copy the linklink copied!2. Making the education system more responsive to labour market needs

Making the education system more responsive to labour market needs can help support the employability of recent graduates, minimise skills imbalances and improve the resilience of the workforce to future changes in labour market demand. This chapter explores four opportunities to improve the responsiveness of the education system: 1) expanding career counselling services in education institutions; 2) strengthening incentives for education institutions to align their offer with labour market needs; 3) improving incentives and support for effective teaching; and 4) strengthening collaboration between education institutions and employers.

    

copy the linklink copied!The importance of a responsive education system for Poland

A responsive education system allows students to develop a set of skills aligned with labour market needs in the short and long term (OECD, 2015[1]). This can be beneficial for individuals and the economy as a whole in three different ways, discussed below.

If the education system is responsive to short-term labour market needs, recent graduates face stronger employability prospects (OECD, 2015[1]). This leads to higher employment rates when students leave education to join the labour force, and can improve well-being later on in life by helping to avoid “scarring effects”. This is a situation where individuals exposed to unemployment after finishing education face a higher risk of unemployment and lower well-being as they grow older (Arulampalam, Gregg and Gregory, 2001[2]; Strandh et al., 2014[3])

In ensuring that graduates have skills consistent with labour market demand, a responsive education system can also reduce skills imbalances, i.e. skills shortages and skills mismatches (OECD, 2019[4]). Skills mismatches and shortages can be costly for firms and the economy as a whole through their effects on increased labour costs, lower labour productivity growth, slower adoption of new technologies and lost production associated with vacancies remaining unfilled (OECD, 2016[5]). Skills mismatches are also costly for individuals and can lead to lower job satisfaction and lower earnings (OECD, 2016[5]). For instance, over-qualified workers in Poland earn on average 25% less than workers who are well matched (Montt, 2015[6]).

When the education system is responsive to future labour market needs, graduates are more resilient to future changes in the patterns of job creation. Future dynamics in job creation are inherently uncertain, but they are likely to be driven by megatrends such as globalisation, digitalisation, population ageing, migration and climate change. Education systems can prepare graduates for these megatrends by equipping them with strong foundational skills so that they can upskill and reskill throughout their lives (OECD, 2019[4]).

Assessing the responsiveness of the education system is not a straightforward exercise. The approach taken in this chapter is discussed in Box 2.1.

Improving the responsiveness of the education system has been a key challenge for Poland in recent years, as has been highlighted in several national policy planning documents: the Strategy for Responsible Development (Strategia na rzecz Odpowiedzialnego Rozwoju), the Integrated Skills Strategy (Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności) and the Human Capital Development Strategy (Strategia rozwoju kapitalu ludzkiego). Better alignment of education and training to labour market needs has been recognised as one of the biggest challenges in the European Commission’s Partnership Agreement with Poland on the strategic use of EU Structural and Investment Funds between 2014 and 2020 (MIiR, 2014[7]).

Improving the responsiveness of the education system requires the co-ordinated effort of several actors in the skills system. International evidence suggests that career guidance, effective funding arrangements for education institutions, high teaching quality and collaboration with employers are crucial to improve the responsiveness of the education system (OECD, 2015[1]; OECD, 2019[4]). All stages of the education system have a role to play. Compulsory education should allow students to develop strong foundational skills and positive attitudes towards learning, and post-compulsory education should further consolidate these skills and equip students with job-specific skills (OECD, 2019[4]).

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Box 2.1. Assessing the responsiveness of the education system

The responsiveness of the education system is assessed through three sets of key indicators, which reflect the three dimensions where the responsiveness of the education system should have an impact: 1) employability of recent graduates; 2) extent of skills imbalances; and 3) skills levels of recent graduates. The table below provides an overview of their advantages and limitations (Table 2.1). The next section of this report that covers performance also relies on additional evidence from Polish or international sources to complement the insights derived from these key indicators, in order to overcome their potential limitations.

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Table 2.1. Key indicators to assess the responsiveness of the education system

Dimension

Indicator

Advantages and limitations

Employability of recent graduates

Employment rates of recent vocational education and training (VET) and tertiary graduates from Eurostat. Recent graduates are defined as 15-34 years-olds who are not in education and training, but who have completed their highest education in the last three years.

The employability of recent graduates should be more sensitive than that of older workers to the performance of the education system.

The employability will be influenced by several other factors, including the economic structure and the overall profile of supply/demand for different occupations.

Skills imbalances

Overall skills needs indicator (shortages and surpluses) from the OECD Skills for Jobs database.

Shortages indicate that the demand for certain skills exceed the supply, and surpluses indicate that the supply exceeds the demand.

The presence of shortages and surpluses can provide an indication of whether the education system is providing graduates with skills consistent with labour market demand.

However, several other factors (technological change, labour market policies, emigration) will affect labour market demand.

Qualification mismatch from the OECD Skills for Jobs database for younger workers (aged 25 to 34).

Qualification mismatch arises when workers have an educational attainment that is higher (over qualification) or lower (under qualification) than that required by their job.

As above, the focus on younger workers (who have graduated more recently) allows to better capture the role of the education system.

OECD Skills for Jobs provides the most recent cross-country data on mismatch, but the field-of-study indicator is unavailable for Poland.

Skills mismatch is affected by other factors, including whether employers use skills effectively (see Chapter 4).

Skills levels of recent graduates

Performance in literacy, numeracy and problem solving for recent VET and higher education (HE) graduates from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) 2012/2015.

Recent graduates are defined 25-34 years-old individuals who have VET (ISCED level 3 and level 4) and HE (ISCED levels 6-8) qualifications as their highest education.

As above, the education system should have a greater impact on the skills of recent graduates. The focus is on individuals aged 25-34 as in the Skills Strategy Dashboard presented in Chapter 1.

PIAAC 2012/2015 provides the latest available cross-country data on foundational skills. However, more recent data would be valuable to better capture the latest changes within the education system.

Note: ISCED is the International Standard Classification of Education.

Source: OECD (2015[1]), OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills and Employability, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264234178-en; OECD (2017[8]), Getting Skills Right: Skills for Jobs Indicators, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264277878-en; OECD (2019[4]), OECD Skills Strategy 2019: Skills to Shape a Better Future, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264313835-en.

As outlined in Chapter 1, Poland has been relatively successful in equipping students with strong foundational skills in compulsory education. This chapter focuses on the responsiveness of initial vocational education and training (VET) institutions (International Standard Classification of Education [ISCED] levels 3-4) and higher education institutions (HEI) (ISCED levels 6-8). It provides an overview of current arrangements and performance indicators for the responsiveness of the education system in Poland and presents four opportunities for improving the responsiveness of the education system, which are consistent with international best practice:

  1. 1. Expanding career counselling services in education institutions.

  2. 2. Strengthening incentives for education institutions to align their offer with labour market needs.

  3. 3. Improving incentives and support for effective teaching.

  4. 4. Strengthening collaboration between education institutions and employers.

copy the linklink copied!Overview and performance of the responsiveness of initial VET and tertiary education systems in Poland

Overview of the current arrangements in initial VET and tertiary education

In Poland, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) is responsible for initial VET policy, whereas the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW) and the Polish Accreditation Agency (PKA) are in charge of higher education policy. VET schools offer ISCED level 3 and level 4 qualifications, which were changed by extensive reforms in 2016. Higher education is delivered mostly in public institutions, and a recent change in the funding arrangements will create a distinction between academic (akademickie) and professional (zawodowe) institutions.

Arrangements in initial VET

In Poland, the MEN is responsible for initial VET policy. It develops the core curricula, the general rules on career counselling, the principles for the assessments of learning outcomes in external examinations (through an independent commission, the Central Examination Board [Centralna Komisja Egzaminacyjna]), and the principles of work-based learning arrangements. School governing authorities (organy prowadzące) are responsible for managing VET schools. The counties (powiats) are the school governing authority for the majority of VET schools. The remaining schools are managed by the central government (e.g. vocational and fine arts schools) and by non-public bodies, such as religious and social associations (Chłoń-Domińczak, Holzer-Żelażewska and Maliszewska, 2019[9]). The main responsibilities of the VET schools are deciding the local level provision, adjusting the curricula to reflect local needs, organising work-based learning activities and organising career counselling services for students.

To better decide local level provision and adjust the curricula, VET schools are required to collaborate with regional labour market councils (Wojewódzkie Rady Rynku Pracy) and local labour market councils (Powiatowe Rady Rynku Pracy). The councils provide feedback on proposals for new programmes to be taught in VET schools. The councils are also responsible for providing information to the counties on different aspects of labour market and skills policies (see Chapter 5).

In principle, VET schools can organise learning activities for the development of job-relevant technical skills in three forms: school-based workshops with teachers, practical training within centres for vocational education and work-based learning (including in apprenticeships) with employers. Traditionally, most VET schools in Poland have relied on school-based workshops, whereas work-based learning has remained less common.

The main source of funding for initial VET in Poland is the general subsidy from the State budget (Chłoń-Domińczak, Holzer-Żelażewska and Maliszewska, 2019[9]). The MEN distributes the subsidy through a formula, which specifies the amount of per capita funding on the basis of the type of programme (e.g. the subject) and the characteristics of the students (e.g. whether the student has a disability). Following some recent changes in 2019 (discussed in Opportunity 2), the formula also reflects the demand for specific occupations and training costs for specific jobs.

Poland introduced substantial reforms of primary and secondary education in 2016, which are currently being implemented. Before the introduction of these reforms, there were three main types of school providing VET:

  • Basic vocational schools (zasadnicze szkoły zawodowe): led to ISCED level 3 vocational qualifications only, for students aged 16 to 19 years.

  • Secondary technical schools (technika): led to ISCED level 3 vocational qualifications and to the maturity certificate (matura) providing access to higher education for students aged 16 to 20 years.

  • Post-secondary non-tertiary schools (szkoły policealne): provided ISCED level 4 programmes of 2.5 years and were mainly intended for students aged 19 to 20/21 years who had finished general upper secondary school.

The new reforms transform secondary technical schools into five-year technical secondary schools for students aged 15 to 20 years, and basic vocational schools into three-year stage I sectoral vocational school (szkoła branżowa I stopnia) for students aged 15 to 18 years. Students attending a three-year stage I sectoral vocational school can then join the labour market or attend a newly designed two-year stage II sectoral vocational school (szkoła branżowa II stopnia), offering the opportunity to take the matura exam.

