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    From Degrees to Disconnection: Poles’ Study Paths vs. Career Realities

    In an ever-evolving world, flexibility is key, particularly in the realm of education and career development. While completing a degree isn’t always essential for a specific job, higher education enables individuals to broaden their knowledge and develop crucial competencies relevant to their chosen field. However, obtaining a diploma doesn’t guarantee professional success, and the choice of a major often proves to be suboptimal only upon entering the job market. According to a study conducted by Hays Poland, only 68% of specialists and managers work or have worked in a field related to their field of study.

    Despite ongoing efforts to foster collaboration between businesses and educational institutions, these actions still seem insufficient. There remains a lack of synergy between the two entities, hindering the alignment of the education system with the real needs of the job market.

    Consequently, many graduates lack practical skills or struggle to apply their knowledge in a business context, making it challenging for them to kick-start their careers. Additionally, there’s often a disconnect between perceptions of working in a particular industry and the reality of it.

    “Justyna Chmielewska, director at Hays Poland, comments, “Some young people only realize after completing their studies and several attempts at working in the field that the profession isn’t suitable for them, offers low salaries, or lacks a promising career path. Others gain experience in a profession unrelated to their field of study while still in education. Many of them opt to pursue higher education without career development plans in that area.”

    Degrees are no longer a guarantee

    Gone are the days when having a degree was a significant requirement for employers. Except for regulated professions, a growing proportion of jobs no longer prioritize higher education. Today, possessing specific competencies such as managerial, IT, or sales skills, industry experience, and universal soft skills is far more valuable.

    Despite this, higher education still garners significant interest among young people. The issue lies in the fact that it doesn’t always facilitate their entry into the job market or necessitates a reevaluation of their chosen major. The latest survey by Hays Poland, conducted in March among nearly 1200 specialists and managers, shows that 32% of them either don’t work or have never worked in the field they studied.

    What contributes to this situation? The largest percentage of respondents within this group (38%) point to the lack of sufficient job offers in their field of study. This could be interpreted in two ways. On one hand, the market might not exhibit high demand for certain professions because they no longer meet current needs. Simultaneously, the issue could lie not in quantity but in the quality of available job offers. Truly attractive career opportunities may be scarce, with high competition among candidates.

    Another factor influencing the inadequate number of job offers in a particular sector could be oversubscribed fields of study:

    “Certain majors may be so popular that the supply of graduates—and thus potential candidates for jobs in that area—significantly exceeds market demand. As a result, among the hundreds of young people entering the job market every year, some struggle to find suitable employment opportunities. They often either opt for career development in a related field or attempt to find temporary solutions. However, practice shows that such solutions often lead to a permanent career change,” notes Justyna Chmielewska from Hays Poland.

    “Education tailored to future challenges should focus on strengthening students’ soft skills, fostering an attitude of continuous development, and creating contexts in which they can demonstrate their talents, natural abilities, and critical thinking. Regular group collaboration, which is useful in almost every job, will also be invaluable,” adds Chmielewska.

    Not without reason, there’s increasing talk about Education 4.0—a concept that advocates for specialized, practical education tailored to market demands. To achieve this, educational institutions should closely collaborate with businesses—organizing training sessions and lectures, establishing agreements for internships, promoting specific industries and positions.

    Why is it worth considering such collaboration? Most professionals with work experience aligned with their field of study cite interests related to that area as their main motivation. Financial or practical issues, such as a large number of job offers, are further down the list. The potential and desire for development are present and waiting to be utilized. However, the success of this endeavor hinges on a shift in the perception of studies and educational direction.

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