as they are better able to take into account the overall “skills ecosystem” that serves as the broader context for how skills are used in the workplace (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). For Poland, the Strategy for Responsible Development points out that formerly implemented instruments of support for SMEs have not fully considered their specific needs and development potential. According to PARP, such a tailored approach could start with a diagnosis of the firm on selected topics, it could then build knowledge and expertise on these topics, and finally practice the project implementation. All of this would be accompanied by evidence-based information and the sharing of knowledge and practice with other companies. PARP indicates that in this process, mentoring and coaching programmes are most successful in changing organisational practices, especially in co-operation with the business environment. However, since these work practices are often sector specific, the number of organisations and consultants with the required expertise is often limited (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). The sectoral skills councils with their sector specific knowledge, expertise, and network could potentially play an important role in the development of such a tailored approach.

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Box 4.7. Relevant international examples: Supporting firms to adopt HPWP

High-Performance Working Initiative in New Zealand

New Zealand has centred its pursuit of workplace innovation on improving productivity performance, and has singled out the poor use of skills in workplaces as a key policy issue. The High-Performance Working Initiative provides business coaching for SMEs to help streamline work practices to improve performance, while also increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. Business improvement consultants work with firms to improve their productivity. Funding is provided by the government agency Callaghan Innovation, with the firm providing half the funding.

Australian examples of increasing innovation and productivity in firms

In Australia, policy engagement with HPWP has been driven by a perceived need to increase innovation and productivity. A number of Australian initiatives have sought to promote best practice in this area, from the Best Practice Demonstration Programme in the early 1990s to the more recent Partners at Work Grants Programme in Victoria. This programme offers competitive grants to assist workplace changes that benefit all stakeholders, and is designed to encourage the development of co-operative workplace practices. It provides funding to support the appointment of consultants to work with organisations and for relevant training investments.

Initiatives to support the adoption of HPWP in Singapore

In Singapore, interventions that support the adoption of HPWP involve funding and other types of support for employers to reshape their workplaces and move towards higher-value-added production. These can include strengthening HR systems to better link skills acquisition to career trajectories; hiring consultants to review compensation structures to retain skilled workers; or hiring consultants to assess the training needs of an organisation and to adapt available training to these specific needs. An example of such a programme is the Enterprise Training Support scheme. Introduced in 2013, the scheme aims to 1) raise employee productivity and skill levels; 2) attract and retain employees by developing good HRM systems and practices tied to training; and 3) attract and retain valued employees by benchmarking compensation and benefits.

Source: OECD/ILO (2017[10]), Better Use of Skills in the Workplace: Why It Matters for Productivity and Local Jobs, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264281394-en.

Recommendations for supporting firms to adopt HPWP

  • Enhance and expand support measures for firms by PARP, sectoral skills councils and other organisations through the funding of organisational innovation and access to expert consultation and coaching. Ensure the relevance of measures for firms, especially SMEs, through tailored support in the form of mentoring and coaching programmes, where specific characteristics of the industry are taken into account. Continue to expand and strengthen current good examples (e.g. ScaleUp and Innovation Pitch), strengthen the co-ordination between, and sustainability of, existing measures, especially measures related to human capital development, and take into consideration support for HPWP in formulating priorities for operational programmes.

  • Ensure accessibility of support measures by reducing administrative complexity and through the creation of a centralised portal. Strengthen current efforts to reduce the administrative burden related to support measures and assist applicants by establishing a centralised portal with information on all available support. Although support should still target SMEs, ensure that all firms can access support measures if needed. More specifically, support should not only be accessible for the most innovative firms and start-ups, but also for existing enterprises.

Leveraging employer networks and supporting collaboration at the sector level to promote the adoption of HPWP

Bringing together employers on a sectoral or regional basis can stimulate more strategic thinking about various work practices (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). Evidence suggests that approaches that leverage employer networks or collaboration at the sector level are cost efficient and potentially more effective at catalysing change than centralised approaches. These networks and clusters can take a number of forms, from informal networking, to social contact, to formal networks with a central hub organisation that has a membership structure, fees and formal governance arrangements (see Box 4.8 for international examples).

There are already initiatives in Poland where networks are stimulated. For instance, PARP runs a number of projects where groups of employers and other stakeholders come together, including sectoral skills councils, and it has a large network of enterprises. Based on experiences and feedback from employers, managers and entrepreneurs, PARP explained to the OECD that some of its most valuable programmes are informal learning and networking programmes based on smaller workshops and seminars provided on a regular basis throughout the year. By bringing together entrepreneurs, participants can share their experiences and learn from each other.

Business clusters play an important role in bringing together employers. According to a study carried out by PARP, the number of business clusters has significantly expanded in recent years, and there are now approximately 130 clusters and cluster initiatives in Poland. These clusters include 3 374 entities, mostly SMEs, and represent slightly more than 4% of employees in the Polish enterprise sector. The infrastructure for information and research is one of the main strengths of Polish clusters, and they are generally well organised, with strategic documents and employees dealing with the affairs of their members (Dębczyński et al., 2018[37]). The Polish government supports clusters with various programmes. For instance, PARP runs the ClusterFY project, which aims to intensify clusters for specific industries, foster inter-regional co-operation among clusters and business networks, and encourage their integration into value chains.

Some 16 of the 130 clusters are national key clusters, which means that they are of vital importance for the Polish economy, with high levels of international competitiveness and potential for innovation. National key clusters are the only clusters that receive national funding from European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) (in the current financial perspective 2014-2020) (Klincewicz and Marczewska, 2018[28]). PARP also directly supports these clusters with the Internationalisation of National Key Clusters programme.

