Since its establishment, the Faculty of Economics and Administration has been organising lifelong learning courses for the public as well as for faculty partners from the private and public sphere. Why is lifelong learning important and what can the faculty offer? Petr Valouch, a Vice Dean for Distance Learning, Life-long Learning and Quality, answers in this interview.
Why are lifelong learning courses important and how long has ESF been providing them?
Nowadays, lifelong learning is a prerequisite for professional success in almost all fields. Since its establishment, the faculty has been involved in various forms of teaching for other target groups than its students, whether they are employees of specific companies, entrepreneurs, public and local government officials, or the general public. In recent years, we have sought to strengthen lifelong learning even further, recognising that as the number of our graduates and partners grows, so does our commitment to supporting them throughout their professional lives.
Who are the lifelong learning courses for?
For anyone interested in learning about economic and financial topics. We are able to prepare custom-made courses for specific companies as well as thematic courses responding to current needs arising from today's complex economic and legislative situation.
What can lifelong learning courses provide to the participants?
Above all, a competitive advantage. Education is a key to success in the highly competitive environment in which most businesses operate today. Similarly, in the ever-changing legislative and economic environment, continuing education and following the latest innovations and trends is necessary in public administration and local government. We can offer all this to our partners and course participants.
What does this type of courses bring to the employers?
Employers who enable their employees to develop personally via education gain more loyal and satisfied workers in the long run. However, there is also a need for specific support in the form of study leave and the like. Successful graduates of our programmes show that this path pays off. In addition, the faculty also offers potential candidates the opportunity to continue their studies in professionally oriented accredited bachelor programmes in a combined form, i.e. while working. Therefore, ideally, participants in the lifelong learning courses can also gain their bachelor's degree.
What types of lifelong learning courses does the faculty offer?
There is a wide range of courses on offer. It ranges from long-term study programmes tailored to specific companies that have a clear vision of employee development to one-off courses for the general public. For example, there are currently two-year study programmes for employees of the insurance company Generali or for the Slovak branch of DM drugstores. In one-off courses, we are able to cover specialized topics such as accounting, taxes, logistics, marketing, management, project management, working with data and spreadsheets, controlling, data visualization and, last but not least, professional language training.
Lifelong learning also includes various preparatory courses. For example, courses focused on aptitude tests enable middle school students to increase their chances of being admitted to university. It also includes the education of senior citizens at the so-called University of the Third Age.
Is there a course that is especially unique?
I don't think that’s possible to say. It always depends on the requirements of specific clients. However, educational courses that make the most of the potential of our university and thus provide insight into interdisciplinary issues can be certainly described as unique. This is how, for example, the Management in Pharmacy course was created, which we organise in cooperation with the Faculty of Pharmacy MU, and which is intended primarily for graduates of pharmaceutical faculties who have now established themselves in their field and are moving into management and other important positions in pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies and so on. In addition to the core pharmaceutical topics, they can also study the economic context of management, marketing, financial management, accounting, and taxation. This knowledge then enables them to understand their new professional role more easily.
Are some of the courses taught in English?
Yes, for example, the Prince 2 project management courses are taught entirely in English. We have also conducted training in English for several shared service centres in the area of international accounting standards and tax contexts. However, we can also do a hybrid where, for instance, at the request of one HR department, we prepared training materials in English but actually trained in Czech because the HR department was not quite sure that their employees could handle the training completely in English. However, they wanted them to be familiar with English professional terminology during the training.
What is the potential of lifelong learning courses in the future?
It is a pity that the potential for cooperation between companies or other entities and universities has not yet been fully utilized in the Czech Republic. In our country, higher education is perceived more as a supplier of new workforce. However, as is evident from our activities, universities are able to offer much broader services in the field of education of employees, entrepreneurs, civil servants and other groups. We believe this area has huge potential in the future and look forward to its further development.