Representatives of companies managing special economic zones in Poland met in order to discuss the ways of supporting investors in their search for skilled workers and ways of adapting education to the needs of employers. The meeting, which was held in the Wałbrzych Special Economic Zone “INVEST-PARK” on 20 January, 2017, was attended by Minister of National Education Krystyna Zalewska and Grażyna Ciurzyńska of the Investment Policy Department, who represented the Ministry of Development.
For twenty years, special economic zones have been an effective instruments of stimulating economic growth. In almost every county there are sites covered by the zones. The total capital expenditure of all the tenants has reached almost PLN 120 billion, and almost 280,000 people have found jobs thanks to them.
However, the changing economic reality, particularly on the labor market, makes it necessary to constantly adapt the educational process to the needs of employers. According to surveys conducted by the zones, companies are looking for engineers as well as cutting machine operators, electricians, mechanics, electromechanics and automation specialists. The tenants’ recruitment plans for the next few years will result in the creation of several dozen thousand jobs connected with these professions. New jobs will also be generated by companies functioning in the broadly-defined environment of the tenants as cooperators or suppliers, which is bound to increase the demand for specialists.
The meeting in Wałbrzych was devoted to discussions about actions that will support companies in their search for skilled workers. The role of educational clusters established by the zones will be very important in this area. They currently gather around 300 entities such as companies, schools, local governments and other institutions connected with business. The clusters facilitate cooperation between schools and entrepreneurs by offering apprenticeships and training programs, conducting research projects in collaboration with universities, supporting students’ associations and providing equipment that will be used as teaching aids. One of the most efficient forms of cooperation is classes sponsored by companies functioning in the zones. Over 100 of them have been created in the last two years.
Representatives of special economic zones made the decision to support the new educational policies in regard to vocational education. The changes proposed by the Ministry of National Education are based on strengthening the position of entrepreneurs in the new schooling model. A declaration of support was signed in Wałbrzych by Polish special economic zones, which also plan to intensify their efforts to not only solve the current staffing problems, but also act as a magnet for firms planning to conduct investment projects in Poland.