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Reskilling gaining importance on Hungarian job market

Reskilling and upskilling are becoming increasingly important on the Hungarian job market due to reasons such as labor shortage and the rise of AI and digital transformation, according to a panel of experts at the most recent event of the HR meetup series “Out of the Box”.

The event organized by CX-Ray, Green Fox Academy and The WorkLife Company focused on upskilling and reskilling. The panel discussion took place with Andrea Juhos, executive partner at LHH Hungary as the moderator. Participants included Balázs Fremda, head of HR at Morgan Stanley; Róbert Horváth, head of trainings at Lufthansa Systems Hungária; Ilona Barcza, head of skills and HR Strategy at MOL Group and Éva Gugán; recruitment lead at Accenture Hungary.

In her opening speech, Green Fox Academy CEO Barbara Baráth argued that reskilling will play an increasingly dominant role this year as demand from the employee side is growing. According to a BCG study, 67% of employees worldwide are willing to retrain and a further 29% would do it if there was no other way to keep their jobs.

However, only a quarter of Hungarian CEOs would choose this tool to remedy skill shortages according to a PwC study. The speakers at the event said that the biggest obstacle was that companies in Hungary are not yet feeling the necessity to get involved in up and reskilling programs.

Morgan Stanleyʼs Fremda believed that the labor market will soon force organizations to start taking this issue more seriously.

"It is possible that some companies don’t yet consider reskilling absolutely vital, but this situation is changing rapidly. Today, we are talking about this phenomenon a lot more in Hungary than just 10 years ago," he said.

Accenture Hungaryʼs Gugán argued that the latest trends are slower to reach Hungary as the country is on the periphery in terms of income and the number of employees. Still, she said that the trends will eventually get here.

The experts argued that reskilling programs do not have a long history in Hungary but also noted that companies are doing a lot in terms of raising basic skill levels for their employees in-house.

Accentureʼs recruitment lead noted that employees can choose between 24,000 online courses across 2,700 learning boards at the company. With the rise of AI and digital transformation, people seek to understand machines better and at the same time want to develop their soft skills where robots aren’t competitive.

Morgan Stanley’s head of HR stressed that developing basic skills like presentation or communication skills are just as important as professional courses. Although Hungarian employees tend to be really strong in hard skills, they sometimes lack in these other areas.

Todayʼs butchers, confectioners to become tomorrowʼs technicians?

The panelʼs experts agreed that continuous self-development and learning are key to be able to keep performing our current jobs, as the jobs are set to change in the near future.

According to Lufthansa Systemsʼ Horváth, IT is a special case in this regard as programming languages keep changing. Lufthansa tries to always keep their employees prepared to use an updated version of the programming language they use.

Accenture has an initiative called Agile workforce to help employees gain new skills or try them in practice. Employees can use an internal platform to post their projects in need of support in any given area. Gugán herself was interested in data visualization and hence joined a data visualization project, solving small tasks and upgrading her skills. One of her colleagues used the platform to fulfill her dream of working abroad by recruiting coders in Mexico.

MOLʼs Barcza thought that the greatest challenge is to prepare for new market challenges. The company has built a new petrochemical factory in an Eastern Hungarian town, creating 200 new jobs. The lack of qualified local workforce posed a serious challenge for the company as they were unable to fill several technician positions. They found butchers and cooks who liked to tune cars in their backyard, and established a reskilling scheme for them.

All panelists agreed that internal reskilling for white-collar colleagues was much more common. IT Young Professional, a joint program by Lufthansa Systems and Green Fox Academy is also open for external applicants, whereas Morgan Stanley’s Return to Work especially targets professionals seeking to return to the job market after a multi-year break, possibly from an entirely different field. Horváth mentioned that landscape architects, astrophysicists, and social workers have participated in Lufthansaʼs program.

Senior management support needed for reskilling

The panel also participants discussed where the responsibility lies in answering the growing need for reskilling. The experts agreed that HR divisions and senior management actually share this responsibility. Morgan Stanley’s head of HR said that serious commitment is needed from senior management to operate a successful reskilling program.

"Whatever HR might do, these programs cannot succeed without the active, not just passive support from management," said Fremda. The eventʼs audience, made up of HR experts, agreed: some 70% said it was a shared responsibility.