TUD18: Creative trainings for the employment of local residents at the airport area –
Interview with Tamás Sulyok (King Sigismund University) and István Sum (Association of Adult Education Providers)
by Zoltán Zarándy
Between December 2016 and April 2017 the TUD18 Training Coordination Office - located at 317. Üllői út - funded by Norway Grants is providing trainings aimed at assisting return to the labour market. King Sigismund University (KSU) and the Association of Adult Education Providers (AAE) are responsible for the educational and professional content of the trainings.
On the occasion of launching the programme, we would like to share with our readers the opinion of the training programme's leading experts, Tamas Sulyok, Senior Lecturer (KSU) and Istvan Sum, board member of AAE on the content and background of the programme, as well as on its expected benefits.
What led to the involvement of King Sigismund University and the Association of Adult Education Providers in an international labour market development project initiated by the Municipality of 18th District?
KSU: the idea is based on a cooperation that was started previously. For years, our University has actively been involved in the training series named Senior Citizens' Academy organized by District 18. Our institution also operates adult education programmes at different levels: we offer Bachelor programme (BA) and Master programme (MA) in andragogy; however, in this project, supported by Norway Grants, both participation and professional challenge emerged.
AAE: the members of the Association of Adult Education Providers are committed to supporting the objectives of lifelong learning and they take active roles in supporting adult population trainings. In cooperation with King Sigismund University the programme was designed to greatly support thematic vocational qualification, in this way promoting the success of the participants in the labour market.
How does the project fit in the scope of programmes offered by the institutions?
KSU: one of the primary profiles of our University is training professionals for adult education, as well as development in the field of adult education with various directions and content. In addition to adult education, we also train professionals in economic areas, including the field of human resources (HR) as a specialty of the institution. In addition, there are several specialists and lecturers participating in the TUD18 project, who contribute to the success of the TUD18 project with their extensive experience in the world of work. Besides, our University has participated in several EU projects, balancing the needs and skills of labour-market participants as the main direction.
AAE: in recent years we have participated in European Union programmes; this experience provides a good basis for participating in the Norway Grant project. Our member organizations perform curriculum development and training tasks, provide labour market information, promote the spread of voluntary work and the use of renewable energy in adult education systems. In addition, AAE supports the spread of digital educational platforms and methods in adult education.
What professional basis is there for the offered training areas and how are applicants selected for the programmes?
KSU: the programmes are designed according to the results of a questionnaire survey and interview series conducted for several months, aimed at discovering training demands and needs. During the survey, several participants were interviewed, for example the leaders of major airport companies, the senior officers of local governments and offices, but we also performed surveys in respect of the opinion and needs of several target groups in the general public.
In terms of selecting the persons for the trainings of the project, our primary criteria were selecting employees and prospective employees, who, as a result of the training, will later have the opportunity to be employed, or can improve their performance and in this way they can stabilize their status at the workplace. However, in my opinion, the companies, the municipality, the offices and the trainers participating in the project or joining the project later can also profit from this cooperation in the long run.
According to their different profiles, the two institutions have separate tasks to implement in the training programme. The Association of Adult Education Providers provides professional training courses, while the University promotes general competence development training programmes. The professional training area primarily includes courses on Machine Operator training and Transporting Special Materials - both related to airport operation - while the competence development trainings assist employees and companies in various fields, independently from their work positions. The latter trainings include improving communication in English, IT applications for the office, leadership training, stress management and project management skills.
AAE: the basic issue for all labour market trainings is selecting the area of specializations to be offered to adults and identifying the developing areas with good employment opportunities. There are two assisting factors in making this decision: one is the analysis of labour market information, the other is the labour demand of employers regarding prospective professionals. The EEA analyzed the educational market, examined the supply and demand sides and conducted interviews with the KSU during the process of mapping employers' needs in the given area (the airport). As a result of the interviews - with regard to the possibilities of the project- two training specializations were selected. Both trainings fit the profile of logistics companies operating at the airport.