In addition to these reforms, Poland has introduced a new regulation (discussed in Opportunity 1) to improve the provision and quality of career guidance offered by VET schools, and has introduced changes to the Law on Higher Education and Science (discussed in Opportunity 4) to strengthen collaboration between VET schools and employers.

In Poland, approximately 45% of secondary graduates attend VET schools (Table 2.2). This proportion has remained roughly stable over the past five years, but has significantly decreased since the 1990s, reflecting an increase in the tertiary attainment rate. Most secondary VET students attend secondary technical schools, as opposed to basic vocational schools.

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Table 2.2. VET graduates and school types in the 2016/17 school year

School type

ISCED level

Number of graduates

Number of schools

Secondary technical schools

ISCED level 3

114 967

1 890

Basic vocational schools

ISCED level 3

49 563

1 504

General secondary schools (Licea ogólnokształcące)

ISCED level 3

202 068

3 717

Post-secondary non-tertiary schools

ISCED level 4

70 409

2 167

Source: GUS (2018[10]), Education in the 2017/18 school year, https://stat.gov.pl/obszary-tematyczne/edukacja/edukacja/oswiata-i-wychowanie-w-roku-szkolnym-20172018,1,13.html.

Arrangements in tertiary education

Consistent with other OECD countries, HEIs in Poland have a significant degree of autonomy in introducing new study programmes, setting caps on the number of students and establishing internal quality assurance mechanisms. HEIs also establish and provide financing for academic career counselling centres.

The MNiSW and the PKA are responsible for funding and regulating HEIs. The MNiSW distributes funding through a formula, as well as additional competitive financing. The MNiSW also establishes minimum salaries for different academic positions, and in some cases decides on the introduction of new study programmes in HEIs.

The PKA provides an evaluation of the quality of teaching at all Polish HEIs through a programme assessment and a complex assessment. The programme assessment focuses on the quality of teaching in a given field of study, whereas the complex assessment concerns all the fields of study taught at the HEI and focuses on the effectiveness of quality assurance mechanisms.

There are more than 400 registered HEIs in Poland, which produced almost 400 000 graduates in the 2016/17 academic year (Table 2.3). There has been a rapid increase in the number of students enrolling in tertiary education over the last 20 years. The tertiary attainment rate has increased from being one of the lowest in the OECD, to being above the OECD average (OECD, 2018[11]).

Approximately two-thirds of HEIs are private institutions, but public institutions account for more than three-quarters of graduates (Table 2.3). Full-time university education in public HEIs is generally free of charge, while fee-based programmes in both public and private HEIs are usually part-time (OECD, 2016[12]). Public universities are generally the most selective and have a better reputation than their private counterparts (OECD, 2016[12]). Among public universities, there are 35 public higher vocational schools (Państwowe Wyższe Szkoły Zawodowe, PWSZ) that have a special role in regional development as they are supposed to align their educational offering with regional needs. In particular, PWSZs are supposed to offer professionally oriented programmes in co-operation with local employers (European Commission, 2017[13]).

The requirements for collaboration with employers vary across different types of institutions. Legislation mandates that private HEIs have an advisory body called convention with at least 50% of members representing the socio-economic environment. It can include representatives from local government, businesses and employer organisations. Among public HEIs, public higher vocational schools have an obligation to include regional representation in their governance (European Commission, 2017[13]).

Until recently, the other public HEIs have only had advisory boards including representatives from local government and businesses (European Commission, 2017[13]). However, the new Law on Higher Education and Science introduces the university council as the main governing body, which is required to have at least 50% of its members from outside the given institution.

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Table 2.3. HE graduates and institution type in 2016/17 school year

Institution type

Number of graduates

Number of institutions

Public (Szkoły publiczne)

297 274

145

Private (Szkoły niepubliczne)

90 257

267

Source: GUS (2018[14]), Higher Education Institutions and their finances in 2017, https://stat.gov.pl/en/topics/education/education/higher-education-institutions-and-their-finances-in-2017,2,11.html.

Recent changes in the funding formula (discussed in Opportunities 2 and 3) draw a distinction between academic (akademickie) and professional (zawodowe) HEIs. Academic HEIs conduct scientific research and award PhD degrees, as well as first, second and long-cycle programmes. Professional HEIs only provide first, second and long-cycle programmes.

Poland’s performance

The key indicators and the complementary evidence suggest that the initial VET system has struggled in securing strong employability for recent graduates, despite shortages among occupations that require VET graduates. The higher education system has been more successful in securing employability, but recent graduates frequently work in occupations that do not require a tertiary degree and do not always possess job-relevant skills. The key indicators also show that VET and HEIs have only been partially successful at equipping graduates with strong foundational skills.

Employability of recent graduates

The employment prospects of Polish graduates differ by level of education (Figure 2.1). The employment rate for recent VET graduates has increased in line with the economic cycle to converge around the EU average. However, it has remained consistently below that of countries with a comparable economic structure and labour demand, such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Slovak Republic. Conversely, tertiary graduates in Poland have experienced a relatively high employment rate, which is ahead of the EU average, Hungary and the Slovak Republic.

A comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the VET system by the Polish Supreme Audit Office (NIK) linked the low employability of VET graduates to a lack of responsiveness in the system, caused by inefficient funding and organisational structures (Supreme Audit Office, 2016[15]).

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Figure 2.1. Employment rate for recent graduates (one to three years since completion of highest education)
Figure 2.1. Employment rate for recent graduates (one to three years since completion of highest education)

Note: Graduates aged 15-34, who are not in education and training, but who have completed their highest education in the last three years.

Source: Eurostat (2019), Transition from education to work database: Employment rates of young people not in education and training, https://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=edat_lfse_24&lang=en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036215

Skills imbalances

The key indicators on skills imbalances confirm that the VET system has not been entirely responsive to labour market needs and show that the tertiary system has not always enabled graduates to find a good match in the labour market.

According to the OECD Skills for Jobs database, Poland is experiencing stronger shortages of technical skills than the OECD average (Figure 2.2).

The responsiveness of the education system likely plays a substantial role in driving shortages of technical skills. According to the High Priority Mismatch Occupations review by Cedefop, the shortages for information and communication technology (ICT) specialists and science and engineering professionals are driven by the fact that tertiary education is not always tailored to labour market needs, whereas shortages for skilled manual workers are explained by the lack of a well-developed system of professional training (Skills Panorama, 2016[16]).

However, other factors are crucial to explain the observed shortages, most importantly the activation framework for older workers, and emigration (Skills Panorama, 2016[16]; European Commission, 2019[17]).

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Figure 2.2. Shortages and surpluses across skills and abilities
Figure 2.2. Shortages and surpluses across skills and abilities

Note: Positive values indicate shortages, while negative values indicate surpluses. An indicator value of +1 represents the maximum value across countries in the database, while a value of -1 represents the lowest value.

Source: OECD (2017[8]), OECD Skills for Jobs (database), www.oecdskillsforjobsdatabase.org.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036234

According to OECD Skills for Jobs data, many recent tertiary graduates in Poland are over-qualified for their jobs (Figure 2.3). Overall, Poland does not display relatively high levels of under qualification and over qualification among younger workers. However, recent tertiary graduates in Poland are more likely to be over-qualified than recent tertiary graduates in other EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Across most countries, recent graduates are more likely to be over-qualified than older graduates, reflecting the fact that it might take some time for them to find a good match in the job market (OECD, 2017[8]). However, Poland displays the fourth largest differential in over qualification between recent and older graduates across EU/EEA countries, and the largest differential among Visegrad countries.

These results could be driven by the responsiveness of the tertiary education system. Recent graduates might have problems finding a good match in the labour market as they do not have the full set of skills that employers require. However, over qualification in Poland could also arise because employers are unable to use the skills of their workforce effectively (see Chapter 4).

In addition to the qualification mismatch indicator, the OECD Skills for Jobs database has a field-of-study mismatch indicator; however, data are not available for Poland. The results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) suggest that Poland has levels of field-of study mismatch slightly above the OECD average and other Visegrad countries (OECD, 2016[18]). The responsiveness of the education system could contribute to field-of-study mismatch. VET and HE institutions might not be fully successful at equipping graduates with relevant subject-specific knowledge.

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Figure 2.3. Qualification mismatch among younger workers and tertiary graduates
Figure 2.3. Qualification mismatch among younger workers and tertiary graduates

Note: The sample was restricted to EU/EEA countries for this particular indicator, due to data availability. Younger workers include individuals aged 25-34.

Source: OECD calculations based on OECD (2017[8]), OECD Skills for Jobs (database), www.oecdskillsforjobsdatabase.org.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036253

The skill levels of recent graduates

The education system in Poland has struggled to provide VET and HE graduates with strong foundational skills. Recent VET graduates display substantially lower skill levels in literacy, numeracy and problem solving, whereas recent HE graduates underperform in numeracy and problem solving (Figure 2.4).

The average scores of VET graduates in numeracy and literacy are 20 points lower than average scores across OECD countries, and 30 points lower than average scores in other Visegrad countries. These differences are substantial. Across OECD countries, leaving the education system without an upper secondary (ISCED level 3) qualification is associated with a difference of 40 points in literacy scores (OECD, 2016[18]). VET graduates are also less likely to achieve high scores (above level 2/3) in problem solving.

Recent Polish tertiary graduates perform relatively strongly in literacy. However, their average scores in numeracy are slightly lower than average across OECD countries, and roughly 20 points lower than average in other Visegrad countries. Similarly, 47% of Polish graduates achieve high scores in problem solving, compared to 61% of graduates across OECD countries, 57% of graduates in the Slovak Republic and 78% of graduates in the Czech Republic. The relative underperformance of tertiary graduates could also contribute to explaining over qualification: tertiary graduates might be over-qualified when they join the labour market as they fall short of the level of skills required for high-skilled occupations.

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Figure 2.4. Skills levels of recent VET and HE graduates
Figure 2.4. Skills levels of recent VET and HE graduates

Note: Data for Hungary are not available as Hungary did not participate in the survey.