The PARP study demonstrated that there are still significant possibilities to further improve the functioning and management of these clusters, and that the availability of public funds for clusters sharply decreased from PLN 140 million in the period 2012-2014 to PLN 23.5 million in 2016-2017 (Dębczyński et al., 2018[37]).

There are several other examples of initiatives and programmes where networks are stimulated, especially to support innovation. For example, the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) stimulates the formation of sectoral interest groups by launching dedicated R&D funding schemes based on research agendas jointly prepared by representative bodies. The Startup Poland Foundation is the community voice of new Polish technology-based companies, and has proven to be very influential in raising awareness of the potential of Polish start-ups among policy makers. The Coalition for Polish Innovations (Koalicja na rzecz Polskich Innowacji), formed in 2015, involves various employers, government agencies and non-governmental organisations. It actively engages in public consultations of legal regulations and promotes good practice in research and innovation, for instance through the publication of best practices for implementing employee innovation systems.

Collaboration among employers and entrepreneurs is supported by the various representative organisations of Polish enterprises, including employer associations such as the Polish Confederation Lewiatan, Employers of Poland (Pracodawcy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej), the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers (Związek Przedsiębiorców i Pracodawców), and the Union of Polish Crafts (Związek Rzemiosła Polskiego). Most of these associations frequently engage employers in outreach activities related to research and innovation.

At the local level, co-ordination and co-operation can take the form of a local partnership, local platform for skills or local skills councils; however, despite a number of initiatives targeted at building local partnerships in Poland, many have not succeeded (OECD, 2016[14]). There are laws that promote the creation of local partnership institutions (LPIs), which could be, for instance, a partnership between a local university, business centre and municipal companies to establish specific study programmes. These LPIs may be initiated by anyone and funding is available from the Labour Fund for business activity. However, not everybody is aware of this opportunity, and in practice it appears to be difficult to create an LPI, often due to limited support from authorities (OECD, 2016[14]).

Many stakeholders consulted in the course of this project indicated that the low level of association among employers, especially from the micro and SME sectors, is an issue for Poland. In most of the programmes described above, SMEs are under-represented. According to PARP, it is necessary to better explain to SMEs the benefits of working together (in an association or industry organisation) rather than taking individual action. In many other government programmes there are systemic problems in involving employers. For instance, in workshops and meetings, labour offices indicated that employers were difficult to engage in many of their programmes, often because they do not see the benefits of participation.

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Box 4.8. Relevant international examples: International employer networks

Germany KMU-NEtC – Improved access of SMEs to research networks and clusters

In 2016, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research launched the funding programme KMU-NetC to promote ambitious R&D and innovation collaborations through networks and clusters. Priority is given to networks and clusters that have a concentration of SMEs. The objective of the initiative is to promote new ideas, new applications and new business models, and improve the dissemination and use of research results and model solutions among SMEs. KMU-NetC foresees fostering the innovation strategies or technology roadmaps of German networks and clusters. It is part of the federal programme “Priority for the small business”.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange programme that gives newly established or potential entrepreneurs opportunities to learn from well-experienced managers of SMEs in other European Union member states. The exchange of expertise is implemented by the new entrepreneur staying with the host entrepreneur, who helps the former to acquire the skills necessary to manage a small company. For both entrepreneurs, the activity brings important added values, such as fresh ideas, knowledge sharing, opportunities to expand their networks of business contacts throughout Europe and exploring foreign markets.

The Enterprise Europe Network

The Enterprise Europe Network is the world's largest support network for SMEs with international ambitions. It has 3 000 experts across 600 member organisations in more than 60 countries. Member organisations include chambers of commerce and industry, technology centres, and research institutes. Network consultants offer comprehensive services for SMEs and help to fully develop the potential and innovative capabilities of companies.

Source: OECD (2019[38]), SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook 2019, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/34907e9c-en; PARP (2019[39]), Polish Agency for Enterprise Development website, https://en.parp.gov.pl/.

Recommendations for leveraging employer networks and supporting collaboration at the sector level to promote the adoption of HPWP

  • Raise the involvement of employers from micro-enterprises and SMEs in collaborative initiatives at the national, local and sectoral level to catalyse change in workplaces. The Polish government, PARP, labour offices, employer organisations and related institutions should raise employer awareness of the opportunities and benefits of joining employer networks, employer associations, clusters and partnerships, by providing information on the benefits of association and listing the possibilities for firms (e.g. on a centralised website as discussed in previous sections). Moreover, the government could potentially stimulate the association of employers through incentives and funding and raise their involvement in government initiatives. Promoting co-operation between the public and private sector (especially SMEs) could help to raise awareness and motivate SMEs to adopt relevant HPWP.

  • Improve the effectiveness and increase the impact of existing networks and collaborative initiatives. The Polish government should ensure that current initiatives that bring together employers are effective and beneficial for members. For instance, the effectiveness and success of business clusters could be enhanced through the provision of adequate support (financial and non-financial) to all clusters, not solely the national key clusters. Barriers to the creation of local partnership institutions should be removed.

Ensuring a leading role for the public sector in the effective use of skills and the adoption of HPWP

To improve the use of skills and the adoption of HPWP in Polish firms, the public sector should become a leader in the adoption of new technologies and workplace practices. The public sector could not only set a good example, it could also spread and promote good practices by adopting them. However, PIAAC data show that there is considerable room to improve the use of skills in the public sector in Poland, for example, the use of ICT skills is almost 9% lower in the public sector than in the private sector, adjusted for skill levels and job characteristics, which is a large compared to most OECD countries (Figure 4.8).

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Figure 4.8. Use of ICT skills in public and private sector
Adjusted difference between public and private sector in the average use of ICT skills
Figure 4.8. Use of ICT skills in public and private sector

Note: Adjusted estimates are based on OLS regressions including controls for skill levels, hours worked and occupation dummies (International Standard Classification of Occupations [ISCO] one digit).

