Together with a number of content partners, AFS is convening the AFS Global Conference under the topic “Global Competence: Our Future, Our Responsibility” in Budapest this September. Dr. Andrea Juhos of Lee Hecht Harrison Hungary and the American Chamber of Commerce Hungary (see more below), is one of the distinguished speakers who will address hundreds of leaders from different sectors who will gather at the conference. We thank Andrea for sharing her insights on global competence in this interview.

How well do the current education systems prepare young people for the 21st century workforce?

It is difficult for the current education systems of the world to prepare young people for the future and there are a number of reasons for this.

First of all, it is almost impossible to know what businesses will look like and what jobs there will be in 20 years from now. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary schools today will end up working in jobs that do not yet exist. Second, teachers themselves are often not knowledgeable enough to deal with the upcoming changes in the world of business so how would they be able to prepare their students for this?  And mind you, it is not their fault.

I strongly believe that it is the role of governments to make the teaching profession attractive to talented young people and to support teachers to constantly upgrade their expertise, both professional and technological.

So the short answer to the question is, no, I do not believe that current educational systems around the world prepare youngsters for the 21stcentury well, and we have to do everything we can to change that. One of the first steps must be focusing much more on developing the soft skills of students: self-knowledge and self-reflection; critical thinking, empathy, collaboration and last but not least, curiosity.  Digital competencies must be developed too and the ability to speak foreign languages, especially English is also a must.


What is the private sector’s role in supporting global competence development?

We at the American Chamber of Commerce strongly believe that the private sector has great responsibility for supporting the education of young people.

Companies in Hungary and in the Central Eastern European (CEE) region spend a lot of resources on developing their staff with a special emphasis on their talents or high potentials. But we go further than that: our volunteers, the top executives as well as line managers of our member companies regularly visit primary and secondary schools to talk to students about the importance of language skills, the role of self-awareness in finding a profession and the need to remain life-long learners even when they have finished their formal education.

Needless to say, teachers who are also present at these sessions find them very helpful and encourage our volunteers to return. With this in mind we have designed an on-line “match-making” platform where teachers and our volunteers can meet, discuss the need and prepare for the sessions together. I am sure that this cooperation between schools and the business community will contribute to the creation of a future-proof generation of young Hungarians.

Dr. Andrea Juhos is the Managing Partner of the Hungarian affiliate of Lee Hecht Harrison, the world’s leading career management and leadership development company. She is also the Chair of the Competitive Workforce Taskforce of the American Chamber of Commerce in Budapest, the mission of which is to improve the country’s competitiveness through various educational programs. She is also the President of the Board of Salva Vita Foundation supporting people with disabilities re-enter the labor force. Andrea holds the Certificate of Senior Executive Coaching and Mentoring from CIPD, the world’s largest Chartered HR and development professional body based in London.