Source: OECD calculations based on OECD (2018[19]), Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC) (2012, 2015) (database), www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036272

copy the linklink copied!Opportunities to make initial VET and tertiary education systems more responsive

This chapter describes four opportunities to make the education system more responsive to labour market needs. The opportunities are consistent with international best practice, but were selected based on input from literature, discussions with the National Project Team, and feedback from government and stakeholder representatives consulted during the two workshops and focus groups (i.e. participants in workshops and focus groups). As a result, the four opportunities are considered to be the most relevant for the specific Polish context:

  1. 1. Expanding career counselling services in education institutions.

  2. 2. Strengthening incentives for education institutions to align their offer with labour market needs.

  3. 3. Improving incentives and support for effective teaching.

  4. 4. Strengthening collaboration between education institutions and employers.

Opportunity 1: Expanding career counselling services in education institutions

Effective career counselling is a crucial element of a responsive education system as it helps students to make study and employment choices that are aligned with labour market needs (OECD, 2015[1]). To improve the responsiveness of the initial VET and HE systems in Poland, it is crucial to provide effective counselling across all schools (including primary schools and general secondary schools) and in HEIs.

Effective counselling within VET schools and HEIs can help students find a good match in the labour market, which increases the employability of VET graduates and lowers mismatch among tertiary graduates. Effective counselling in primary schools could support students and their families in better understanding the VET offering (especially in the context of recent reforms), while effective counselling in general secondary schools can help with the choice of university.

Establishing career counselling services in education institutions remains a challenge across all levels of education. A new regulation in 2018 introduced improvements in primary and secondary schools, but it will need to be complemented and supported by additional measures. HEIs are autonomous in conducting career guidance services, but the MNiSW can influence provision through funding and regulatory requirements.

This opportunity only focuses on career counselling services in education institutions, but there is a strong connection with the establishment of an integrated system of lifelong guidance (see Chapter 5), which should foster co-operation among the different career guidance services available in Poland.

Complementing career counselling reforms in schools

In Poland, the use of career guidance services by students in schools has generally been low. Survey data suggest that only one in five students seeks career advice, most frequently from parents and other family members (MEN, 2011[20]). The low reliance on career advice mirrors inadequate supply and quality in the system of career guidance in schools.

In 2015, the Educational Research Institute (Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych, IBE) surveyed over 1 000 Polish primary and secondary schools and found that only about 15% employ a full-time career counsellor. In 80% of cases the duties were performed by a person for whom counselling was not the main task and who had no specific training in career guidance. Frequently, career guidance counsellors worked at the same time as a pedagogue or teacher in the school (Podwójcic, 2015[21]). The range of services offered was also limited. Parents did not effectively engage in career counselling, especially in basic vocational institutions. Across all VET schools, co-operation with employers was weak. Only 17% of basic vocational and 15% of technical schools declared that employers or their associations supported the school in the area of career counselling (Podwójcic, 2015[21]).

Poland introduced a new regulation in 2018 to strengthen the provision and quality of vocational guidance and counselling in schools and pre-schools. In accordance with the new regulations, vocational guidance and counselling will be carried out in a systematic way across all levels of education, but the forms and programme content will vary depending on the education level.

In the final years of primary school (ISCED 2), in secondary schools (ISCED 3) and in post-secondary non-tertiary schools (ISCED 4) career guidance will be based on vocational guidance activities that aim to support students in selecting the next stage of their education and occupation. All schools need to develop their intra-school annual vocational guidance programmes that specify content, methods and forms of implementation, and ways to co-operate with stakeholders. Schools are also required to organise compulsory classes for students: ten hours minimum in each class in the final two years of primary school, and a minimum of ten hours throughout the entire teaching period in secondary schools. In order to ensure the quality of service provision, classes will be run by teacher-vocational counsellors who have pedagogical qualifications or qualifications in career guidance.

Poland is also implementing a project to prepare a team of advisors-consultants who will conduct training for those implementing vocational guidance and counselling in schools. Consultants will be prepared to conduct training in the field of vocational counselling, as well as implement frameworks for vocational counselling developed under the programme.

These reforms represent a step in the right direction. However, they will need to be complemented by additional measures to ensure that the supply and quality of career guidance improves going forward.

The reforms put a strong emphasis on career guidance classes at the end of primary school and in secondary schools. These are a crucial component of effective career guidance, but they should be accompanied by one-to-one guidance sessions as these enable the counsellor to better tailor advice to the specific needs of each student (OECD, 2010[22]). Career counsellors should also ensure that students have the opportunity to engage with employers, including bringing people into the school to talk about their work, school visits to workplaces, taster programmes and work shadowing (Musset and Mytna Kurekova, 2018[23]). Workplace exposure can help young people become better prepared to make education and training decisions as it allows them to think about the breadth of career choices and routes into different careers (Musset and Mytna Kurekova, 2018[23]).

The Centre for the Development of Talents in Gdansk offers a wide range of career guidance programmes that could be adopted by other regions in Poland to broaden their offering (Box 2.2).

Participants in workshops and focus groups stressed that career counsellors should engage with parents as well as students. International evidence confirms that involving parents is important as they are the most widely accessed source of advice and influence on career paths for young people (Batterham and Levesley, 2011[24]; Howieson and Semple, 2013[25]). The Austrian BiWi system could provide a useful example in this respect (Box 2.2).

During the workshop and focus groups, several participants also pointed out that it might be difficult for career counsellors in schools to have sufficient time and motivation to deliver this wide range of services. The role of career guidance counsellor will be taken up by existing teachers in schools, at least in the short term. However, these teachers will generally receive no additional compensation and might struggle in combining their teaching and career guidance duties.

Going forward, it will be important that career guidance counsellors in schools have access to training opportunities, relevant information (e.g. on labour market trends) and that they collaborate with other career guidance services. The creation of the integrated system of lifelong guidance (discussed in Chapter 5) will help in these respects.

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Box 2.2. Relevant examples: Complementing career counselling reforms in schools

Offering a wide range of career guidance initiatives in Poland

The Centre for the Development of Talents (Centrum Rozwoju Talentów) is a Polish non-public institution offering a wide range of career guidance services. The centre offers workshops or seminars in the area of labour market transition, personal branding or stress management. Its offer is organised around three programmes: Career Academy (Akademia Kariery), which is addressed to schools; Youth Land of Talents (Młodzieżowa Kraina Talentów), which is mainly for VET schools; and the Centre of Personal Development (Centrum Rozwoju Osobistego), which is addressed to adults. The Career Academy provides workshops and individual consultations for students from secondary schools and the final years of primary school. The offer for the school year 2018/19 was based on topics such as “Discover your talents”, “Labour market – future occupations” and “Choice of occupation step-by-step”.

Source: Workshops, focus groups and meetings during the missions in Poland, Centrum Rozwoju Talentów (2019[26]), About Us, https://centrumtalentow.pl/.

Including parents in career guidance services in Austria

In the Austrian BiWi, career counsellors make a conscious effort to bring parents in as partners in their practice through dedicated activities. These include parents’ evenings, during which career counsellors discuss their role in their children’s career choice and provide them with an overview of possible learning pathways and the current situation of the labour market; and parent-teacher conferences that target both parents and teachers of young students with a view to presenting the comprehensive career guidance and information offering.

Source: Cedefop (2016[27]), “Labour market information and guidance”, Cedefop Research Paper; No 55, https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/5555_en.pdf.

Recommendations for complementing career counselling reforms in schools

  • Ensure that counsellors have sufficient time and motivation to deliver a wide range of services. The school governing authorities should ensure that counsellors in schools have a fixed amount of time (e.g. one day a week) and well-defined compensation to fulfil their functions. Counsellors should offer other activities besides career guidance classes, including one-to-one sessions, activities with parents, sessions with employers (e.g. bringing people into the school to talk about their work and school visits to workplaces) and seminars offered by external career guidance centres (e.g. the Centre for the Development of Talents). The central government should support any school governing authorities that lack the funds or capacity to implement this recommendation.

  • Ensure that the lifelong guidance system fulfils the needs of school counsellors in terms of access to training, information, and co-operation mechanisms (see Chapter 5). The MEN should actively participate in the creation of the integrated system of lifelong guidance, making sure that it enables counsellors in education institutions to undertake suitable training opportunities and to access relevant information (e.g. on labour market needs). The MEN should also ensure that the integrated system of lifelong guidance establishes adequate mechanisms for co-operation between counsellors in schools and external stakeholders, such as employer associations, chambers of commerce and trade unions.

Strengthening career counselling in tertiary education

The use of career guidance services has not been widespread among university students. According to the Human Capital Survey (Bilans Kapitału Ludzkiego, BKL), 11% of students from non-public and 6% from public universities seek advice from academic career offices (Jelonek, Antosz and Balcerzak-Raczyńska, 2014[28]). Some participants in the workshops pointed out that students might not even be aware that such services exist. This is confirmed by a survey conducted by the Czestochowa University of Technology, which found that three-quarters of its graduates did not know that the university had a career guidance centre (Sroka, 2014[29]).

As with schools, the low usage by students corresponds to inadequate supply and quality. According to the MNiSW, in the academic year 2014/2015 one-quarter of Poland’s 428 higher education institutions did not operate a careers office. Even in those that did, staff shortages were prevalent. Approximately 45% of career offices has only one full-time employee, while almost 10% has no permanent employees. In more than three-quarters of career offices, employees are delegated to tasks not related to the operation of career offices (Sroka, 2014[29]). Career offices have also struggled to offer high-quality services. Career counsellors are likely to be under-qualified and do not frequently participate in training and professional development. Employees of almost half of career offices did not participate in any form of training and professional development (Sroka, 2014[29]).

The low supply and quality are driven by inadequate funding. Most careers services depend on project funds, which are frequently provided by the EU, making it difficult to develop a sustainable, long-term strategy (European Commission, 2017[13]). Going forward, Poland could take inspiration from Denmark to structure the career guidance offering in universities (Box 2.3).

As with counselling services in schools, the creation of the integrated system of lifelong guidance (discussed in Chapter 5) will help ensure that counsellors in universities have access to training opportunities and relevant information (e.g. on labour market trends), and that they collaborate with other career guidance services.

