In Western Europe, human capital is being handled more efficiently. We still have much to learn, says associate professor Pawliczek

Have you ever heard the term Talent Management? Associate Professor Adam Pawliczek has long been dealing with this issue and we have asked him about its particularities and how it affects universities and companies.

In Europe, we are witnessing efforts to create uniform educational standards, the implication being that degrees from individual countries would therefore carry the same weight and graduates would have comparable knowledge. Education takes varied forms, however. How does Czech education differ from education in foreign countries?

It would make sense to unite something that we are convinced is truly outstanding. Diversity, on the other hand, breeds innovative approaches. Every one of us is now experiencing the pros and cons of globalization at first hand. Why should education be an exception? Let us appreciate national specifics as well as proven practices and adopt with great caution only what may genuinely enrich our lives.

Can unified education facilitate the work of recruiters and HR departments when recruiting new staff? Or does this uniformity have a negative impact on the diversity of abilities different graduates possess?

The quality of education is determined by the personality of teachers and students. The idea of ​​absolute uniformity is illusive. Let us note that from a thermodynamic point of view, complete unification is equal to death (S = 0). Particularly in higher education, there will always be prestigious and less prestigious schools, reflecting the environment they operate in, regardless of the quality management systems we employ. We also need to differentiate between the labour market of skilled and unskilled workers, which are two entirely distinct environments.

According to Michael Armstrong, a leading expert in management and human resources, Talent Management is the process by which a company verifies that it has qualified employees to achieve its goals. How does such an evaluation work?

It is largely the know-how of a given organization. If this process is to be successful, however, there must be a balance in what the organization expects and offers. The key here is good communication and alignment of the organization's strategies with the personal goals of employees. In that case, synergy may occur and something extraordinary may be created. We should keep in mind that a company is only as good as its people.  

How does Talent Management view the skills of employees? What is the key factor — the skills an employee currently possesses, or the potential for further education?

Employees possess a certain mix of intelligence, empathy, education, work experience, will and value creation potential. Maximum productivity is undoubtedly a matter of harmonising the employee-company relationship, and it takes time. From the point of view of a financial manager, who is supposed to minimize costs, however, there is not much room for manoeuvre.

Do Czech companies succeed in filling vacancies with talented people? Is Czech Talent Management different from foreign one?

Here, vocationally oriented study, which is also offered by MVSO, plays an important role. Talented employees prepared to fill key job positions do not just “pop up” haphazardly. At least a significant portion is the "product" of education, which has quick feedback on the practice in a field they are to operate in. I believe that Talent Management in "strong-on-capital” foreign countries is less hectic, more sophisticated and places emphasis on building the talent of staff already employed by the organization. In our country, it is still very often the case that “not good enough” workers are being dismissed needlessly while “better ones”, and cheaper ones, of course, are being sought to no avail. Moreover, we should realize what the wage levels and purchasing power are in our country, compared to Western Europe. An advanced civilization is characterized by understanding and respect for the individual.

Who is involved in the Talent Management process? The role of universities and the corporate environment has been mentioned — can the state or individual regions, for instance, participate somehow?

In these overregulated times, it is hard to imagine the state and the regions not being involved. This applies to the EU community as well in that it redistributes public money for certain purposes and it supports certain fields and organizations, etc. The question is whether and how these mechanisms reflect real premises and whether they function or do not function for the benefit of the labour market, employees, companies.

The academic and corporate spheres will always compete for the most talented students. Who has the upper hand currently? Do quality students stay in academia, or do they leave for companies, following the prospects of financial and other benefits?

With a few exceptions, academia has no chance of competing with the rates of pay talented individuals have in the industrial sector. Salaries for employees with a PhD and to some extent even for associate professors are on the verge of system collapse in academia. At the same time, the demands for qualification growth and for merely staying in the system are constantly increasing. Or does anyone think that the salary of an academic with a Ph.D. roughly corresponding to the one a shop assistant in a supermarket earns, and the salary of an associate professor comparable to the one of an elementary school teacher is motivating? The situation speaks volumes about the long-term political attitudes of the ruling structures towards education, though it is up to all of us to build up our own picture of the matter.

Is there any university related Talent Management strategy in the Czech Republic?

Government strategic documents do contain elements of Talent Management, of course, but as far as I know, there is no comprehensive Talent Management strategy in the Czech Republic. And why would there be? — considering that from the EU's point of view, retaining talented employees within nation states is not desirable. For instance, we should not forget about the shortage of doctors and nurses and their outflow to Germany, where they have several times higher salaries.

Universities base their activities on interconnecting research and education. What do you think is more important for universities and how does it affect Talent Management?

At least for the past 15-20 years, there have been efforts in Czech higher education to build on three pillars (at least in fields where it is relatively easy to do): education, research and practice. Without practice, there is no transfer of know-how from companies to academia, which becomes detached from reality eventually and the relevance of education it provides decreases. In my opinion, only the dynamic interconnection of all three pillars can have a profound impact on good Talent Management at universities.