How to read this chart: For Poland, the value of -9 indicates that average use of ICT skills is 9% lower in the public sector than in the private sector, corrected for differences in skills, hours worked and type of occupation.

Source: Calculations based on OECD (2019[8]), OECD Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC) (2012, 2015), www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036614

Based on case studies across OECD countries, different approaches to promote innovation in the public sector could be applied, including introducing award and recognition programmes that encourage new ideas in all levels of government, establishing innovation-oriented networks and mobility programmes, and applying holistic approaches to managing staff to create a framework for supporting innovation (OECD, 2017[40]). Overall, it is relevant to create an organisational culture where employees feel empowered and do not see risks in experimenting. Furthermore, flexibility in budgets, supported by outcome goals and strong performance management, could help to create incentives for innovation, and initiating a unit within government specifically dedicated to innovation could help to overcome barriers. The success of innovations could be improved by appropriate risk management strategies as well as a free flow of information, data and knowledge across the public sector (OECD, 2017[40]).

The low comparative performance in skills use in the Polish public service can be partly explained by the average skill levels of civil servants, with the skills gap between public and private sectors comparatively large (Mazar, 2018[41]). To raise the use of skills and to strengthen innovation in the public sector, it is therefore essential that Polish civil servants develop the right skills. For a 21st century public service, the OECD identified six skill areas for civil servants: iteration, data literacy, user centricity, curiosity, storytelling, and insurgency (OECD, 2017[42]).

There are already various good examples in Poland of efforts to strengthen the skills of civil servants. For example, the OECD (2017[42]) highlighted the Lech Kaczyński National School of Public Administration (Krajowa Szkoła Administracji Publicznej im. Lecha Kaczyńskiego) as a good example of how to train and prepare civil servants. Since 1991, it has been tasked with training and preparing Polish civil servants and high-ranking officials from the administration. Only 40 students per year are selected for the full-time programme, and graduates have guaranteed employment in the public administration after 18-20 months of training. For the continuous training of public administration employees, the organisation offers a number training courses, including in law, administration and finance, clerical skills, staff management, and foreign languages.

There are indications that learning opportunities for civil servants could be further strengthened. PARP highlighted the need to build more knowledge among public administration representatives (nationally and regionally), especially in the field of adult learning and support for HR development. Poland could introduce systemic peer learning activities specifically for the public sector, where information on the various activities by the EU, PARP and related organisations could be presented and discussed. Moreover, the Polish government could develop a strategic vision for the skills of civil servants, including skills assessments and activities to strengthen and further develop their skills (see international example in Box 4.9).

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Box 4.9. Relevant international example: Skills initiatives in the public sector

United Kingdom civil service skills initiatives

The UK civil service has been taking steps to align its skills strategy with the civil service strategic vision. The 2012 Civil Service Reform Plan identified skills gaps that must be addressed in order to meet the objectives of reducing public expenditure while meeting citizens’ growing service expectations. In 2013, the UK civil service published a capabilities plan for the whole civil service which identified four priority skills gaps central to support the 2012 civil service reform: 1) leading and managing change; 2) commercial skills and behaviours; 3) delivering successful projects and programmes; and 4) redesigning services and delivering them digitally.

The 2013 plan lays out ways to build, buy and borrow the capabilities needed. Building internal capabilities through learning and development, buying through contracting and/or recruiting, and borrowing through loans between departments and secondments with the private sector. These strategies are reinforced in the UK’s civil service plan 2016-2020, which sets out five areas for action: 1) open up recruitment across the civil service to attract and retain people of talent; 2) build career paths through professional development to map out key skills and experiences, and ways to aid their development; 3) develop leadership through a leadership academy; 4) focus on employee inclusion, with a goal for the civil service to become the most inclusive employer in the United Kingdom; and 5) look at pay and rewards with a view to increased flexibility for market attraction of scarce skills.

Source: UK Cabinet Office (2016[43]), Civil Service Workforce Plan 2016-2020, www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/536961/civil_service_workforce_strategy_final.pdf.

Recommendation for ensuring a leading role for the public sector in the effective use of skills and the adoption of HPWP

  • Raise the use of skills and the adoption of HPWP in the public sector by promoting a culture of innovation and knowledge. The Polish government should ensure that public administration representatives (at the national and regional level) develop the skills needed for a 21st century public service, including by introducing more programmes targeted at civil servants, launching systemic peer learning activities specifically for the public sector, and developing a strategic vision for the skills of civil servants. Promote innovation in the public sector by ensuring that the public sector is at the forefront of adopting new technologies and workplace practices. To develop a culture of innovation, the Polish government could introduce award and recognition programmes that encourage new ideas, establish innovation-oriented networks and mobility programmes, and promote management practices that encourage employees to experiment with new innovations. The government could also strengthen incentives to innovate (e.g. by raising flexibility in budgets and strong performance management) and remove barriers to innovation (e.g. by setting up a dedicated unit)

Opportunity 3: Equipping management staff with the right skills to implement high-performance workplace practices

While it is essential that employers and entrepreneurs are motivated to adopt HPWP, it also is important that the individuals responsible for implementation have the skills and know-how to implement these practices. In many SMEs, this individual is often the employer or entrepreneur, but for larger firms, the management level is generally responsible for the actual implementation. For the successful adoption of HPWP in organisations, it is crucial to have management “on board” and equipped with the right skills to implement these practices.

In consultations with stakeholders, the limited capacity and knowledge at the managerial level (in both private and public organisations) was frequently identified as a barrier to the implementation of HPWP in Poland. This opportunity and the corresponding policy recommendations will therefore explore how to improve the capacity and knowledge of management staff in order to raise skills utilisation. This will involve addressing the development of managerial and entrepreneurial skills both in initial and continuous education.