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Box 2.3. Relevant international example: Strengthening career guidance services

Career counselling in HEIs in Denmark

In Denmark, the University Act specifies that universities must offer students at bachelor’s and master’s level guidance about their current programme, including requirements for master’s and PhD programmes (completion guidance), as well as subsequent employment opportunities (career guidance). However, each university is free to decide how and by whom this guidance is offered. Higher education institutions typically have their own career centres that offer a wide range of career counselling services. For example, Copenhagen Business School’s career centre offers seminars, events, career fairs, networking, help with CV and cover letter writing, job interview preparation and career clarification.

Source: Eurydice (2019[30]), Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/guidance-and-counselling-higher-education-18_en.

Recommendations for strengthening career counselling in tertiary education

  • Provide targeted funding and introduce clear standards for the provision of career guidance services in universities. The MNiSW should consider providing some targeted funding (e.g. based on student-to-counsellor ratios) for the provision of career guidance services in universities. Poland’s HEIs should identify or establish a co-ordinating body in charge of developing standards for career guidance (e.g. minimum levels of career counselling classes/seminars, student-to-counsellor ratios). HEIs should develop their career guidance services in accordance with these standards. The MNiSW should monitor the development of these standards and their impact on improving career guidance services. In the event that the standards or their implementation are insufficient, the MNiSW should consider adding career guidance criteria to the complex assessment conducted by the PKA.

  • Ensure that the lifelong guidance system fulfils the needs of counsellors in HEIs in terms of access to training, information, and co-operation mechanisms (see Chapter 5). The co-ordinating body should actively participate in the creation of the integrated system of lifelong guidance, making sure that it enables counsellors in HEIs to undertake suitable training opportunities and to access relevant information (e.g. on labour market trends). The co-ordinating body should also ensure that the integrated system of lifelong guidance establishes adequate mechanisms for co-operation between counsellors in HEIs and external stakeholders, such as employer associations, chambers of commerce and trade unions.

Opportunity 2: Strengthening incentives for education institutions to align their offer with labour market needs

Students making study choices aligned with labour market needs is necessary, but insufficient to ensure a responsive education system. Education institutions also need to supply programmes that align with labour market needs, both in terms of mix (the number of places offered across different programmes) and quality (the content of these offerings). This often depends on incentives offered by the central government. Incentives could come in the form of regulation (e.g. setting conditions for the accreditation of university programmes or requiring institutions to collect and publish information) or funding arrangements (e.g.making funding conditional on performance metrics) (OECD, 2017[31]).

In the Polish context, better incentives to accommodate labour market needs could help improve the employability prospects of VET graduates and could help reduce skills imbalances for tertiary graduates by ensuring that they develop job-relevant skills.

Poland has recently introduced reforms to improve incentives for VET schools and HEIs to align their education offer to labour market needs. These reforms will need to be carefully monitored and supported. Going forward, requiring VET schools to participate in a comprehensive graduate tracking exercise could further help ensure alignment between the educational offering and labour market demand.

Supporting and monitoring recent reforms in initial VET funding

VET schools in Poland have not paid sufficient attention to labour market demand when making decisions about their educational offering.

The comprehensive review on the effectiveness of the VET system produced by the Polish Supreme Audit Office (NIK) concluded that the educational offering was mainly determined by the available equipment and human resources. The funding arrangements did not incentivise individual institutions to offer fields of study that were more costly or in higher demand in the labour market. This is because the financing algorithm provided similar per capita funding for different vocational subjects (Supreme Audit Office, 2016[15]).

Following recommendations by NIK, the MEN introduced changes to the funding algorithm for VET schools. Since 1 January 2019, the algorithm has reflected the demand for specific occupations in the region and training costs for specific jobs (European Commission, 2018[32]). To monitor the demand for different occupations, the MEN creates a shortlist of shortage occupations, consolidating different data from skills assessment and anticipation (SAA) tools (see Chapter 5). These shortage occupations receive more funding. As a result of these two adjustments, there are sizable differences in funding across fields of study. For example, for a graduate in mechatronics, school receive, all else being equal in the funding formula, approximately 80% more funding than graduates pursuing other fields of study. These reforms have introduced some positive changes in the funding system, but they will need to be adequately supported and monitored.

Some participants in workshops and focus groups highlighted that local stakeholders should be more involved in the development of the funding formula. This insight is confirmed by international evidence. Across the OECD, countries generally find it difficult to adapt centrally conducted SAA tools to local needs. For this reason, some countries involve local stakeholders in developing and discussing results from SAA tools and/or co-ordinating the local policy response (OECD, 2016[5]).

In principle, regional and local labour market councils should be responsible for gathering opinions from employers and trade unions on the regional and local labour market and skills developments (see Chapter 5). This information could be useful for strengthening the evidence base underlying the development of the funding formula. However, as discussed in Chapter 5, the councils frequently lack the capacity, strategic leadership and/or statutory authority to bring together local stakeholders (OECD, 2016[33]).

Poland could build on the Danish local training committees (Box 2.4) to improve the flow of information from local stakeholders to central government for the development of the funding formula, as well for other decisions on VET policy. The local training committees could also be a relevant example to improve co-operation between schools and social partners at the subnational level (see Opportunity 4).

Going forward, Poland could also benefit from introducing graduate tracking for VET graduates. The implementation of graduate tracking has been identified as a priority by the Council of the European Union (The Council of the European Union, 2017[34]). In Poland, information on the employability of graduates could allow the MEN to better calibrate the funding formula and it could support schools in better adapting the content of programmes to the needs of employers, complementing existing SAA tools (see Chapter 5).

To implement graduate tracking in VET, Poland could leverage the experience acquired in constructing the database of the Polish graduate tracking system (ELA) (Box 2.5). The ELA relies on linked administrative datasets to provide information on employment and earnings after graduation. Poland should also consider introducing graduate tracking surveys in VET schools, building on the initiative launched in the Wejherowski powiat (Box 2.4), where schools are now legally bound to conduct a graduate survey that covers information on employment and earnings after graduation, as well as more qualitative information on how well schools prepare graduates for the labour market.

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Box 2.4. Relevant Polish examples: Supporting and monitoring recent reforms in initial VET funding

Improving the flow of information between the local and national level

In Denmark, local training committees serve as a link between local and national decision-making levels. They ensure that national level bodies have a good overview of local circumstances and that local policy is aligned with national objectives. Information gathered by these committees regarding local skills needs, and the corresponding training opportunities provided, is important data for national bodies in setting the overall direction of vocational education in Denmark. Each vocational college (providing school-based education and training) works with at least one local training committee. Each vocational college (providing school-based education and training) works with at least one local training committee. Local training include representatives from the vocational college (students, staff and management), local employers and employees. In addition to acting as a link between the local and national decision making levels, the committees play an important role in co-ordinating VET policy at the local level. Representation from local business enables the committees to co-ordinate workplace training: finding and approving relevant internships as well as assisting in resolving disputes between students and work placement providers. The committees also help determine what subjects should be taught and have a key role in shaping the course curriculum.

Source: Kuczera, M. and S. Jeon (2019[35]), Vocational Education and Training in Sweden, https://doi.org/10.1787/g2g9fac5-en.

Graduate surveys: A local solution in Poland from Wejherowski powiat

A local law passed by the Wejherowski powiat in Poland introduced a uniform graduate survey in each secondary and post-secondary school. The procedure defines the questions within the survey (e.g. details answers about further education or employment and how well schools prepared them for it), the timeframe (i.e. graduates participate in research 12 months after graduation) and responsibilities for implementation (mainly the school headmaster). The results are published on the school website in an allocated section and are annexed a local-level report on the educational offering. The data are used to analyse and optimise the educational offer in the powiat, including deciding which occupations will be on offer and showing possible career paths within career guidance counselling.

Source: Workshops, focus groups and meetings during the missions in Poland.

Recommendations for supporting and monitoring recent reforms in initial VET funding

  • Strengthen the involvement of local stakeholders in providing useful information for the development of the initial VET funding formula. In developing the funding formula, the MEN should complement centrally conducted SAA tools with high-quality information on local labour market circumstances (e.g. demand for specific occupations or skills) from local stakeholders and counties. The key bodies involved in gathering and reporting the information on local labour market circumstances could be the newly established subnational councils or the strengthened regional and local labour market offices (see Opportunity 4). The bodies could feed the information directly to the MEN or via the counties.

  • Develop a graduate tracking system for VET schools through a linked administrative dataset and/or a national graduate survey. The MEN could develop a linked administrative dataset similar to the ELA and/or it could require VET schools to participate in the realisation of a graduate survey. For the linked administrative dataset, the MEN should link information on VET graduates from its own database to social security data. For the graduate survey, the MEN should establish a nationwide template, whereas the survey could be conducted centrally or by the schools themselves (e.g. as in the Wejherowski powiat).

Monitoring the impact of recent HE funding reforms on employability

Tertiary institutions have been able to accommodate higher demand for some fields of study, but they have not always paid attention to the employability of graduates.

Polish tertiary education institutions have recently been able to accommodate for increasing demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. These subjects help to fill occupations in high demand in the labour market, such as engineering and ICT technicians, as seen in the performance section of this chapter (Skills Panorama, 2016[16]). The proportion of STEM graduates has increased steadily, reaching values in line with the other Visegrad countries that have a similar economic structure (Figure 2.5).

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Figure 2.5. Share of tertiary graduates in STEM subjects, Poland and selected countries, 2013-2017
Figure 2.5. Share of tertiary graduates in STEM subjects, Poland and selected countries, 2013-2017

Source: OECD calculations based on data from OECD (2019), OECD Education at a Glance (database): Graduates by field, http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=EDU_GRAD_FIELD.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934036291

However, according to an evaluation commissioned in 2014 by the National Centre for Research and Development (Narodowego Centrum Badań i Rozwoju, NCBIR), universities did not always place sufficient emphasis on the employability of graduates when designing study programmes. Only half of universities conducted labour market monitoring in industries and sectors relevant to the offered fields of study (Agrotec, 2014[36]). More generally, when developing their education offer, universities first took into account the background and interests of academic staff, as opposed to the interests of the candidates or the employment prospects of graduates (Agrotec, 2014[36]).

