Talent as the future of Europe (2)

14. 09. 2016

From left: D. Montgomery, G. Zisimos, D. Rušinová, M. Zachar, M. Wolfensberger, B. Hekkema

The two-day international conference on the fostering and development of talent, which took place on 12 – 13 September 2016 in Double Tree by Hilton hotel in Bratislava, continued with presentations in several sections during its second day.

The introductory part was focused on the reporting of individual sections done during the first day of the conference. The following took the floor in the expert panel entitled Joint Development of Talent:

Diane Montgomery (professor emerita, Middlesex University)
Georgios Zisimos (senior fellow in the field of education policy and vocational training of the EU, the European Training Foundation)
Dana Rušinová (executive director, Coalition for Children Slovakia)
Marián Zachar (director, National Office of the programme International Award of the Duke of Edinburgh in Slovakia)
Marca V. C. Wolfensberger (chair, European Honours Council – EHC, professor, Hanze UAS & Utrecht University)
Ben Hekkema (coordinator, MoccaAcademie)

Slovakia was represented by Dana Rušinová and Marián Zachar. D. Rušinová, who is the CEO of the Children of Slovakia Foundation and president of the Coalition for Children Slovakia, informed about the area of rights and needs of children and young people. The foundation supports a variety of activities for all groups of children and young people with access respecting individual needs and the development of their talent. Education projects of the foundation are aimed at strengthening the skills of professionals working with children and young people, especially teachers, and foster inclusive education in Slovakia.

M. Zachar, who is director of the National Office of the programme International Award of the Duke of Edinburgh in Slovakia, presented opportunities for helping as many young people succeed in life.

Section Talent as the Basis of Business was focused on fostering the development of talent in relation to the needs and demands of the labour market, the benefits of activities fostering talent realised by the government and institutions active in this field for the business sector, activities and improvements in the area of fostering talent, which needs to be realised in order to synergise operation, as well as examples of best practices.

Kenneth Ryan (managing partner, KPMG Slovakia)
Oldřich Vaňous (member of the board, Junior Achievement Slovakia)
Jari Jokinen  (director,  Academic, Trade union of the Academic Engineers and Architects TEK, Finland)
Ian Oliver  (Head of the Creative Entrepreneurship division, Centre for Creative Practices)
Menno Bart (specialist in public affairs, Adecco Group)

In section Talent in Practice, the participants presented the experiences and stories of young, talented and successful individuals.

Emília Petríková (student of medicine, researcher, 2nd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague)
Chew'n lose – Aleš Manica, Kristína Kráľovská, Petra Pangrácová, Patrícia Halászová, Natália Hamadejová (students, secondary school Trebišovská 12, Košice)
Michaela Brchnelová (student, Delft University of Technology)
Armin Vincentius Fabian (temporary representative, Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network, YP-ETSN)

Emília Petríková (left side) a Michaela Brchnelová

Slovak scientist Emília Petríková is 21 years old and she is dedicated to the research in the field of oncology. She is a medical student at Charles University in Prague. She has gained experience at the Mayo Clinic, the University of California, Berkeley, USA, as well as at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She has been dedicated to research since fourteen years old. Her work on the effects of aspirin as an adjunct medicine in the treatment of cancer has attracted considerable interest. She has won numerous international awards thanks to her research, including the special prize from the European Union’s Contest for Young Scientists and silver medals at the International Young Inventors Project Olympiad (IYIPO). She also represented the European Union at the largest international science competition Intel ISEF. In addition to research and study, she organises several international scientific events, gives lectures at universities and reviews publications in the field of medicine. She talked about her story, what brought her to science and motivated her. To contrast, she said a story of a talented young man, who was not sufficiently motivated and ended up on the street taking drugs. She made a number of suggestions on how to work effectively with young talents. She also collaborated in the creation of the Bratislava Declaration (to Support) Young Researchers (more in the e-newspaper Scientific Kaleidoscope).

A group of students from Košíce – Aleš Manica, Kristína Kráľovská, Petra Pangrácová, Patrícia Halászová, Natália Hamadejová presented their project entitled Chew’n lose! Chewing gums for weight loss are safe for diabetics, improve the immune system and have other advantages. 

Michaela Brchnelová is a student of aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology in Netherlands. In the past, she has won several awards, including the first place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair – Intel ISEF 2014 in the category of physics and astronomy. In recognition of her research, a minor planet was named after her – 31462 Brchnelova. (For more information, see the portal SCSTI Science within reach) she presents her work at conferences around the world. She is currently working on the research aimed at simulating plasma synthetic jet propulsions to reduce the friction of the aircraft. In addition, she is actively involved in organising various activities and events for younger students aiming to encourage them to study science and technology. In her speech, among other things, she highlighted the need for more and more young people, who will develop their talent. Curiosity should be their driving force. We have to offer them challenges, foster and encourage them in their materialisation.

The final speeches were given by:
Sophie Beernaerts (European Commission, Directorate-General for Education and Culture)
Evarist Bartolo (Minister for education and employment, Minister for Education and Employment of Malta)
Ivan Hromada (Head of Unit, Education, Youth, Sport, Permanent Representation of Slovakia to the EU in Brussels)

They stated the successful achievement of the conference’s objectives aimed at creating a platform for expert discussion on fostering the talent and gift, with emphasis on the area of education and vocational training. The idea was also spreading awareness of the need and potential for development of talent, profiling views and positions on this subject, not only within academia, but also among the wider professional community at European level. According to their statements, the best examples from across Europe, experiences of the professional development of talent in practice and new inspiration were beneficial.  

After the conference a facultative excursion to Aurelium Science Centre in Bratislava was held. Experiential Science Centre is based on the idea of the easiest learning through experience. Visitors could see and try exhibits from various areas of science, such as mathematics, chemistry, mechanics, robotics, automation, as well as many others.

Discovering new products for the practice is not only linked to research. Creativity and talent are both equally important. Everyone has in himself/herself a hidden reserves and potential to be good at something. That is why the main theme of the Slovak Presidency in the education sector is to foster and develop talent. Slovakia, as the country holding Presidency, tried to encourage progress in this direction at European level.

Compiled by: Mária Izakovičová a Marta Bartošovičová, SCSTI
Photo: Ján Laštinec