Supporting the development of managerial skills by strengthening learning opportunities

Strong and effective management has various benefits for firms – it is associated with higher levels of employee engagement, willingness to invest effort in work, and enjoyment of work. Furthermore, there is evidence that managers with more advanced management skills are more likely to innovate, launch new products and services, adopt higher quality-based product market strategies, and be aware of what kind of practices are needed to improve firm performance (UKCES, 2014[44]).

Firms have different types of management staff that require different skills. For larger firms, the levels (and related roles and responsibilities) of management should be taken into account. Strategic HR management at the highest level require skills such as developing new ideas, inspiration of staff and setting out visions, while middle managers who are more responsible for line management need the skills to implement these ideas in the company (UKCES, 2014[44]). For micro-enterprises and SMEs, management is often the owner and entrepreneur. Given the comparatively large share of these smaller firms in Poland, which are also often family businesses, the skills of these types of managers are especially relevant.

A number of studies show that the skills of management in Poland can be improved. The limited number of highly skilled managers is considered one of the main barriers to the growth of Polish firms, and the lack of support from management is a barrier to innovation (Zadura-Lichota, 2015[33]). The Study of Human Capital (BKL) (Górniak, 2018[25]) found that Polish managers often do not have adequate levels of a variety of skills, including assessing own strengths and weaknesses, risk assessment, creativity, ability to change opinions, listening to others and drawing conclusions, and professional skills related to a given sector. Deficiencies of such important managerial skills might hinder the growth of Polish companies. Moreover, over one in four managers (based on the ISCO08 occupation classification) are low-skilled as measured by PIAAC, which is the highest share among PIAAC (2012 round) countries (Figure 4.9). The share of firms with professional management, defined as professional managers chosen for merit and qualifications, is also comparatively low in Poland (World Economic Forum, 2018[45]). These challenges are expected to deepen, since the demand for managers is still high and expected to further increase in the coming years (Cedefop, 2019[46]).

Related to the comparatively low skills of managers is the overall quality of management in Poland. The 2015 European Working Conditions Survey revealed that workers in Poland give a comparatively low ranking to the quality of management (Eurofound, 2019[18]), and fewer than five out of ten workers indicate that management helps and supports them always or most of the time, compared with almost six out of ten in the EU. Based on data from the World Management Survey, the overall quality of management in manufacturing appears to be low compared to other OECD countries (Bloom et al., 2012[47]), especially in domestically owned firms (OECD, 2018[36]). Many Polish firms are not implementing management practices that are considered to have strong workplace outcomes. Only a relatively small share of employers adopted management practices that can be described as “systematic and involving” and “interactive and involving”; however, these are practices that have been demonstrated to result in the highest well-being in workplaces (Eurofound, 2015[22]).

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Figure 4.9. Share of low-skilled managers, 2012
Figure 4.9. Share of low-skilled managers, 2012

Note: Share of managers with at least upper secondary education and aged 20-65, scoring below level two in at least one of the PIAAC proficiency scales, i.e. literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.

Source: OECD (2018[36]), OECD Economic Surveys: Poland, https://doi.org/10.1787/1999060x.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036633

The Polish government is aware of this challenge and has taken action to address this comparatively low performance in management. In recent years, PARP has introduced several promising programmes targeting managers. For instance, the SME Manager Academy (see Box 4.10 for description) finances training and advisory support for SMEs in the area of business management, and PARP and stakeholders emphasised its potential to grow and expand. The Innovation Manager Academy, the co-financing of strategic management, and the PARP Academy are also initiatives with great potential (Box 4.10). Some strategies have sections that address the low levels of managerial skills, such as the 2013 Strategy for Innovation and Efficiency of the Economy (SIEG) as part of the medium-term National Development Strategy 2020. The main objective of the SIEG is the creation of a highly competitive economy based on knowledge and co-operation. The improvement of the managerial skills of enterprises, particularly in SMEs, is a separate objective within this strategy. Related measures include the dissemination of innovative managerial practices in the area of human management, strategic planning, process management, and professionalisation of the manager’s function (MEN, 2013[48]).

There are indications that existing activities can still be expanded. For instance, Polish managers are not actively participating in training and development – PIAAC shows that managers do participate more in adult education and training than employees not in management positions, but the share is low compared to the OECD average (65% in Poland and 71% on average across the OECD) (OECD, 2019[8]). For the initial development of managerial skills, stakeholders during this project indicated that management education is currently insufficient – management skills are only taught as part of larger programmes in universities, vocational schools and training companies.

Feedback from PARP and stakeholders consulted in the course of this project suggests that the current offer of learning opportunities for managers could be improved in a number of ways. First, the accessibility of the training offer could be improved. For most managers, time for training activities is limited, and a flexible training offer could help to raise the current low participation. PARP also sees a potentially larger role for online courses, such as the PARP Academy, which receives positive feedback from managers. Participants also stressed the importance of simplifying the administration and procedures of training, especially the training offer linked to EU financing.

Second, the quality and relevance of the training offer could be improved. Stakeholders indicated the need for individual, targeted and personalised training for management staff, starting with an assessment of the skills needs and with a more prominent role for coaching, possibly making it mandatory. PARP indicates that the training potential could be improved at both the administrative level (e.g. more analysis of needs, monitoring, evaluation) and content level (e.g. quality of trainers, use of modern tools), possibly supported by better guidance services.

Third, the financing of training for managers could be strengthened. In Poland, the KFS is intended to co-finance the training of employees and employers; however, it primarily targets lower skilled workers, as well as micro and small enterprises, and the total funding available is unlikely to be sufficient to support all firms in their training needs. As a result, it is unlikely to become the main source of funding for management training. PARP indicates that it would be necessary to further develop, test and implement different financial schemes to finance the upskilling and reskilling of enterprises, for instance through individual learning accounts, loans or bank guarantees.