As a result, many Polish students do not feel that their studies prepare them well for the labour market. According to the Eurostudent survey, less than half of the students (44%) in Poland feel that their studies prepare them well for the national labour market. Lower figures can be found only in Lithuania and Romania (42% and 37%, respectively).

The situation has been particularly critical for graduates of public higher vocational schools (PWSZ), which have developed an offering that in most cases is not consistent with labour market needs. Most awarded degrees are in social and medical sciences, with graduates in the former particularly facing relatively poor labour market outcomes (OECD, 2018[11]; European Commission, 2017[13]).

The recent reforms in funding and quality assurance have introduced changes that should improve incentives for monitoring graduate employability for professional HEIs. Before the reforms in the funding formula, both professional and academic HEIs received their core funding (dotacja podstawowa) on the basis of student enrolment and staff costs (80%), scientific activity (10%), and internationalisation (10%). Under the new regime, both professional and academic HEIs will continue to receive the majority of their core funding on the basis of student enrolment and staff costs (90% in the case of professional HEIs and 60% in the case of academic HEIs). Professional HEIs will now receive the remainder on the basis of the relative unemployment rate among their graduates (5%) and the external income they generate (5%). Academic HEIs will receive the rest of their funding on the basis of the quality of their scientific research (25%), their research and development (R&D) spending (10%), and internationalisation (5%).

The proportion of funding conditional on employability outcomes for professional HEIs is broadly in line with comparable institutions in other OECD countries. For example, polytechnics in Finland receive approximately 3% of funding based on graduate employment rates (De Boer et al., 2015[37]).

The new Law on Higher Education and Science also introduces a labour market dimension into the quality assurance process for professional HEIs. The MNiSW can refuse the approval of a new study programme if it does not meet socio-economic needs, given the results from SAA tools (see Chapter 5). These reforms will need to be carefully monitored, especially for academic HEIs.

In the case of academic HEIs, the new regime does not introduce additional incentives to ensure that graduates find a good match in the labour market. In principle, greater pressure from students (see Opportunity 1) or stronger links with employers through the newly introduced university councils (see Opportunity 4) could help in this respect by supporting graduates in developing job-relevant skills. However, introducing some changes in the funding formula might prove necessary in case the employability prospects of tertiary graduates does not continue to improve. In the case of professional HEIs, the introduction of the unemployment criterion could improve employability incentives, but going forward it could be complemented by a wider set of indicators, such as earnings and mismatch metrics.

The MNiSW can use information from the ELA database to monitor the impact of these reforms on the employability of graduates (Box 2.5). The ELA can provide high-quality data on the employment status and earnings of recent graduates. However, the MNiSW could also leverage more qualitative data sources, such as the BKL, which evaluates whether graduates possess skills that are aligned with labour market demand.

Other OECD countries have complemented information from graduate tracking databases (such as the ELA) with surveys of university graduates (Box 2.5). Graduate surveys can provide institution level qualitative data on the university experience (e.g. how useful the university experience was in preparing for the labour market and whether graduates feel they are mismatched) that is not available from graduate tracking databases. The results can be useful to monitor the performance of the HE sector in securing strong employability prospects for graduates. However, they should be interpreted cautiously as they are based on subjective perceptions of the university experience (Frawley and Harvey, 2015[38]).

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Box 2.5. Relevant examples: Monitoring recent reforms in HE funding

Linked administrative data for graduate tracking: The ELA database and portal

In Poland, the ELA was developed by the Evaluation of Educational Quality Laboratory of the University of Warsaw (under the supervision of the MNiSW) to track the economic situation of graduates from higher education institutions. The system links administrative data from the social security system and data from the ministry’s student database to provide information on employment status and earnings after graduation. The system generates anonymised aggregate reports for annual graduate cohorts according to HEI and type of studies. The findings from these reports are published on a portal (https://ela.nauka.gov.pl) that tailors the information to the needs of different users. Graduates can make use of the basic ELA service, which provides interactive infographics and rankings, whereas policy makers, researchers and HEIs can access the detailed results and specific reports on the ELA PRO service. The latest available version of the ELA (the fourth edition) has integrated information on pre-graduation professional activities into the system, as a result of new provisions in the Law on Higher Education and Science. This enables a comparison of remuneration and employment levels before, during and after university studies.

Source: Workshops, focus groups and meetings during the missions in Poland, ELA (2019[39]), Infographics, https://ela.nauka.gov.pl.

Graduate surveys: International examples

The United Kingdom has a long tradition of graduate surveys. Until 2017, institutions were required to gather data for the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. In 2018, this was replaced by the Graduate Outcome Survey (GOS). The GOS is delivered directly by the Higher Education Statistics Agency 15 months after graduation, using contacts provided by individual institutions. It asks about work and education status, potential mismatch and whether the course programme was helpful towards employability. The EU has recently launched a pilot survey for a new new EU-wide initiative: the Eurograduate Survey. This European-wide graduate survey asks for graduate feedback one and five years after students graduate from both bachelor’s and master’s programmes. Graduates are sent the survey electronically and answer online. The questions cover topics such as how easy it was to find employment after graduation, the level of pay, the level of satisfaction with the course and whether the course helped develop relevant skills for the labour market. A consortium of partners help to run the survey, bringing together expertise from across the European Union.

Source: Frawley D. and V. Harvey (2015[38]), Graduate Surveys: Review of international practice, https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2017/06/Graduate-Surveys-Review-of-International-Practice.pdf; HESA (n.d.[40]), The Survey, www.hesa.ac.uk/innovation/outcomes/survey; Eurograduate (n.d.[41]), Eurograduate Homepage, www.eurograduate.eu.

Recommendation for monitoring the impact of recent HE funding reforms on employability

  • Develop a set of indicators to monitor whether the current changes in the HE funding formula provide sufficient incentives to improve employability. The MNiSW should develop a consolidated set of indicators from the ELA (e.g. earnings after graduation and/or an additional indicator on mismatch among current graduates), the BKL (e.g. skills acquisition) that will allow for the monitoring of different dimensions of employability, as well as other relevant data sources. The indicators should compare specific institutions whenever possible, or professional vs. academic HEIs. On the basis of the indicators, the MNiSW could decide to strengthen employability incentives for academic HEIs and/or introduce additional criteria in the funding formula for professional HEIs.

Opportunity 3: Improving incentives and support for effective teaching

The responsiveness of the education system does not only depend on choices made by students or on the offering by education institutions. Education institutions need to deliver effective teaching so that students can develop a mix of technical and transversal skills that allow them to succeed in the short and long term (OECD, 2015[1]). This is especially important in the Polish context, as both VET and tertiary educated graduates do not always show strong foundational skills (as discussed in the performance section of this report).

Given the structure of the Polish education system, the MEN can influence teaching quality in VET schools through teaching policies and the structure of the curriculum. HEIs are autonomous when it comes to setting pay and organising the professional development of academics, but the MNiSW can influence outcomes through funding and regulatory requirements.

Poland has struggled to offer strong incentives and support for effective teaching in both VET and tertiary education. In VET, it has launched a new core curriculum, which will need to be carefully supported and evaluated. In tertiary education, it is difficult to say whether the recent reforms in funding will increase incentives for teaching quality. The reforms will need to be monitored and accompanied by more systematic efforts in terms of the professional development of academics.

Improving incentives and support for VET teachers

The workshops and focus groups conducted as part of this project suggested that the whole of the teaching workforce in Poland is facing challenges in terms of motivation and professional development. These insights are validated by international and Polish evidence.

According to the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 survey, the key problems affecting Polish lower secondary school teachers include unsatisfactory income, low prestige of the profession, work overload and no job security. For instance, 18% of teachers reported that the teaching profession is valued by society, compared to a TALIS average of 31% (Hernik et al., 2015[42]). These problems likely have an impact on making the teaching profession attractive and keeping motivation high. The Human Capital Survey (BKL) also shows that fewer than 50% of teachers continuously develop their competences (Górniak, 2015[43]). The Teacher’s Charter Law (Karta Nauczyciela) prescribes that every teacher is obliged to develop their skills in accordance with the needs of the school. However, several teachers do not perceive developing their competences as important to effectively perform their duties (Górniak, 2015[43]).

The VET teaching profession faces similar and potentially more serious challenges. There are generally three types of teacher in VET schools in Poland: teachers of general subjects (e.g. mathematics), teachers of theoretical vocational education and teachers of practical vocational education.

VET schools face significant problems in the recruitment of teachers: 69% of schools reported facing recruitment problems in a recent survey (Lis and Miazga, 2014[44]). The career is seen as unattractive, in particular for vocational subjects that compete with occupations in high demand in the private sector, which typically have higher salaries (Lis and Miazga, 2014[44]). Possibly as a result of the unattractiveness of a VET teaching career, the workforce is relatively aged, in line with other OECD countries. In 27% of VET schools, approximately 17% of teachers are above the retirement age, compared to 10% in general education (Lis and Miazga, 2014[44]).

The VET teaching workforce is also not strongly engaging in professional development activities. The review of the effectiveness of the VET system produced by NIK found that in approximately half of VET schools there were teachers who had not engaged in professional development in the past year (Supreme Audit Office, 2016[15]).

Poland has introduced some new measures that aim to strengthen professional development for VET teachers. Recent legislation introduces obligatory sectoral placements in enterprises for vocational teachers. This will contribute towards upgrading the skills and competences of teachers, and provide them with access to new technologies and enterprises in a given branch of industry.

Going forward Poland could benefit from adopting a more systematic approach to recruit, retain and train VET teachers. It could gather more comprehensive evidence about the relative importance of different factors in influencing the retention of VET teachers (e.g. pay vs. benefits) and different form of support, as in England (Piano, S. et al., 2018[45]). Poland could then learn from the experiences in Northern Ireland and Australia to improve incentives and support for VET teachers (OECD, 2013[46]).

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Box 2.6. Relevant international examples: Incentives and support for VET teachers

Gathering evidence for teacher recruitment and retention: An example from England

England has undertaken significant efforts to improve incentives and support for VET teachers. The Department for Education (DfE) has conducted quantitative research to identify occupations that are comparable to VET teachers across different subject areas. Using the results from this quantitative exercise, it has explored differences in pay between VET teachers and the private sector. The DfE has also conducted a qualitative survey that provides information on experience, qualifications and expectations of teachers in secondary schools and VET. The survey involved approximately 10 000 teachers out of an estimated population of 67 000.

