ECONOMY

Most firms tuned in to new requirements in skills and training

A large majority of Greek enterprises seem to be tuning in to the realization that today’s business environment requires the considerable upgrading of human resources with broader skills, and this, in turn, points to the need for an overhaul of present education and training systems. The trend emerged in a recent study by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), which aimed at pinpointing and publicizing the requirements of industry in new advanced skills for the 2005-2008 period. According to the study, 81 percent of enterprises plan to hire new staff with qualifications from tertiary education, while 67 percent see themselves requiring staff with lower qualifications as well. The study shows that enterprises need to continuously train their employees, and consider that this has to be facilitated with tax breaks for themselves and their workers, and a lifting of bureaucratic restrictions impeding the implementation of training programs. Characteristically, 68 percent of the respondent firms declare they intend to train existing staff with tertiary education qualifications. Fifty percent intend to train those with lower qualifications. Responses point to the need for new skills and specializations related to production processes, marketing and sales, financial and quality management, hygiene and safety at work, and logistics. The main factors leading enterprises to seek trained staff in particular specializations are technological and organizational modernization through the introduction of new technology in production and new management systems, and the expansion of activities and the necessary resultant restructuring, particularly in the construction sector. The large majority of enterprises consider it very important for their staff to have a particularly good knowledge of their subject-matter, good communication and entrepreneurial skills, the ability to acquire new knowledge, work in a team and use new technologies, and knowledge of foreign languages. However, a large majority state that the education system does not adequately equip new staff with the knowledge and skills they require. The study proposes that educational and training systems are reoriented to the needs of society and the economy through the incorporation of market mechanisms, the introduction of greater degrees of flexibility and autonomy in educational establishments, and the provision of staggered study programs in curricula catering to the particular preferences of students. Finally, education should aim at promoting the formation of rounded personalities, with in-depth knowledge of their subject-matter and broader skills and abilities.