A large number of stakeholders consulted during the course of this project noted that the lack of awareness about the benefits of upskilling, reskilling and increasing managerial skills was a main obstacle for the skills development of managers, especially for SMEs. Therefore, it would also be important for Poland to build awareness of the issue of managerial skills through softer regulations. This could include, for instance, a campaign where the concrete benefits of good management practices are presented or where success stories are shared. Additionally, a central platform (e.g. database/website, as proposed in Opportunity 1) with information on practices specifically for management, as well as practical information on how to implement these practices, could help to raise awareness and support change in workplaces. Finally, employer networks (as proposed in Opportunity 2) could play an important role by supporting the exchange of knowledge and best practices between managers. To raise awareness, PARP has proposed strengthening and increasing the impact of the sectoral skills councils, and expanding the involvement of the chambers of commerce and other sectoral organisations.

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Box 4.10. Relevant Polish examples: Programmes by PARP that support management

SME Manager Academy

Launched in 2018, the SME Manager Academy (Akademia Menadżera) is a programme administrated by PARP that finances training and advisory support for managerial staff in SMEs in the area of business management, including HR. Financing is provided for education and training from the BUR, with the aim to 1) diagnose the needs of SMEs and skills gaps of owners and managers; and 2) train SME managers. Education and training services can be financed through the programme if they meet the needs identified in the diagnosis, and are included in the PARP “Description of universal managerial skills”. Financial support provided covers up to 80% of the project, while the remaining 20% is covered by the SME.

The Innovation Manager Academy

The Innovation Manager Academy (Akademia Menadżera Innowacji, AMI) is a programme administrated by PARP that aims to increase the skills and expertise of companies in the field of developing and implementing innovations. The programme is addressed to managers employed by enterprises to help them transfer knowledge, develop skills and form attitudes and behaviours that stimulate innovation. It offers training in the form of theoretical lectures and practical workshops, and provides companies with the support of a consultant and a thematic expert throughout the programme. It also offers an assessment of the company’s innovation, as well as access to the interactive AMI Knowledge Base and to the AMI Alumni network.

Co-financing strategic management

PARP can co-finance strategic management in firms. Entrepreneurs receive support through advisory services provided by experts from employers’ organisations, trade unions and business self-government organisations. The aim is to support the identification of development barriers and draw up a development plan for the company.

PARP Academy

The PARP Academy, launched in 2006, is an e-learning platform that offers 50 free-of-charge online training sessions, tailored to the needs of the SME sector, in four thematic areas related to setting up and running a business (strategic and operational management, managerial and personal skills, marketing and sales, and business environment), including training dedicated to trainers. The PARP Academy also offers short educational forms, for example “knowledge pills”. Since 2006, over 180 000 participants have benefited from the PARP Academy’s training.

Source: PARP (2019[39]), Polish Agency for Enterprise Development website, https://en.parp.gov.pl/.

Recommendations for supporting the development of managerial skills by strengthening learning opportunities

  • Improve managerial skills by raising awareness of their relevance and by expanding existing management training programmes. Expand existing programmes (e.g. the SME Manager Academy and the Innovation Manager Academy by PARP), introduce new specialised programmes for the development of managerial skills, and build awareness of the need for upskilling, reskilling and improving managerial skills through campaigns, sharing of good practices, centralised information and employer networks.

  • Improve the quality, relevance and accessibility of training through targeted and personalised training for management staff at all levels. Training programmes should have a strong emphasis on coaching modules supported by active guidance, and use specialised trainers that have access to modern tools. Accessibility could be enhanced through the simplification of administrative procedures to participate in training and enhanced flexibility of the training offer (e.g. through stimulating online courses). Poland could also explore new financial support measures to support the training of management staff, such as learning accounts, loans or bank guarantees.

Building a strong foundation for managerial and entrepreneurial skills by teaching them in initial education

While there is not a standard definition of entrepreneurial and managerial talent and skills, they are generally considered to be general skills such as the ability to build teams, motivate, communicate, mentor and develop, as well as engage in entrepreneurial activities. To develop these entrepreneurial and managerial skills it is also generally recommended to include soft skills, such as creativity and deep thinking in the learning process (OECD, 2011[49]). The perceptions of stakeholders consulted in workshops and meetings conducted for this project were that a holistic approach to managerial skills that emphasises soft skills, emotional skills and self-organisational skills is desirable.

Not all managerial and entrepreneurial skills can be acquired through learning, training and experience, but there is a general consensus on the need to teach these skills in schools (OECD, 2011[49]). Teaching entrepreneurship in education has the potential to trigger deep learning and stimulate engagement, joy, motivation, confidence and feelings of relevancy among students. There is evidence of positive effects of entrepreneurial teaching on job creation, economic success, and innovation for individuals, organisations and society at large (OECD, 2015[50]). There is growing awareness of the potential of entrepreneurship education to shape the mindsets of young people and to provide the skills, knowledge and attitudes essential for an entrepreneurial culture. As a result, developing and promoting entrepreneurship in education has become a key policy objective for the EU and its member states, with several Nordic countries even developing specific entrepreneurship education strategies (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2016[51]).

Early exposure is essential for the development of managerial and entrepreneurial skills, and there is evidence of a strong correlation between perceived entrepreneurial skills and early stage entrepreneurial activity (OECD, 2011[49]; European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2016[51]). The OECD Skills Strategy supports early exposure to these skills, since building strong foundations in the early stages will support a lifetime of learning, where learning at every stage of the lifecycle builds on learning outcomes and experiences from previous stages (OECD, 2019[2]).