The "Training for machine operator of material handling machine" (forklift driver) course awards an NQR certificate; businesses in logistics and warehousing look for a high number of professionals with these skills. The other specialization area prepares the participants for office activities, therefore it is primarily recommended for ladies. Denomination: "Transportation coordinator for temperature-controlled, oversized and overweight goods" other professional qualification. High level pre-education is not required for the forklift driver training: the programme is designed for employees with completed primary school education. Entering the coordinator training requires a high school graduation certificate and basic knowledge of English.
Which training programme emphasizes innovative content and innovative technical elements?
KSU: involving various target groups and offering them empowering solutions should definitely be highlighted - although in the case of projects supported by the Norway Grant it is a basic requirement. Important target groups are: young graduates, women returning to work after maternity leave, women in employment, the unemployed and the age group over 50. For them, we intend to supplement the programmes by special methodology.
However, there is another special feature of the training methodology. The new training centre established in District 18 received a special IT-support: the Samsung Smart School system. This system is aligned with today's modern IT-based learning solutions and is an important tool in reinforcing motivation for training.
AAE: the training material of the transportation coordinator training was designed to be suitable for distance learning as well, so even those participants are able to complete the course who cannot regularly attend classes due to raising small children, or for any other reasons.
How is labour market/economic development potential and cooperation generally perceived by airports and big cities, especially by Liszt Ferenc International Airport and District 18?
KSU and AAE: coexistence arising out of the geographical situation necessarily generates a situation which can be beneficial for both sides. In my opinion, an airport is a sector of economy that continues to be a significant potential due to global processes. It is true that airport operation is changing and this process should be supported by the appropriate developments, out of which human development has an outstanding role in the process. The training centre established within this project is suitable for setting up a very effective training programme in cooperation with airport organizations and other companies. However, as in many areas of life, rapid change requires rapid response. District 18 is capable of recognizing and monitoring changes through existing processes and infrastructure. The airport, as a stable economic operator, may offer cooperation in the long term.
What minimum education is required for the application, and what are the realistic chances of future employment?
KSU and AAE: the minimum entry criteria planned to be required for the training programmes is a high school graduation certificate. This was established as the specific inner requirement of the project. This education level is primarily necessary because airport operation often requires such extra knowledge and skills from the employees which is present with secondary education or above. Naturally, it does not mean that a person with less education may not have the skills for working at the airport, but setting the level at the school-leaving examination as a requirement is more likely to result in successful training.
There are job openings at airport companies continually, but the positions cannot always be filled by district residents. This is often due to the fact that the expectations of employees and employers are different. This project is aimed at filling in the gaps and eliminating the deficiencies. The greatest success of the project will be if several of the residents taking part in the project find work.
How would you advertise the project to an 'average' resident in the district?
KSU: in my opinion, not specifically as a participant of the project, but as a professional working in higher education, one should take every opportunity. Such a project and the inherent networking options are beneficial for everyone. You never know who, when and where may find the proper solutions. However, if one does not take any actions to find the most suitable training method, there is little chance for success. This project offers an opportunity for progress in career and it is worth trying. Even if this training fails to result in direct success, it still provides a shift to progress in a direction, which is a definite help.
AAE: the basic issue for all labour market trainings is selecting the areas of specialization with good employment opportunities. When designing the training courses, this time there were two factors that helped: the analysis of labour market needs and employer demands, which is a guarantee for success.
After this relatively short term – from May 2017 - what main plans are there to maintain the major results of the project, and what role will be assigned to the institutions?
KSU: during the maintenance period, we plan to continue operating the training programmes and to support the operation of the training centre. Thankfully, other participants of the project hold the same opinion. The project also includes formal obligations in this respect. In my opinion, the role of the university could be providing professional and methodological support for the training centre. Steps have already been taken in this respect, and a strategy is being developed, as well as the content of plans for further operation. The other role is maintaining cooperation with labour-market participants in the capital; converting the emerging needs into trainings and development. This offers the university long term possibilities for the implementation of its own goals, and helps to maintain the project goals in the long run.
AAE: after the completion of the project, we are willing to support the district's new training centre, mainly in the area of curriculum development, while our member organizations are ready to implement new trainings on the basis of the developed teaching materials.
Further information: www.tud18.hu