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Dream schools and dream careers

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary and the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency held their second annual summit on competitive education this week, inviting high school students to share their vision of how they imagine the future of education and workplaces.

Dream workplace winners, Waking Dreams Co. from Bálint Márton Elementary and Secondary School. (Photo: Lázár Todorof)

An important pillar of AmChamʼs 19-point strategic working plan that aims to improve Hungaryʼs competitiveness concerns the fully-fledged reform of education. To that end, a nationwide competition called titled “#YouCanDoBetter” (“#TudszJobbat” in Hungarian) was launched as part of a joint initiative with HIPA, under which students were asked to send in presentations about their dream school or workplace. The contest was staged for the second time this year, and a total of 66 applications were filed in the two categories. 

At the summit, which in part honored the award winners, AmCham president Ferenc Pongrácz welcomed the crowd by pointing out that the barrier of entry has disappeared in many industrial segments. “Youngsters have access to the same platforms as celebrities, which holds the promise of vast opportunities for self-expression,” he said. “AmCham prides itself on gathering the coolest companies from the country, and students participating in the contest have the chance to meet their representatives in order to gain key information about them,” he added, referring to the fact that after the ceremony several firms could be contacted on the spot at stands in the hall.

István Papp, the vice president of HIPA, co-host of the event, explained to the audience that HIPA is dedicated to bringing as many quality jobs to Hungary as possible. “Competitiveness depends mostly on how great the education is and, finally, students are now engaged in shaping theprocess, which cannot work without them,” he said.

As for the dream workplace contest, two general approaches were embraced by applicant teams. One was an overall description of how an organizaton is supposed to work. The other method was to demonstrate the ideal set-up by introducing a particular, privately-owned imaginary firm like a café or a beauty shop.

“Entrepreneurship is highly valued by AmCham, and accordingly, we provided the teams with a book called ʼItʼs fun to run an enterpriseʼ,” said Andrea Juhos, an AmCham board member. “Following this spirit, the winner was a team that chose to go down this path.” The award went to Waking Dreams Co. from Bálint Márton Elementary and Secondary School, because its application put the emphasis on the clear assignment of tasks, social inclusion, and performance-driven assessment.

The dream school category saw similarly inspiring applications; methodology as well as creativity were among the most appreciated factors by the jurors. The winner, Kosztolányi Dezső Secondary School, presented its work called “The Future is Ours”, which featured social sensitivity and a logic for progressive change to be achieved by small steps.

The awards ceremony was followed by a roundtable discussion where students, teachers, industrial experts and government representatives exchanged their thoughts. “Two- thirds of current students will have jobs that are not even around yet; take the example of body part designers or garbage designers,” said state secretary Dr. László Palkovics. “Therefore, a valid question is how do you get students ready for something that doesnʼt exist. The clear purpose of education cannot be anything less than making them able to apply knowledge and to acquire the ability to learn.”

On the basis of the input from participants, a package of recommendations will be put together with the hope they will be implemented in the future.