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Svetlana Stojšić, Regional Manager, WiFi International

Knowledge Knows No Bounds

WIFI International has been providing education and training for adults worldwide for 30 years. Together with its partner network, it supports Austrian companies operating in more than 10 countries of Central and Southeast Europe, including the states of the Western Balkans, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria

Modernising vocational education and training, while promoting the acquisition of sector-specific skills for future professionals, will drive economic development and innovation at local, regional and international levels and increase the competitiveness of the sectors concerned. That is our future.

We spoke to WIFI International regional manager Svetlana Stojšić to find out, among other things, how far WIFI International’s influence extends and in which countries it is active, what it offers and how its programmes are designed and adapted to local markets and local conditions, but also to the type and size of company receiving assistance.

Could it be said that the existence and activity of WIFI International is based on the idea that knowhow, good educational programmes and educational standards should be shared and disseminated? Is this also a way to strengthen the economy?

The Economic Promotion Institute is a department of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), the legal representative of the Austrian economy, to which 551,826 companies from the fields of crafts, trade, industry, banking and insurance, information and consulting, tourism and the leisure industry, transport and communications belong. WIFI means Economic Development Institute, and the name is to be taken literally. The economy is provided by WIFI with knowhow that is relevant in practice. Companies benefit because:
• WIFI serves as a platform and knowledge broker – in the fields of advertising, public relations, internet, new educational products, technologies and innovation;
• WIFI works as an international interface – for knowledge transfer, international programmes and new training concepts.

WIFI International is a department of the business development institute WIFI, which is active in EU projects and supports Austrian companies with its international partner network in the training and further education of their subsidiaries abroad.

WIFI International also aims to develop innovative training programmes that follow the trends of the time and the needs of the economy

At the same time, project-related training solutions are offered within the framework of training alliances in the focus countries, above all in CEE and SEE, but also beyond the borders of Europe in Asia and Central America, wherever Austrian companies have their branches.

WIFI, for example, serves an estimated market potential of about 470 million inhabitants in Central, Eastern and SouthEast Europe alone. The scope and extent of the offer has expanded greatly over the decades – and continues to grow.

Through the qualitative education offered in all sectors (courses, seminars, training courses), WIFI International promotes the standard of education locally and thus covers the economic demand for qualified workers. The higher qualification of employees contributes significantly to competitiveness.

The professional development measures, trainings, are tailored to the needs of the customers and are implemented in the respective national languages – considering the national culture – based on our scientifically founded WIFI learning model LENA = living and sustainable.

The offer ranges from tailored seminars and courses to industry-specific training in the white collar and bluecollar segments. Together with Austrian companies with branches in the target countries, WIFI is also involved in exporting the successful Austrian system of dual training.

The constant changes the world is facing require lifelong learning, improvement and adaptation. What kind of knowledge, skills and abilities are valued today? What is essential for progress?

Modernising vocational education and training, and promoting the acquisition of sector-specific skills for future professionals, is absolutely central. This will drive economic development and innovation at local, regional and international levels, as well as increasing the competitiveness of the sectors concerned. In this context, “Lifelong Learning” is very important. WIFI International also aims to develop innovative training programmes that follow the trends of the time and the needs of the economy. Digitalisation, innovation, sustainability, values and ethics are important topics.

Through the formation of knowledge alliances between international educational institutions, institutions and companies, entrepreneurship, creativity, employability, knowledge exchange and practice-oriented teaching and learning are promoted.

One of the most effective measures to counteract the shortage of skilled workers is to step up training and further education measures

More than 40% of jobs in Europe will change dramatically due to digitalisation. In order to be able to meet these current events, also with regard to COVID-19, the vocational education and training (VET) of all companies should be adapted to the needs of the labour market: accordingly, Continuing Vocational Education and Training (CVET) will be crucial to meet the new challenges.

There is a shortage of highly qualified personnel and skilled labour in Western Europe. Can this problem be alleviated through further adult education, retraining, courses, specialised training etc.?

To quote Tatjana Baborek, Director of the Austrian Institute for Economic Development, “well-trained professionals are the engine of economic growth. WIFI International is the #firstpartner for lifelong learning and customised educational offers in vocational education and training”. The shortage of skilled workers is a burden on the economy, and companies are already suffering greatly. There is now not only a shortage of skilled workers, but of workers in general. The consequences are serious, companies are reporting turnover losses and the effort required to find personnel is becoming ever greater and more difficult.

In my view, one of the most effective measures to counteract the shortage of skilled workers is to step up training and further education measures. Through qualitative education and training offers, educational standards are promoted and thus cover the economic demand for qualified workers, in order to counteract the shortage of skilled workers, not only in the medium term, but also in the long term.

Another important lever against the shortage of skilled labour is continuing education within the framework of in-company human resources development. For a company, the first chance to counteract the shortage of skilled workers lies in its own staff. Find potential skilled workers within the company and give them the opportunity for further development (retraining, further training offers etc.).

The measure of securing skilled labour related to both employees who already work at the company and those who will join in the future. Investing in one’s own resources creates a working atmosphere and quality of work that is appreciated by both existing and new employees.

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