In Poland, there are indications that participation in entrepreneurship education is above the average. In 2012, 30% of respondents to a survey on entrepreneurship said that they had taken part in a course or activity at school related to entrepreneurship – defined as turning ideas into action and developing one's own project – compared with 27% across OECD-EU countries (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2016[51]). Moreover, Poland has an official definition for entrepreneurship education, and related courses are explicitly integrated into the curricula. For instance, in upper secondary education, there is a compulsory subject called “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” that involves students in social and civic activities and develops their creative skills and initiative.

Despite these positive outcomes, the development of managerial and entrepreneurial skills in education can still be improved. There are, for instance, indications that teacher quality in these programmes can be raised. There is no specific provision for entrepreneurship education as part of teacher education (see Box 4.11 for example from Estonia), and participants in workshops and meetings indicated that teachers are seemingly randomly selected to teach “Introduction to Entrepreneurship”. The involvement of enterprise representatives in these courses could be stimulated. Moreover, Poland does not have a strategy for entrepreneurship education, it is only addressed in several broader strategies, including the Lifelong Learning Perspective Strategy. Following the example of a number of Nordic countries (see example of Finland in Box 4.11), Poland could consider developing a specific strategy for entrepreneurship education. Internships could play an important role in the development of these skills, but the current arrangements for internships show room for improvement. Participants in the workshops indicated a need to remove the current age barrier to participate in internships, and to improve the evaluation of internships.

Across EU countries there are several common lessons to improve the teaching of managerial and entrepreneurial skills in education that are relevant for Poland, including introducing comprehensive learning outcomes linked to entrepreneurship education, improving the monitoring of programmes, reducing reliance on EU funding, strengthening guidelines for teaching, and the inclusion of practical entrepreneurial practices (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2016[51]).

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Box 4.11. Relevant international examples: Strategies for teaching managerial and entrepreneurial skills in initial education

Finland’s Guidelines for Entrepreneurship Education strategy

Finland issued its Guidelines for Entrepreneurship Education strategy in 2009. The strategy is supported by a network of 19 regional entrepreneurship education resource centres and aims to support a more entrepreneurial culture, active citizenship and business start-ups. The centres place an emphasis on networking, support and training for and with teachers. Strategy actions have led to large scale projects such as Me & MyCity, which engages with a high share of school learners. The strategy places an emphasis on economic growth, innovation and youth start-ups, highlighting the comparatively low rate of start-ups among under-35s in Finland.

Estonia’s “Be enterprising!” strategy

The objective of the Estonian strategy for entrepreneurship education is to raise awareness of entrepreneurship education, train teachers, provide teaching materials, and allocate resources. Concrete actions include awareness raising activities via events and social networks, the development of materials and instructions for courses (both students and teachers), and an evaluation system. The strategy includes a map of entrepreneurial learning outcomes and focuses on integrating these into curricula. Entrepreneurship education is explicitly referred to in the curricula as a general skill, a cross-curricular objective in ISCED 1-3, and is taught in several optional and compulsory subjects.

Note: ISCED is the International Standard Classification of Education.

Source: European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2016[51]), Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe, http://dx.doi.org/10.2797/301610.

Recommendation for building a strong foundation for managerial and entrepreneurial skills by teaching them in initial education

  • Expand and strengthen current programmes that aim to develop managerial and entrepreneurial skills in the education system. Build on current programmes (e.g. Introduction to Entrepreneurship), strengthen internship programmes and make them more accessible, and potentially develop a strategy specifically for developing managerial and entrepreneurial skills in the education system. Improve the quality of teachers in entrepreneurship education, including by more actively involving representatives of enterprises in the teaching and design of courses. Promote and share best practices of co-operation between enterprises and schools at all levels of education and among all those involved, including pupils, parents, teachers and local authorities.

Opportunity 4: Engaging employees effectively to implement high-performance workplace practices

Employee engagement reflects the willingness of employees to invest effort in their work and the enjoyment they get from their work. It can be enabled through various practices, including clear leadership, listening to employees and organisational integrity (UKCES, 2014[44]). Various studies show that employee engagement is one of the main contributors to skills use and productivity. Strengthening employee engagement by involving them in company decisions on the modernisation of work organisation and management practices could be considered a viable option to encourage a better use of skills in the workplace (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]).

This opportunity and the corresponding policy recommendations will include both informal and formal approaches to raise employee engagement. By involving employees in firms’ decision making, and by raising overall job quality, employees are likely to be more engaged in their firm. More formal employee representative structures can also play an important role in influencing firms’ investment in staff, with large potential benefits for employee engagement.

Enhancing employee engagement in Polish firms by involving them in company decision making and improving overall job quality

Various studies and surveys show that employee engagement can be improved in Poland. A relatively small share of employees feel regularly involved in improving their work organisation and processes, or in influencing decisions relevant for their work (Figure 4.10) (Eurofound, 2015[22]), and for 63% of firms the decision-making process for daily tasks is top-down. It is also not common practice to have regular meetings where employees can express their views about what is happing in the organisation – 36% of Polish workers have these meetings, compared with 55% in the EU.

