Two in three companies do not provide vocational training

At the end of 2007, the Central Statistical Office published a report entitled ‘Vocational training in enterprises in Poland in 2005’. The publication presents findings from a nationwide survey carried out in 2006 on a random sample of 18,000 enterprises. Two thirds of companies provide no vocational training. Some 62% of those trained are men. Despite a decline in the number of vocational students and schools, most companies consider their staff to have adequate skills.


Poland’s education system is regarded as being oriented towards general skills, and the institutional links connecting schools and workplaces are relatively weak. Furthermore, since the early 1990s, the number of students in vocational schools has been declining: from over 800,000 persons in the school year 1990/1991 to some 240,000 students in 2005/2006. This development is combined with a diminishing number of vocational schools, from more than 2,500 schools in 1990/1991 to some 1,800 schools in 2005/2006.

Thus, prospective employees face increasingly scarce opportunities to acquire the specialised skills necessary in specific working environments. As a result, nowadays the main burden of organising vocational training rests on companies and the jobseekers themselves, who can apply for some support from their local authorities.

About the study

Aiming to explore the issue of continuing vocational training (CVT) offered at company level, the Central Statistical Office (Główny Urząd Statystyczny, GUS) conducted a nationwide study on the subject in 2006. The results were published in December 2007 in a report entitled Vocational training in enterprises in Poland in 2005.

The project was prompted by the enactment of the European Commission Regulation (EC) No. 198/2006 (88Kb PDF) implementing Regulation (EC) No. 1552/2005 of the European Parliament and the Council on statistics relating to vocational training in enterprises, and was carried out in accordance with the regulation. The survey research employed a standardised questionnaire and covered a random sample of 18,000 enterprises, some 85% of which effectively participated. The reference year for the survey was 2005.

Courses – internal and external – are defined as the basic type of CVT. Other forms of CVT include:

  • on-the-job training;
  • planned training through job rotation, exchange, secondments or study visits;
  • planned training through participation in learning or quality circles;
  • planned training through self-directed training;
  • attendance at conferences, workshops, trade fairs and lectures.

The study also distinguishes initial vocational training (IVT), that is, work-based training activities offered to juvenile trainees aged 16 to 18 years.

Study results

Only 35% of the companies surveyed reported having provided vocational training in 2005, while the remaining 65% admitted that they had not performed any such activities. Courses are the preferred form of CVT by the enterprises.

Most active sectors

The sectors – defined as sections and divisions of the Polish Classification of Activities (PCA) – most active in providing courses were the following:

  • financial intermediation and insurance (J65–66) – 63%;
  • electricity, gas and water supply (E) – 49%;
  • manufacture of motor vehicles (D34–35) – 43%;
  • mining and quarrying (C) – 42%;
  • manufacture of machinery and equipment (D29–33) – 38%.

With a few exceptions, the same sectors were also most willing to undertake other forms of CVT:

  • financial intermediation and insurance (J65–66) – 63%;
  • electricity, gas and water supply (E) – 53%;
  • post and telecommunications (I64) – 43%;
  • manufacture of motor vehicles (D34–35) – 41%;
  • manufacture of machinery and equipment (D29–33) – 39%.

Gender profile

Almost 1.1 million employees participated in various forms of CVT in 2005. Men constituted 62% of the trainees, while the share of female participants amounted to 38%. Proportions between the two sexes were most balanced in sectors such as:

  • post and telecommunications – 46% men and 54% women;
  • activities auxiliary to financial intermediation (J67) – 53% men and 47% women;
  • real estate and renting and business activities with other services (K O) – 55% men and 45% women.

Accessibility to courses, defined as the ratio of the number of participants against the number of employees, was highest in financial intermediation and insurance: 46.3% overall, 47.5% for men and 45.8% for women. The lowest accessibility was found in the manufacture of textiles, wearing apparel and tanning of leather (D17–19): 3% overall, 5% for men and 2.3% for women. Across all sectors, the average accessibility for women amounted to 20.3%, compared with 20.8% for men.

Age profile

Accessibility to courses by age group was as follows: 21.7% in the 25 to 54 age group, 16.3% among those aged less then 25 years and 13.4% in the group aged 55 and over. Employees in the youngest group had relatively better access to courses in sectors such as financial intermediation and insurance (40.2%), post and telecommunications (39.9%) and the manufacture of motor vehicles (35.1%). The workers aged 55 years and over had relatively better access in the two former sectors (36.6% and 33.1% respectively).

Regarding IVT, only 9% of the companies surveyed provided such forms of training. The proportions of enterprises involved in IVT were highest in the manufacture of food, beverages and tobacco (D15–16), at 28%, hotels and restaurants (H), at 19%, and retail trade (G52), at 18%.

Barriers to vocational training

The major reasons cited by employers for not offering vocational training activities were the following: adequacy of the staff’s skills and competences to the needs of the enterprise (79%), company strategy to recruit employees already possessing the required skills and competences (59%), and excessive cost of CVT for the enterprise (29%).


GUS, Education in the school year 2005/2006 [Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2005/2006], Warsaw, 2006 (in Polish).

GUS, Vocational training in enterprises in Poland in 2005 [Kształcenie zawodowe w przedsiębiorstwach w Polsce w 2005 r.], Warsaw, 2007 (in Polish and English).

Jan Czarzasty, Institute of Public Affairs (ISP)

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