TalentJourney – A Lifelong Journey towards Knowledge

In the second TalentJourney press conference, which took place on  22th of October 2021 we talked with the director of the Velenje School Center, Mr. Janko Pogorelčnik about the TaletnJourney project.

The school year has just begun, and the challenges of the future lie ahead. What is the current situation at the Velenje School Center?

SC Velenje is a large system: we have four secondary schools with 1,620 students in 27 programs. Most professional programs are upgraded by five programs at the Vocational College. For cooperation with companies and work on projects, we have the Intercompany Training Center (MIC), where every year hundreds of participants benefit from the educational opportunities we offer.

In addition to the formal education you have listed, do you also provide non-formal education, training, courses?

At the School Center, we work strongly with the economy and the local environment. On the one hand, this is due to the needs of companies, and on the other hand, this allows educational programs to be constantly updated and supplemented. The various projects we are working on help a lot. Adult training programs in the Munera and Athens projects are very current, we also run a number of courses for the unemployed, training for companies such as welding courses, CNC technologies, automotive technologies, electrical installation work and the like. In the field of secondary education, we are involved in a multitude of projects where we improve and update secondary school curricula. Special mention should be made of mobility, Erasmus projects, which enable us to send students and employees for short internships abroad and thus raise the quality of our work.

It is important that we keep in touch with companies and work with industry, and that we know the needs of the labor market well. In higher professional programs as well as in high school programs, we have quite a few employees from companies, and there are even more in functional education.

Do you co-create courses / trainings with these companies?

Of course, companies have their own specific needs, and when we talk about training programs for them, we have certain options, and we discuss with companies the form and content of training, depending on what companies need for their work environments, technologies and competitive operations on the market.

So it is very important that you keep in touch with current technologies at all times – how are your employees prepared for constant changes and innovations?

The best thing that happened in vocational education was that students started going on internships in companies. The school needs to follow industry trends, so close collaboration between the school and businesses is needed.

Are the projects you are working on at ŠCV also related to this?

Yes, all projects certainly have added value, be it gaining (international) experience, exchanging good practices, maintaining constant contact with the economy, technologies. Among other things, innovations in the field of education, preparation of educational curricula – business people must say what they need in their companies and based on this, good curricula can be created.

Does the European Union or the European Commission offer support in this?

Yes, at the EU level or in specific, The EC takes a huge number of initiatives for innovation in the field of education, in the form of various structural funds – e.g. European Social Fund for Human Resources Development, Literacy Development, European Regional Development Fund for Community, Cities, Regions – Infrastructure Investments, Horizon (R&D) Projects for More R&D Institutions and the Erasmus + Program, which mainly supports activities in the field of education, training, youth and sport in all sectors.

It is at the Erasmus + program that a new initiative for centers of excellence in vocational education has emerged. You are active here too. What can you tell us about this?

The European Community has a common thread in every financial perspective. The red thread in the period from 2007 to 2014 was the mobility of young people, then the employability of young people, and currently the current centers of excellence. The European Commission has found that a great deal of innovation comes from the professional level, so they have paid special attention to this and provided certain resources for the development of such centers of excellence. Together with international partners from Slovenia, Italy, Finland, Germany and Estonia, we applied for the tender and were successful in the idea of ​​a center of excellence in the field of IOT (internet of things) – the project is called TalentJourney. This is one of five selected pilot projects across Europe.

Is the Internet of Things some new technology in the industry?

The Internet of Things is probably one of the fastest growing technologies in manufacturing, as it allows modern companies to reduce the required number of workers, thus effectively reducing costs and automating the entire work process.

With the help of electronics, internet connection and sensors and other hardware, the devices can communicate with each other and exchange data. They can also be observed and controlled by humans remotely.

What is the role of the Velenje School Center in the TalentJourney project?

Co-creating new approaches, developing new learning content, testing new technologies, connecting with companies. The contents and teaching methods prepared within the TalentJourney project will help our students to leave us with current knowledge and experience, so that they can get involved in the work processes in companies as quickly as possible. Changes in education are also related to this.

How is the Velenje School Center connected to the local / regional environment?

The SAŠA region is facing a major challenge of restructuring, the transition from fossil fuels to green alternatives (closure of TEŠ and Premogovnik), and the large number of lost traditional jobs. New jobs will need to be created. The employees will need to be transformed, improved, and offered new knowledge, and this is the mission of the Velenje School Center, both locally, regionally and outside the region. Such projects offer us an insight into the future, into new jobs, professions that are yet to come and knowledge that we still do not know about today, but we are co-creating together.

Is the TalentJourney project coming to an end this year?

The pilot project is nearing completion. It lasted for two years and ends in October. The story of TalentJourney, however, is definitely not over. Based on our experience, the European Commission has realized that a lot of work will be needed in this area and that EUR 400 million will be allocated to centers of excellence over the next seven years. We hope TalentJourney will be part of this story as well.

So can we conclude that the Velenje School Center is ready for the future?

We strive to provide up-to-date knowledge that our high school and university students are and will be ready for the professions of the future – both professionally and with soft skills (communication, teamwork, flexibility, self-initiative) and green skills (how to mitigate negative impacts). climate change).

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