Source: Piano S. et al. (2018[45]), “Identifying further education teacher comparators”, Research Brief by the Department for Education, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/757565/Identifying_further_education_teacher_comparators.pdf.

Incentives and support for teachers: Examples from two OECD countries

Northern Ireland established a Performance Review and Staff Development (PRSD) scheme in 2005, which is a systematic process to support all principals, vice principals and teachers with their professional development and career planning. The components of the review process include three stages: planning, monitoring and reviewing. The PRSD is closely linked to a school’s strategic plan for improvement: the school development plan (SDP). The SDP brings together the school’s priorities, the main measures it will take to raise standards, the resources dedicated to these, and the key outcomes and targets it intends to achieve. It sets out the overall “roadmap” for the three years ahead, with a focus on the school’s key priorities and action plans.

In Australia, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) prepared the Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders. This document aims to promote a strong professional learning culture that entails continuous improvement throughout teaching careers. Successful professional learning is characterised as relevant, collaborative and future focused. This framework encourages schools to become learning communities that rely on their own resources, with the AITSL offering global support. The support consists of tools and resources to back the enactment of the charter, including case studies from schools and systems willing to share their strategies for establishing professional learning cultures. AITSL also supports research into determining useful and practical methodologies for teachers and school leaders to apply in order to effectively evaluate the impact of professional learning in their school.

Source: OECD (2013[46]), Synergies for Better Learning: An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264190658-en; Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2012[47]), Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders, www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/national-policy-framework/australian-charter-for-the-professional-learning-of-teachers-and-school-leaders.pdf?sfvrsn=6f7eff3c_4.

Recommendation for improving incentives and support for VET teachers

  • Develop a recruitment and retention strategy that builds on a broad mix of qualitative and quantitative evidence and extensive consultations with stakeholders. The MEN should consider conducting quantitative (e.g. on differences in pay between private and public sector) and qualitative research (e.g. a teacher survey) to develop a new package of incentives and support. This should include VET teachers, but it could also be expanded to the whole of the teaching workforce. The MEN should ensure that teachers and other social partners have an opportunity to provide meaningful input on the evidence gathering process and the development of the strategy.

Supporting the implementation of the new curriculum in initial VET

The initial VET curriculum adopted in 2012 has not supported VET graduates in Poland to develop the full set of skills required by employers.

The review of the effectiveness of the VET system produced by NIK concludes that the curriculum adopted in 2012 did not push graduates to develop self-organisation, professional and interpersonal skills (Supreme Audit Office, 2016[15]). However, the review has praised the introduction of the revised curriculum in the context of the recent reforms. The revised curriculum reflects the key objectives of the education reform, including putting greater emphasis on key competences, strengthening education in the field of modern foreign languages, developing students' entrepreneurship skills, and the efficient use of ICT in everyday life. Some participants within workshops and focus groups disagreed with the assessment by NIK, feeling that the revised curriculum was too rigid and traditional.

The introduction of the new curriculum in the context of the recent reforms will need to be carefully evaluated. However, the immediate priority is to ensure that teachers have sufficient support to deliver it successfully.

Teachers need to become comfortable with the structure of the new curriculum and need to receive sufficient support to meet is objectives, especially in terms of developing students’ entrepreneurship and ICT skills. Poland has already undertaken an initiative that could help in this respect. The Centre for Education Development (Ośrodek Rozwoju Edukacji, ORE) has launched training programmes to ensure that teachers and schools are well prepared for the adoption of the new curriculum (Box 2.7). Poland could deliver these training programmes, as well as other relevant training opportunities, through a structured plan, comprising of face-to-face lessons, workshops and online courses. A similar approach has been implemented in England for the introduction of new technical qualifications (Box 2.7).

The successful adoption of the new curriculum could also require that schools receive sufficient funding to update equipment. However, this should not come at the expense of a stronger focus on work-based learning (see Opportunity 4). The NIK review finds that more than one-third of school directors believe that the equipment in schools is not adequate for the implementation of the new curriculum (Supreme Audit Office, 2016[15]). The new curriculum specifies a mix of equipment that must be present in schools, including equipment used to teach job-related skills in school-based workshops (e.g. electric machines used to train electricians). International evidence suggests that effectively designed work-based learning arrangements can be more efficient than school-based workshops to enable students to develop job-related technical skills that are aligned with labour market needs (OECD, 2018[48]). In the short term it will be important for Poland to ensure that there is good quality equipment for teaching job-related skills in school-based workshops. However, in the future, in light of the international evidence, it would be preferable for Poland to strengthen the provision of work-based learning for the development of technical skills (see Opportunity 4).

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Box 2.7. Relevant examples: Implementation of the new curriculum in initial VET

The training programmes offered by the Ośrodek Rozwoju Edukacji

In Poland, the Centre for Education Development (Ośrodek Rozwoju Edukacji, ORE) has developed online training programmes to improve the support offered to schools and teachers in the adoption of the new curriculum. The online programmes have the following objectives: explaining the structure of the new curriculum, strengthening the preparation of the planning of the didactic process, and improving the skills (e.g. ICT skills) involved in the organisation and implementation of the new curriculum.

Source: Workshops, focus groups and meetings during the missions in Poland; The Education Development Centre (2019[49]), Implementation of education according to new vocational curricula, www.ore.edu.pl/2019/04/realizacja-ksztalcenia-wedlug-nowych-programow-nauczania-do-zawodow/.

Introduction of the T-Levels in England

T-Levels are new two-year technical programmes being introduced in England in phases, starting in September 2020. They are an upper secondary programme designed to be the vocational equivalent of the more academically focused A-Level qualifications. The UK’s Education and Training Foundation (ETF) will deliver the T-level Professional Development Programme to ensure that teachers understand what the new qualifications involve, and to enable teachers to update their subject and industry knowledge. Over 25% of the ETF budget for 2019-20, GBP 6.6 million (British pounds), has been set aside for the delivery of the T-level Professional Development Programme, making it the single largest UK-wide training programme for 2019-20. Teachers will be able to undergo training on pedagogy, subject knowledge, professional practice and assessment, as well as access help in developing English, mathematics and digital skills teaching for T-Levels. Training will be delivered through face-to-face programmes, online modules, webinars and workshops. For example, the training element focusing on pedagogy will include a series of face-to-face programmes delivered around the country and online modules.

Source: Education and Training Foundation (2019[50]), T Levels, www.et-foundation.co.uk/supporting/technical-education/t-levels/; Cotes, R. (2019[51]), 2019-20 Grant Offer Letter to the Education and Training Foundation, www.et-foundation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ETF-GoL-19-20.pdf.

Recommendation for supporting the implementation of the curriculum in initial VET

  • Implement a structured programme of teacher training on the new curriculum. The MEN should implement a structured training programme for the development of the new curriculum, comprising of a mix of face-to-face programmes, online modules, webinars and workshops. The MEN could ensure that all teachers can access the online training courses developed by the ORE. The MEN could complement these online programmes with face-to-face sessions and workshops.

Strengthening support and incentives for effective teaching in HEIs

Teaching in Polish universities has been oriented towards transferring knowledge rather than stimulating and developing a broad set of cognitive skills.

The teaching methodology in Polish universities has remained relatively traditional, typically relying on lecture style teaching. All HEIs that responded to the 2016 Leader Survey, which covered 39 public and non-public universities, indicated that lectures are the most common teaching method, whereas work-based methods (e.g. problem-based learning) and other forms of blended learning are used much less frequently (OECD/EU, 2017[52]). These approaches are more time consuming, but they can be beneficial for critical thinking and problem-solving skills (Hoidn and Kärkkäinen, 2014[53]).

The traditional teaching techniques could be related to the low availability of professional development opportunities for academics. The MNiSW has mandated pedagogical training for all new staff; however, Polish institutions have institutional autonomy in the area of continuing professional development, and there is no system-wide organisation responsible for establishing a common framework and sharing best practice (European Commission, 2017[13]). The outlook has recently been improving through the launch of large-scale training programmes targeting teaching quality, which rely on EU funding (European Commission, 2017[13]). However, it is not clear what percentage of teaching staff have benefited. This insight was confirmed by some participants within workshops, who felt that there are no centralised efforts to train academics.

The reliance on traditional methods could also be related to a lack of incentives to improve teaching quality. A survey comparing the work situation of the academic profession across 12 European countries has concluded that academic teachers in Poland did not think that evaluation plays a role at their institution in encouraging them to improve their instructional skills (Teichler and Höhle, 2013[54]).

The newly introduced funding formula (discussed in Opportunity 2) could affect incentives to improve teaching quality, but evaluating its impact is not straightforward.

As discussed in Opportunity 2, academic HEIs will now receive stronger incentives to focus on the quantity and quality of scientific research (35% of total funding conditional on research performance as opposed to 10% previously), whereas professional HEIs will no longer receive funding on the basis of their research performance (0% of total funding conditional on research performance as opposed to 10% previously). In principle, stronger incentives to conduct research could disincentivise academics from investing their time in providing effective teaching (Lindsay, Breen and Jenkins, 2002[55]). However, conducting higher quality research can push academics to improve teaching quality (Cadez, Dimovski and Zaman Groff, 2017[56]; García-Gallego et al., 2015[57]). Conducting higher quality research can strengthen knowledge and competence, enabling academics to become more effective teachers (Lindsay, Breen and Jenkins, 2002[55]). These two competing effects make it difficult to evaluate the impact of the recent funding reforms on incentives to improve high-quality teaching.

Aside from the funding formula, the MNiSW has implemented two initiatives in support of teaching quality: it has allocated extra funding to ensure that a student-teacher ratio of 13:1 will be fulfilled, and it will provide some additional funding to support the development of education quality through the Excellence in Teaching initiative. Within this scheme, academic HEIs will be able to receive additional funding to improve the quality of education by presenting a detailed six-year development plan. The successful academic HEIs will receive extra funding so that their student-teacher ratio is 10:1.

These initiatives could help strengthen teaching quality in academic and professional HEIs. However, going forward Poland could still benefit from making professional development efforts more systematic by creating a forum to disseminate national and international best practice (Box 2.8). This will help ensure that all academics receive more comprehensive support to adopt more innovative teaching practices.

