Recently I met up with a mixed marriage couple. One of them is Polish and the other one from Panama, but they both have settled down in England. In addition to that, I also recently came back from holiday after spending couple of weeks in my home country. As a result of the conversation with my acquaintances and my trip to my home country, I want to share with you some reflections on the topic of education. My friends and I met up and had a lot to catch up with regards to what has happened since the last time we saw each other. They had not been n in Warsaw in 9 years. One of the topics that dominated our conversation is how much Poland in particular Warsaw has changed in the last few years. They remembered Warsaw in a complete different way: poorly qualified labor, badly dressed people, boring cultural nightlife, dark streets, and little technological development. Poland in general and Warsaw do have changed a lot in the last 9 years.

I encouraged the conversation with my friends by sharing with them that I have exactly the same impression about my home country (although I go back to visit once a year). Each year I go back, I realize every time that there is a lot of change. I have about my home country similar observations as my friends had about Poland. New and modern buildings, roads, people dressed following the latest fashion trends and everyone keeping up-to-date with the most recent technological changes and gadgets. All of those things are important for our societies today because they are a symbol of progress and wealth. However, that is not all. Progress in all of those areas mentioned before shall go in line with responsibility, cultural, professional, and emotional growth of citizens. By emotional growth I mean, they way in which mentality and behavior of our society evolves. Changes in lifestyles, eating habits, etc. things which were not acceptable to our parents, now are for us or vice versa. My friends and I observed that in spite of the distance and difference between my home country and Poland, some of the challenges are still the same: organized crime, corruption in politics, poverty, drugs, alcohol, unemployment, etc.

We discussed a lot around education because my friends as well as I have small children and we wondered what the future in the education area will bring for our little ones. For example, in the case of Panama a very interesting discussion has started in the sense that the government has started to think about planified education. It means that the government starts to work with society, teachers, and students in order to provide guidance concerning the areas in which there is demand for human resource. Orientation is given to society, students and teachers in order to promote the study of fields in which the State is lacking human resource.

Currently in Panama, there is a situation under which for the first time in the history of the country, the demand exceeds the offer. In other words, there more job offers than the amount of human resource available in the country to cover those positions. The reason for that is not necessarily aging of the population, but lack of human resource trained in the areas which are required by the country. For instance, the tourism industry has blossomed in Panama during the last 5 years. There is a lot of demand for professionals in this sector and the human resource available does not meet the market’s demands. Graduates do no posses the skills to cover these job positions or they have simply studied the traditional careers –not a wrong thing to do- but those careers are not under high demand anymore and the existing human resource in those areas is able to cope with the current market needs.

Times have become more sophisticated and it is not enough to study Finance, Law, Engineering or Medicine. Nowadays, there is a high demand to study other types of professional fields and even if you choose to study any of the previous, in order to succeed in the market, you should seek for a non-traditional specialization within your field.

In the case of Poland, I do not think the situation is any different. I think we have a lot of qualified human resource in this country, but often not specialized in those fields where there is a high demand, i.e. high tech or math fields. In the Polish labor market, there is as well an additional complexity: Poland is a member of the EU and the country needs to compete with others in order to encourage its citizens not to leave and accept work places somewhere else. We all know that in recent years Poland has faced challenges because some of its top human resource has left the country looking for more profitable opportunities abroad.

The whole point is that in the middle of a huge global crisis and technological developments, i.e. Twitter, BlackBerry, Facebook, iPads, iPhones, Android, we shall find a moment to reflect and make up our minds as to where are societies are heading. Are we all going towards the right direction and teaching our children the right values? Or have we just turned ourselves into consumption societies where all that counts is how much you are worth?

We all as members of the civil society shall put real pressure on our governments and force them to pay enough attention to the real problems. More importantly, our governments shall start really acting upon those problems in order to bring some visible solutions to the average citizen. The future of our societies relies with our children and we shall start from home at a very early stage setting the right example.

Alma Jenkins