There are nearly 4.5 million people employed in Hungary, the unemployment rate is far under the EU average by 3.7 percent from 2018, and the number of employees may increase in the country in which education and training will have an important role. A new vocational training model will be introduced from 1st of September 2020. Please, inform our readers about this education reform connected to vocational training.

There was a very well working and successful vocational training before the regime changes, but it failed with the regime. The regime fell apart, therefore the education needed new foundations. Not just Hungary, but other countries were affected by this process as well after the regime changes. We tried to implement elements of German dual training to this vocational training structure and reflected it in creating a new vocational training system with the support of the Government. The Government listened to the Chamber´s opinion so that the Chamber took control over the dual training that involved preparation of the curriculum. In our opinion, we need to focus on a demand-oriented vocational training to meet and satisfy the needs of the labor market. The variable sector demands motivated us to ask and involve business leaders in starting a well needed training on the labor market. On the other hand, we are trying to make a bridge between vocational training and university education. By this, we would like to encourage talented students who want to study more and get a chance to take part in university education.

 

Could you confirm it by a practical example?

If someone is a skillful turner and would like to improve his theoretical skills, there is a chance to gain higher or engineer education. By this, we would like to make professional learning more attractive and ensure the student's regular income. We are aware, that vocational training is more attractive to students whose parents have a lower budget, therefore, in these cases, a student needs to gain a monthly income for better socialization. Students can manage their own money. We have reached that more students are enrolled in a vocational training system than in high school. This case has not been visible until this time, so the labor market will be more effective. I have to mention that this includes infrastructure development, so it is worth to build a sports hall or a swimming pool near vocational training centers by reforming vocational training and merging institutions. Thus, vocational education can become more attractive in some places with the development of a business economy. The main point is to regain the honor of work by this reform from September 2020.

 

Would you like to make this all of national importance and size?

This new model will expand to most of the vocational education centers. The secondary education has 4 levels in Hungary: an education with special needs, or disadvantaged ones, education of physically or mentally handicapped that affects nearly thousand students, the second is a vocational training, when we teach one profession and its basics, the third level involves vocational secondary schools, with technical education for 5 years and in the last year student is studying the real profession, the fourth is a high school education.

 

Recently, we have seen that four countries of Visegrád represent a big force in the political platform of Europe, and have become an important factor during EU negotiations, so having higher meaning outside of our region. Unity and cooperation are visible. Can we say the same about the economic cooperation of Visegrád Four with respect to Chambers of Commerce?

We have a very good, friendly relationship with all Chambers of Commerce at the presidential level. Currently, political cooperation is very powerful, therefore in this way, we need to develop and build economic relationships and cooperation. There are serious infrastructural cooperation agreements ahead, which negotiation is in a process. Significant progress has been made in the field of energy. There are clusters, where the organic part of this cooperation has already started, for example, the Slovak Hungarian automotive cluster, or the other part of the industry. We have huge opportunities regarding cluster cooperation with differences at the same time in our natural abilities, but in this way, we can make each other´s economic life stronger, and these differences encourage us for further cooperation. The most important thing is to have a strong economic background beyond political cooperation!

 

The change is expecting in the automotive industry next year, which means the rise of electric cars. Are you prepared for this change and what will be a result?

The change will come for sure soon or later. We do not know yet the speed and the direction it will go. The question of hybrid cars will be decided in near future. Portfolio and research development are in German hands, that seems good. We have to be prepared by secondary or adult education, training for changes. We have built an automotive test track in Zalaegerszeg, with the aim to attract development and research in automotive to Hungary. Tests are following by further steps. We need to be prepared. Every country needs to react to this process, but we do not know yet, in what way and how it will happen.

 

Mr. President, in an earlier interview you mentioned, that Hungarian economy is in an exploding power. How can you confirm the truth of your claim in August 2019?

The fact is, that there was a change in the growth-stimulating economic policy of Hungarian Government in 2013, the Hungarian economy is reaching a permanent high speed expanding, as it increased 4.9 percent last year. Our economy aims to exceed the expansion speed of the European Union by 2 percent. We strongly criticized the Government as a Chamber after 2002. Therefore, we got to a conflict with the Government. This conflict became rough. Hungary lost 10 years after the regime change, and a big lag characterized our country along with incorrect economic social policy, compared to other countries of Visegrad between 2002 and 2010. Putting the economy in order had a big price, the transformation had a cost between 2010 and 2013, but we are on a growing and booming path from 2013. There are no negative macroeconomic indicators, the public debt is continuously decreasing, GDP is permanently high, unemployment is extremely low, the retail saving continuously rises. I do not know about a development that is not among Europe´s best. The evolution of the external economy is a big question, whereas like in other post-communist countries, countries with a bigger economic system will have an impact on us.

 

Mention some sectors, where the mentioned explosive power is detectable!

I would mention mainly the automotive industry, which is improving nicely despite uncertain factors. I think the range of suppliers is very important. We know that the automotive industry is foreign-owned, but domestic companies can get enormous opportunities via the supply chain. I could continue by the list of communication technology, information technology, informatics, and the digital world. Tourism, development of agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare is very powerful in Hungary. A powerful economic system was built on the ruins of post-communist regime change. I would highlight the medium-sized domestic businesses, that are a part of a well-operating economic life. A well-working car factory needs a tire import and component manufacturers or maintenance. This is how a healthy chain can develop slowly: various services, family businesses, hairdresser, wellness and more.

 

Besides excellent economic developments and businesses, are there any challenges and dangers that are important to keep in mind?

There are many threats. We still have many unanswered questions. How will the world economy and the American trade war develop? Europe fell behind the digital world. Japan, China, India is leading in this area even in the aerospace industry. The earlier position of Europe weakened against great powers. The issue of labor cost in V4 countries seems equally challenging.

 

Mr. President, as Industry Reports are a Czech-owned professional journal, we are very interested in your opinion about how you appreciate the Cech-Hungarian relationships and coworking, because the Czech President Mr. Zeman has recently visited you.

I had an opportunity to invite Mr. Zeman for dinner when he was officially in Hungary. Mr. President made a good impression on me. I knew a lot about him, but after we met personally, I received new impulses from him. Czech and Hungarian economy are in a very similar situation, even in their terms of size. It is true, that we are not neighbor countries, but we are not far from each other. The political system in the Chez Republic was more rational, and wise at the time when we had another government in power. I have experienced, that Czech Republic took much better control and held its industry, in development and improvement made better steps, while Hungary made a lot of mistakes. We could not protect our traditional industries. I see that the economic life development of the two countries will be similar. We have a huge potential in the field of energy and the nuclear industry. Hungary is going to invest in this area, and Czech Republic has serious experiences in industrial and manufacturing capacity. It is necessary to nurture our friendship and cooperation. This is proved by the fact that Mr. President Zeman came with entrepreneurs with whom they had a professional meeting in the Paks Nuclear Power Plant after a day of dinner.

 

My last question is about the use of nuclear energy: Do you think that the use of atomic energy is the most efficient way to develop and produce energy?

Based on our current knowledge, yes, but we do not see clearly what will be cheaper, atom energy or something else. We do not know what they are preparing behind the scenes on an industrial extent. The steam energy is not well-known. It seems to me, that the use of atomic energy is still the most efficient in electricity production.