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Figure 4.10. Involvement of employees in the improvement of work, 2015
Distribution of answers to the question “Are you involved in improving the work organisation or work processes of the department or organisation?” OECD-EU countries
Figure 4.10. Involvement of employees in the improvement of work, 2015

Source: Eurofound (2019[18]), European Working Conditions Survey 2015, www.eurofound.europa.eu/surveys/european-working-conditions-surveys/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036652

To improve the involvement and engagement of employees, Polish employers should aim for “high road strategies”, where employees and the skills they possess are viewed as an integral part of a business’s competitive advantage, rather than “low road” strategies, where labour is considered a commodity and workers are seen as a cost to be minimised. High road strategies also entail higher quality jobs, and many dimensions of job quality are proven to be positively associated with the better performance of employees in terms of skills use and productivity (OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). Based on discussions and conversations as part of this project, the absence of high road strategies in many Polish firms appears to be an issue. Participants in workshops and meetings indicated that employees are regularly not appreciated, not trusted and not respected by employers and management staff, which negatively affects employee satisfaction and their performance. Worryingly, one in four workers feel that a large part of their work is not useful – after Turkey, Poland has the largest share in the EU who say this – and one in five workers indicate that they do not get the recognition they deserve for their work (Eurofound, 2019[18]).

There are signs that job quality is a concern for Poland (see an example of how to improve job quality in Box 4.12), with workshop participants, when surveyed, ranking a preliminary recommendation on improving job quality of highest importance in Poland. This finding is supported by a number of surveys – for instance, around one in three employees work more than 40 hours per week, 59% of workers occasionally work weekends at least once per month, and routine work is comparatively common, with more than half of workers indicating that they perform monotonous tasks (Eurofound, 2019[18]).

Large differences exist between different groups of employees. The Study of Human Capital in Poland (BKL) 2014 shows that satisfaction with conditions for performing work, promotion opportunities, and the possibilities for personal development and training are strongly related to the level of education. Adults with tertiary education are most satisfied with these elements of their job, while adults with basic vocational education and lower secondary education are the least satisfied (Górniak, 2015[52]).

Firm size is also strongly linked to employee engagement and job quality – it is five times more likely that a large enterprise will invest in its employees than a micro-enterprise. The average weak performance across measures of employee engagement is therefore also partly the result of the large share of micro-enterprises in Poland. Sectoral differences are also profound – a high probability of investment in employees is seen among companies operating in education, healthcare, and specialised services sectors, while traditional sectors such as industry, construction, hotels and mining lag behind (Górniak, 2015[52]).

For Poland specifically, the issue of job quality is strongly related with the type of contract of the employee. Despite improvements, Poland has one of the largest share of workers with temporary contracts in the OECD, especially for the young and the low skilled. While non-standard work has benefits, in Poland these workers tend to suffer from a wage penalty and low job security and quality compared to workers on permanent contracts with otherwise similar characteristics. Both PIAAC and post-PIAAC studies demonstrate that fixed contract jobs and temporary agency jobs adopt HPWP to a much lower extent than employees in jobs under indefinite contracts (Chłoń-Domińczak and Palczyńska, 2015[53]).

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Box 4.12. Relevant international example: Improving job quality

Scottish Business Pledge

In Scotland, employers can sign up for the Scottish Business Pledge if they pay a living wage and meet the requirements of at least two other pledge elements (and make a commitment to meeting the other requirements over the long term): not using exploitative zero hours contracts; supporting progressive workforce engagement; investing in youth; making progress on diversity and gender balance; committing to an innovation programme; pursuing international business opportunities; and playing an active role in the community. As of April 2016, almost 250 businesses had signed up for the pledge, accounting for over 57 000 Scottish jobs.

Source: OECD (2016[14]), Employment and Skills Strategies in Poland, OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264256521-en.

Recommendation for enhancing employee engagement in Polish firms by involving them in company decision making and improving overall job quality

  • Promote employers investing in their employees for the long term by moving towards “high road strategies” where employee skills are considered an integral part of a business’s competitive advantage. The Polish government, labour offices, employer organisations and others should aim to raise respect and trust in employees, and improve the job satisfaction of Polish workers, including by setting and enforcing higher labour standards and by motivating employers to raise job quality (e.g. with a business pledge), especially for low-educated workers, smaller firms, traditional sectors and workers on temporary contracts. Address the low levels of employee engagement by improving employees involvement in firm decision making, including by promoting regular meetings where employees can express their views about what is happening in the firm.

Strengthening employee representative structures in Polish firms

Employee representative structures can play an important role in influencing firms’ investment in staff. Data from PIAAC show that institutions with strong collective bargaining and unionisation are associated with a higher utilisation of workers’ skills in the workplace (OECD, 2016[6]; OECD/ILO, 2017[10]). Furthermore, economic theory suggests that there are positive economic effects related to works councils. Although empirical research is limited and with mixed results, it does show that there are positive effects of exchange of information, consultation and employee participation linked to works councils (CESifo, 2015[54]).

In Poland, there are signs that employee representative structures can be strengthened. One in four workers indicate that there is a trade union, works council or a similar committee representing employees in their company, compared with one in two workers in the EU, and only Turkey has a lower share in the EU (Figure 4.11). The share of firms with direct employee participation that is extensive and supported by the employer is only average, and overall trust in employee representation is low (Eurofound, 2019[18]).

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Figure 4.11. Representation of employees in Polish firms, 2015
Distribution of answers to the question “Does your organisation have a trade union, works council or similar committee representing employees?” OECD-EU countries.
Figure 4.11. Representation of employees in Polish firms, 2015

Source: Eurofound (2019[18]), European Working Conditions Survey 2015, www.eurofound.europa.eu/surveys/european-working-conditions-surveys/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036671

In Poland, the main bodies for employee involvement in firms are the works councils in both state-owned enterprises (Rady pracownicza) and private enterprises (Rada pracowników). Introduced in 2006, these bodies used for informing and consulting employees can be established in companies with more than 50 employees. Unfortunately, the works councils have not succeeded in promoting social dialogue and creating a strong institution for employee participation. Their role in Polish industrial relations remains negligible – only approximately 2% of Polish enterprises have adopted them (Skorupinska, 2015[55]). Box 4.13 presents international examples of works councils.