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Box 2.8. Relevant examples: Incentives and support for effective teaching in HEIs

Professional development bodies in Norway and Ireland

In Norway, centres for excellence in education (SFU-ordningen) aim to develop good learning and teaching practices in specific fields of study, as well as innovative approaches such as the use of online tools, flipped classrooms, problem-based learning, seminars and group work. The centres of excellence have successfully aligned programmes with broader higher education strategies, supported relevant research in their areas of teaching, and led to better and more collaboration among academic staff. External experts evaluate how needs for training are detected and what support is offered to staff, as well as how continuing pedagogical development is maintained.

In Ireland, the National Forum in HE has developed a national professional development framework that provides guidance for planning, developing and engaging in professional development activities. There are also several nationally funded collaborative projects that target various skills among academics, including digital literacy and foreign language skills. In addition, the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning provides a range of services, including the dissemination of good practice and scholarships to develop a better understanding of effective learning and teaching practices.

Source: OECD (2018[58]), Higher Education in Norway: Labour Market Relevance and Outcomes, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264301757-en.

Professional development of academics in Poland: Two relevant examples

  • The Competence Development Programme (Program rozwoju kompetencji) is a pilot project of the MNiSW that aims to strengthen the qualifications and competences necessary in the labour market through supporting modern teaching methods, emphasising workshop classes, using new technologies, and supporting module education and the interdisciplinary nature of studies. The pilot project has been evaluated positively by the MNiSW, but requires more funding to be extended and to become sustainable.

  • The Masters of Didactics transnational co-operation (Mistrzowie dydaktyki) project aims to develop modern teaching methods at Polish universities through co-operation with the best foreign universities from the Top 100 of the Shanghai Ranking. Partner universities will develop an effective programme of training/study visits for tutors (employees of Polish universities) on the basis of their own good practice, organise and conduct training/study visits, and create tutoring models for Polish universities in co-operation with Polish experts.

Source: Workshops, focus groups and meetings during the missions in Poland.

Recommendation for strengthening support and incentives for effective teaching in HEIs

  • Establish a forum responsible for providing guidance and disseminating best practice about the professional development of academic teachers. Poland’s HEIs should identify or establish a co-ordinating body in charge of setting up a forum that provides guidance for planning, developing and engaging in professional development. The forum could also gather and disseminate information on best practice, taking inspiration from the ongoing projects in Poland (e.g. the Competence Development Programme) and internationally (e.g. the Masters of Didactics).

Opportunity 4: Strengthening collaboration between education institutions and employers

Improving the labour market relevance of education requires effective interaction between the education system and employers (OECD, 2015[1]).

In VET, employers frequently co-operate with VET institutions at the national and subnational level to suggest adjustments to the curriculum and feed other relevant information (Kuczera and Jeon, 2019[35]). This opportunity focuses on co-operation between education institutions and employers at the subnational level; co-operation at the national level between employers and the MEN (within the newly established sectoral skills councils) is discussed in Chapter 5. In HE, employers should collaborate with universities to ensure that the content of the curriculum is labour market relevant (OECD, 2017[31]).

Employers should also collaborate with education institutions to provide work-based learning. As anticipated in Opportunity 3, work-based learning enables students to develop work-relevant technical skills using up-to-date equipment and work practices, as well as soft skills that are valuable in the workplace (OECD, 2015[1]; OECD, 2018[48]).

In Poland, participants in workshops signalled that strengthening collaboration between education institutions and employers is a crucial opportunity as it can help improve the employability of VET graduates by ensuring that they develop the skills in high demand in the labour market. It could also help to minimise skills mismatch, especially among recent tertiary graduates, through a better alignment between the curriculum and labour market needs.

In Poland, collaboration between education institutions and employers is not widespread. Recent reforms have aimed to strengthen co-operation on the curriculum in VET and to involve employers more actively in decision making in public HEIs, but they will need to be adequately supported. Involving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in training and expanding the recently introduced dual studies in HEIs will be important to strengthen work-based learning.

Improving subnational co-operation between VET schools and employers

Collaboration on curriculum development between the VET system and employers in Poland remains difficult. Generally, there is a lack of dialogue between employers and vocational schools. According to a survey of more than 500 enterprises and almost 400 vocational schools, both schools and enterprises are willing to engage in far-reaching co-operation. The main reasons for the lack of co-operation over one-third of directors and entrepreneurs indicated that no one has come to them with such offer (Maison, 2015[59]).

There is a growing number of enterprises collaborating with vocational schools to develop curricula, and sending external examiners to participate in vocational exams. However, reaching SMEs, which make up more than 90% of all firms in Poland, remains a challenge (OECD, 2016[12]).

The information gathered in workshops, focus groups and bilateral meetings confirmed that co-operation between the VET system and employers at the subnational level is generally low. In principle, regional and local labour market councils should be responsible for providing meaningful input for the development of the educational offering to counties and schools. However, as mentioned in Opportunity 2 above and discussed in Chapter 5, the councils generally lack the capacity to engage with local stakeholders. Some regions (e.g. Małopolska) have been able to build strong platforms for co-operation between VET schools, counties and employers (Box 2.9), but these efforts have not been systemic across Poland.

The new law on VET makes progress in this respect by specifying that the VET system is supported by employers, employer organisations, other economic organisations, professional associations and sectoral skills councils (see Chapter 5). The law stipulates that schools are required to partner with employers when launching new classes. This co-operation is carried out under a contract or agreement and covers at least one education cycle. It includes activities such as patron classes and the organisation of vocational exams.

Going forward, Poland could further strengthen the involvement of local employers in the development of the educational offering by expanding their role and representation in subnational councils. Some participants in workshops and focus groups suggested that Poland could establish subnational level bodies that bring together VET school representatives, employers and other social partners (such as with the partnership for lifelong learning in Małopolska or the Danish local training committees in Box 2.4). However, given that establishing these new bodies could be costly and operationally challenging, Poland could also consider strengthening the effectiveness of regional and local labour market councils, potentially building on the Norwegian vocational training boards (Box 2.9).

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Box 2.9. Relevant examples: Subnational co-operation between VET schools and employers

Co-operation between the VET system and employers in Poland: The Małopolska region

In the Małopolska region, the Partnership for Lifelong Learning provides a platform for co-operation between education institutions and associations of employers so that they can exchange information to ensure that the school offering in terms of subject mix and curriculum is consistent with labour market needs in the region. However, the scope of the partnership is much broader as it covers the whole of the lifelong learning spectrum (from schools to training providers). The region has also established regional sectoral councils in seven sectors, in collaboration with the Department of Education in the voivodeship (regional) marshal’s office. The councils are composed of representatives of VET schools and centres for adult learning, as well as local employers and business associations. The councils allow local employers to communicate information on skills needs in specific sectors, enabling VET teachers in related subjects to provide good quality vocational qualifications that are linked to labour market needs.

Source: Workshops, focus groups and meetings during the missions in Poland.

Involving social partners in VET: An example from Norway

In Norway, social partners sit on 19 vocational training boards, one for each county. They provide advice on quality, career guidance, regional development and the provision in the county to meet local labour market needs. County authorities are also responsible for approving enterprises that provide apprenticeship training. While counties are free to develop their approval procedure, they typically involve social partners from the relevant sector in the process.

Source: Kuczera, M. and S. Jeon (2019[35]), Vocational Education and Training in Sweden, https://doi.org/10.1787/g2g9fac5-en.

Recommendation for improving subnational co-operation between VET schools and employers

  • Strengthen the involvement of local stakeholders in developing the VET offering by expanding existing or establishing new subnational councils. The MEN and the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy (MRiPS) could consider strengthening the capacity and expanding the composition (e.g. to include school representatives) of regional and local labour market councils so that these bodies are able to provide useful information for schools to adapt their offering to labour market needs and to feed useful information on local circumstances to central government for the development of the funding formula (see Opportunity 2). Alternatively, the MEN could guide the establishment of subnational councils that bring together representatives from employers, VET schools and other social partners to fulfil these two functions.

Supporting and monitoring governance reforms in academic HEIs

Collaboration on curriculum development between employers and HEIs has not been stronger. A 2014 survey of over 1 600 employers concluded that consultations on the design of study programmes, as well as on the creation of new and the cancellation of courses with relatively weaker labour market demand are not common (Agrotec, 2014[36]). The HEI Leader survey shows that HEIs in Poland appear to be involved in active partnerships and knowledge exchange with the business community, as well as with local government and regional development agencies. However, these relationships are often reliant on personal initiatives rather than strong institutional linkages (OECD, 2016[12]).

As seen in the description of current arrangements, until recently advisory boards were the only formal bodies for collaboration between employers and public academic HEIs. However, these bodies were not found to be sufficiently systematic to allow for the effective representation of external stakeholders in the governance of universities (European Commission, 2017[13]).

Conversely, arrangements for the involvement of outside stakeholders in private HEIs and public higher vocational schools (PWSZ) were found to be sufficient (European Commission, 2017[13]).

The new Law on Higher Education and Science introduces a new body in public academic HEIs, the university council, with people from outside the given institution constituting at least 50% of its composition. These reforms are a step in the right direction, but it will be important to ensure that the bodies function effectively and build a constructive dialogue with employers and other local partners. Poland could use the experiences of fellow OECD countries to further support these reforms (Box 2.10).

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Box 2.10. Relevant international example: Governance reforms in academic HEIs

Improving co-operation between employers and HEIs

In Scotland, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) developed a guide that reviewed case studies and set out success factors to improve co-operation between employers and HEIs. The success factors include setting clear timelines and objectives, having adequate resources, agreeing on a shared set of goals, and setting evaluation mechanisms. The guide was shared with HEIs to aid them in engaging with employers in the curriculum.

Source: Bottomley A., and H. Williams (2006[60]), A Guide to International Best Practice in Engaging Employers in the Curriculum, www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/docs/ethemes/employability/employability---best-practice-in-engaging-employers-in-the-curriculum.pdf?sfvrsn=f340f681_14.

Recommendation for supporting and monitoring governance reforms in academic HEIs

  • Develop and adopt a clear set of guidelines for the functioning of university councils in public academic HEIs. Poland’s HEIs should identify or establish a co-ordinating body in charge of developing success factors and practical arrangements (e.g. duration, reporting) for effective dialogue in university councils. The university councils should function in accordance with these guidelines. The MNiSW should monitor the development of these guidelines and their impact on effective dialogue. In the event that the guidelines or their implementation are insufficient, the MNiSW should consider adding criteria on the effective functioning of university councils to the complex assessment conducted by the PKA.

Strengthening work-based learning in initial VET

Work-based learning in the VET system in Poland is not particularly common, with 35% of students at vocational schools still obtaining their practical training in workshops dedicated exclusively to educational purposes, rather than in the workplace (OECD, 2016[12]). Only 7.7% of technical education students carry out practical activities with employers (including a small share of students who carry out these activities on farms). The incidence of firm-based practical activities in technical education is substantially lower than in basic vocational schools, where the share of students who carry out at least part of their practical activities in firms is 66.2% (Hoftijzer, Stronkowski and Rozenbaum, 2018[61]).

One of the key factors behind this is the difficulty in reaching out to SMEs), which make up more than 90% of all firms in Poland (OECD, 2016[12]).

Polish SMEs face strong financial barriers in providing work-based learning. A 2017 study showed that financial support directed at the development of programmes or the reimbursement of costs for remuneration of a trainee would be the most important initiative to improve work-based learning in SMEs (Strzebońska, 2017[62]). Employers stressed that they have to adjust workplaces to the needs of trainees, including the purchase of necessary equipment and software, as well as employ a trainee mentor/supervisor (Strzebońska, 2017[62]).

Another important factor is the lack of awareness of current arrangements for work-based learning. The SME sector lacks knowledge on the legal conditions related to the organisation of apprenticeships and internships. The lack of access to information was emphasised primarily by representatives of microenterprises. In addition, the content of the available information is not adapted to the style of communication (language too technical and complicated) of enterprises (Strzebońska, 2017[62]). Several participants in workshops and focus groups confirmed that these financial and informational barriers are significant in preventing SMEs from engaging in work-based learning. Poland could benefit from learning from the experiences of other OECD countries in improving the participation of SMEs in work-based learning (Box 2.11).

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Box 2.11. Relevant international examples: Work-based learning in VET

Training associations in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the government established vocational training associations (Lehrbetriebsverbünde) through the 2004 Act on VET. These are associations of two or more training firms that share apprentices, whose training is organised across several firms on a rotating basis. The aim is to enable the engagement of firms that lack the capacity and resources to provide the full training of an apprentice, and to lower the financial and administrative burden on individual firms. The Confederation subsidises the associations with initial funding during the first three years for marketing, administrative and other costs necessary to set up the joint training programme. After this initial support, the training associations are supposed to be financially independent. An evaluation (Resultate Evaluation Lehrbetriebsverbünde, OPET, Bern) found that the majority of firms participating in training associations would not have engaged in training otherwise.

Source: Kuczera M., V. Kis and G. Wurzburg (2009[63]), OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training: A Learning for Jobs Review of Korea 2009, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264113879-en

Training associations and subsidies in Austria

Austria complements training associations with direct subsidies. Companies that cannot fulfil certain standards (e.g. because they are too small or too specialised) may form training alliances (Ausbildungsverbünde) to share apprentices. Alliances of training firms are supervised at the state level by apprenticeship offices (Lehrlingsstellen), but business organisations help to find partners for firms willing to create new training alliances. An evaluation has suggested that training alliances in Austria help to improve the quality of apprentice provision. Tax incentives for employing apprentices were abolished in 2008 and replaced by direct subsidies for apprenticeships. The Ministry of Economics and Labour concluded that the tax incentive scheme failed to target companies that would benefit most from additional support for apprenticeships. Under the grant system, the amount of grant received by the employer decreases depending on the year of apprenticeship (decreasing with each year) and on the characteristics of the apprentice (e.g. apprentices facing learning difficulties receive more funding). Employers also receive additional funds for apprentices who excel in the final exams.

Source: Kuczera, M. (2017[64]), “Incentives for apprenticeship”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 152, https://doi.org/10.1787/55bb556d-en.

Recommendation for strengthening work-based learning in initial VET

  • Provide financial support and technical assistance to SMEs in order to increase work-based learning opportunities. School governing authorities should consider offering incentives to set up training associations to share the costs of organising apprenticeships among a group of SMEs. The school governing authorities could also consider implementing targeted grants to encourage SMEs to offer work-based learning. The amount of the grant could vary depending on the characteristics of the learners and on their performance in final exams. The financial incentives should be complemented by technical assistance, which could be provided through the newly formed subnational level councils (see previous recommendation) and/or trade associations. The central government should support school governing authorities that lack the funds or capacity to support or assist SMEs.

Expanding dual studies in HEIs

Poland has an underdeveloped offering of higher VET programmes that involve a strong work-based learning element (OECD, 2018[11]). These programmes typically combine theoretical study with practical application, include work placements and actively involve employers in curriculum design. Across Europe, this type of programme is generally offered at levels 5-6 of the European Qualification Framework (EQF). Examples include the dual study programmes in Germany (offered at EQF level 6) and the Italian short-term professional bachelor programmes (offered at EQF level 5) (Ulicna, D. et al., 2016[65]). Recent legislation has introduced such programmes in Poland, and they are referred to as dual studies (studia dualne). The legislation specifies that the organisation of the studies should be defined in a contract between HEIs and employers, and that the education should be partly carried out in a real work environment.

Several participants in workshop and focus groups expressed enthusiasm for the introduction of dual studies. The programmes could be very important going forward in reinvigorating the educational offering of public higher vocational schools (PWSZ), which are struggling to develop an offering that is consistent with local labour market needs (as seen in Opportunity 2). Introducing dual education could enable these institutions to better prepare graduates for the needs of the labour market.

Poland has introduced some short-cycle pilot programmes at EQF level 5. Going forward, it could take inspiration from examples in other OECD countries (e.g. Italy or Austria) to facilitate the roll-out of dual studies. These are reviewed in the box below (Box 2.12).

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Box 2.12. Relevant international examples: Dual studies in HEIs

Professional bachelor courses in Austria: The Joanneum University of Applied Science

In Austria, dual study programmes are offered at universities of applied science and have become increasingly popular in the recent past. The Joanneum University of Applied Science was the first institution to introduce dual study programmes in 2003. The programmes have generally delivered strong employability for graduates. By 2015, Joanneum had co-operated with about 200 companies in different sectors, ranging from prefabricated houses to medical equipment. Employers were initially sceptical about dual study programmes, but they have progressively become more eager to co-operate. They are involved in selecting the students, designing the learning content, implementing practical learning phases, and evaluation and further development.

Introduction of professional bachelor courses in Italy

Italy introduced EQF level 5 professional bachelor courses in 2010 within newly formed education institutions (ITS). There are currently 75 of these institutions and approximately 350 activated programmes for almost 8 000 admitted students. The ITS have delivered strong outcomes for graduates. According to the latest monitoring report by the Italian Ministry for Education (Miur), 80% of graduates are in employment after one year (compared to 71% for individuals with a bachelor’s degree and 74% for master’s graduates). The ITS are overseen by a foundation that brings together employers, research centres and subnational authorities. Companies are deeply involved in the governance of the ITS: they are members of the participation council, which takes decisions of an administrative nature, and of the directive council, which defines the course content. Every year the programmes are innovated on the basis of feedback from the partner companies.

Source: Ulicna D. et al (2016[65]), Study on higher Vocational Education and Training in the EU, https://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=15572&langId=en.

Recommendation for expanding dual studies in HEIs

  • Provide support for far-reaching co-operation between public professional HEIs and employers. The MNiSW should consider providing additional resources and support to enable public professional HEIs to strengthen co-operation with employers in professional HEIs in the context of dual studies. The MNISW could develop a good practice guide that contains a series of relevant examples to help public professional HEIs expand dual study programmes. The MNiSW should collaborate with sectoral skills councils (see Chapter 5) in developing the good practice guide and in the promotion of dual studies among prospective employers.

copy the linklink copied!Overview of recommendations

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Opportunity 1: Expanding career counselling services in education institutions

Complementing career counselling reforms in schools

  • Ensure that counsellors have sufficient time and motivation to deliver a wide range of services.

  • Ensure that the lifelong guidance system fulfils the needs of school counsellors in terms of access to training, information and co-operation mechanisms (see Chapter 5).

Strengthening career counselling in tertiary education

  • Provide targeted funding and introduce clear standards for the provision of career guidance services in universities.

  • Ensure that the lifelong guidance system fulfils the needs of counsellors in HEIs in terms of access to training, information, and co-operation mechanisms (see Chapter 5).

Opportunity 2: Strengthening incentives for education institutions to align their offer with labour market needs

Supporting and monitoring recent reforms in initial VET funding

  • Strengthen the involvement of local stakeholders in providing useful information for the development of the initial VET funding formula.

  • Develop a graduate tracking system for VET schools through a linked administrative dataset and/or a national graduate survey.

Monitoring the impact of recent HE funding reforms on employability

  • Develop a set of indicators to monitor whether the current changes in the HE funding formula provide sufficient incentives to improve employability.

Opportunity 3: Improving incentives and support for effective teaching

Improving incentives and support for VET teachers

  • Develop a recruitment and retention strategy that builds on a broad mix of qualitative and quantitative evidence and extensive consultations with stakeholders.

Supporting the implementation of the new curriculum in initial VET

  • Implement a structured programme of teacher training on the new curriculum.

Strengthening support and incentives for effective teaching in HEIs

  • Establish a forum responsible for providing guidance and disseminating best practices about the professional development of academic teachers.

Opportunity 4: Strengthening collaboration between education institutions and employers

Improving subnational co-operation between VET schools and employers

  • Strengthen the involvement of local stakeholders in developing the VET offering by expanding existing or establishing new subnational councils.

Supporting and monitoring governance reforms in academic HEIs

  • Develop and adopt a clear set of guidelines for the functioning of university councils in public academic HEIs.

Strengthening work-based learning in initial VET

  • Provide financial support and technical assistance to SMEs in order to increase work-based learning opportunities.

Expanding dual studies in HEIs

  • Provide support for far-reaching co-operation between public professional HEIs and employers.

References

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