In addition to works councils, there are a number of trade unions that represent employees in almost all sectors. However, only 12% of employees belong to a trade union in Poland, one of the lowest shares in the EU and OECD (OECD, 2019[56]). Trade unions do participate actively in negotiations at the national level, with three federations of trade unions meeting criteria of national representativeness. These federations participate, for instance, in the Labour Market Council (Rada Rynku Pracy) – where trade unions and employer organisations set the priorities for funding – and in the Social Dialogue Council (Rada Dialogu Społecznego, RDS) – the main tripartite body for social dialogue at the national level.

In Poland there is a widespread use of forms of direct participation in firms, but the scope and distribution have less intensity. The main motives for introducing forms of direct participation in enterprises were economic (productivity), and the primary benefit was an improvement in the quality of products and services (Skorupinska, 2015[55]).

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Box 4.13. Relevant international examples: Employee representative structures in firms

European works councils

Since 1994, European works councils have represented the European employees of a company. Through them, workers are informed and consulted by management on the progress of the business and any significant decisions at the European level that could affect their employment or working conditions. European works councils can be formed in companies or groups of companies with at least 1 000 employees in the EU, and in the other countries of the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) when there are at least 150 employees in each of two member states. The councils can be formed following a request by 100 employees from two countries or following an initiative by the employer, with the composition and functioning of each council adapted to the company’s specific situation. In 2008, the directive for European works councils was changed in order to ensure the effectiveness of employee transnational information and consultation rights, increase the number of councils, and enable the continuous functioning of existing councils.

Works councils in Germany

In Germany, the most important employee representative body is the works council (Betriebsrat). In establishments with more than five regularly employed employees who are eligible to vote, a works council can be elected, with the size of the works council depending on the size of the firm. The formation of a works council is not mandatory for employees, and the initiative must come from the employees or the unions, with the employer bearing the costs of the works council to perform its duties. Works councils are set up especially in medium size and large enterprises, and more rarely in small enterprises: councils are organised in 97.5% of firms with more than 1 000 workers, and in 4.2% of firms with 5 to 20 employees. The works council has general information and consultation rights under the Works Constitution Act. To perform its duties, it must have an established dialogue with the employer, and together they can agree on work agreements, which are binding for all employees. These work agreements are a special type of contract regarding the working conditions of individual employees, with the same direct and binding effect on individual employment relationships as statutory law.

Source: European Commission (2019[57]), Employee involvement – European Works Councils, https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=707&langId=en&intPageId=211; DICE Database (2015[58]), Workplace Representation – Legal Basis and Thresholds, http://www.ces-munich.de/de/ifoHome/facts/DICE/Labour-Market/Labour-Market/Unions-Wage-Bargaining-Labour-Relations/Workplace-representation-legal-basis-thresholds.html.

Recommendation for expanding and strengthening employee representative structures in Polish firms

  • Expand and strengthen the role of current employee representative structures, most notably the works councils in both state-owned (Rady pracownicza) and private enterprises (Rada pracowników). To improve the engagement of employees in Polish firms, the Polish government should consider making legislative changes for works councils and other types of employee representation to ensure that they become more active and effective, including by removing barriers to their formation. Moreover, government, employer organisations and other stakeholders should raise awareness of the benefits of works councils by providing information and sharing good practices, and aim to improve the overall trust in these structures.

copy the linklink copied!Overview of recommendations

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Opportunity 1: Raising awareness of the relevance of effective skills use and related HPWP

Including the topic of skills use in workplaces and the adoption of HPWP in national, regional and sectoral strategies

  • Put skills use and HPWP on the policy agenda by including them more explicitly and more prominently in strategies with targeted, measurable actions.

Disseminating knowledge and good practices on HPWP through targeted campaigns and centralised online information

  • Use targeted online campaigns on skills use and workplace practices and publicly recognise successful enterprises and organisations.

  • Introduce a centralised portal or website on innovative workplace practices that raise skills use.

Opportunity 2: Supporting enterprises and organisations to adopt HPWP

Supporting firms, especially SMEs, to adopt HPWP

  • Enhance and expand support measures for firms by PARP, sectoral skills councils and other organisations through the funding of organisational innovation and access to expert consultation and coaching.

  • Ensure accessibility of support measures by reducing administrative complexity and through the creation of a centralised portal.

Leveraging employer networks and supporting collaboration at the sector level to promote the adoption of HPWP

  • Raise the involvement of employers from micro-enterprises and SMEs in collaborative initiatives at the national, local and sectoral level to catalyse change in workplaces.

  • Improve the effectiveness and increase the impact of existing networks and collaborative initiatives.

Ensuring a leading role for the public sector in the effective use of skills and the adoption of HPWP

  • Raise the use of skills and the adoption of HPWP in the public sector by promoting a culture of innovation and knowledge.

Opportunity 3: Equipping management staff with the right skills to implement HPWP

Supporting the development of managerial skills by strengthening learning opportunities

  • Improve managerial skills by raising awareness of their relevance and by expanding existing management training programmes.

  • Improve the quality, relevance and accessibility of training through targeted and personalised training for management staff at all levels.

Building a strong foundation for managerial and entrepreneurial skills by teaching them in initial education

  • Expand and strengthen current programmes that aim to develop managerial and entrepreneurial skills in the education system.

Opportunity 4: Engaging employees effectively to implement HPWP

Enhancing employee engagement in Polish firms by involving them in company decision making and improving overall job quality

  • Promote employers investing in their employees for the long term by moving towards “high road strategies” where employee skills are considered an integral part of a business’s competitive advantage.

Strengthening employee representative structures in Polish firms

  • Expand and strengthen the role of current employee representative structures, most notably the works councils in both state-owned (Rady pracownicza) and private enterprises (Rada pracowników).

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