Talent management in the digital age

Talent management in the digital age

03/2018  | Reading time: 12 minutes

The practice of talent management, which covers different tools and methods in discovering and developing talented students, has a long history worldwide and in Hungary particularly, due to the care teachers have given to gifted children ever since the establishment of the school system. Of course, the efficiency of this area is closely dependent on the general quality of education, and the development of education has been at the heart of pedagogical and psychological research recently. 

Educational systems, based on old principles and goals, are already in need of reforming, not to mention the challenges and opportunities schools, including the area of talent management, should meet because of digital development. In this article, we try to address these challenges and give an overview about the general environment for talent management in Hungary.

But what do we mean by talent? Earlier, a number of theories were created by specialists and psychologists to rank children according to their mental abilities. Students with high scores according to these scales share general characteristics like a desire for knowledge, intense concentration, excellent memory and quick problem solving. This definition covers a kind of general talent and intelligence, which, as the models developed, was included a larger focus on genetic determinants and environmental factors as well. At the same time, it is well-known that everybody possesses some talent that is worth exploring within the general educational curriculum, which should also help to unfold it. For example, artistic talent is understood in a specific field of activity, and these special skills are usually nurtured most effectively in art schools and in special classes.

One of the most exciting question in many respects is how will education and talent management be affected in the technology-based society? Experts agree that digital devices provide a great deal of opportunity, but their inappropriate use can counterwork its benefits. Digitally-adapted pedagogy increases the student's motivation and thus promotes effective learning. It is very important, that through different digital devices (tablets, and smartphones), students learn about the use of the internet and develop competences which are necessary for succeeding in the future. The biggest challenge here is to make students use the internet actively, not passively, and show them how they can transform the virtual world for themselves and become content creators. At the same time, it is also important that children should be protected from digital danger and violation. 

Digitally-adapted pedagogy increases the student's motivation and thus promotes effective learning
Source: Shutterstock

Foreign experts and influencers alike agree that the most important guiding principles of the digital education should be the following: make learning interesting, respect individual talents and promote development. As Sir Ken RobinsonSeth Godin and a number of educational experts noted, today's educational system was created during the industrial age via a method to drive efficient factory work and consumption, and consequently fuel the engine of economy. In the new digital world, however, people will succeed at the workplace with skills like adaptation, creativity and the “think out of the box” attitude. 

The main question is: how have schools worked so far and how should they work in the future? Experts often criticize the conservativism of educational systems, their fear of digital devices, and the lack of teacher motivation and entertaining education. The first place for PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test was gained by Estonia in 2017 (after long years of Finland’s lead), where this result was a consequence of a continuous 10-year long development in education. In 2015, thanks to the e-Estonia program, the entire education system was transferred to an electronic platform. This is in part due to the fact that in recent years Estonians have focused much of their EU funds on education, and the teaching profession has gained much more respect. Since the invention of the e-platform, teachers, students and parents can exchange homework on internet platforms, agree on meetings or give feedback on the tasks more efficiently. Though the system is not perfect yet, it is clear that years of consistent work has paid off and Estonian education can meet the challenges of the digital world. These measures have created an educational environment in Estonia that also promotes talent development. 

In terms of talent management methodology, enrichment is one of the most commonly used methods in European countries, meaning that talented students can get extra tasks (lesson differentiation), or may deepen their knowledge in the specific subject with study groups. Depending on teacher’s capacity, these methods are widely used in Hungarian schools as well. At the same time, individual problem-solving and small group projects are still not used in Hungarian education, and the school system must make a big leap in this area. In more developed countries it is known that small group tasks based on cooperative learning and individual project work develop creativity and determination. The positive impacts of social facilitation, multi-faceted problem-solving, and debates are all advancing talents. However, these methods are typically missing in a classroom’s frontal education.

Individual problem-solving and small group projects are still not commonly used in Hungarian education
Source: Shutterstock

Another common method is acceleration, which means that one or more years are missed out in school, and the talent learn in higher classes than the others of the same age. In Hungary, this method is used very rarely, and only in foundation schools, although it is a common practice outside of Hungary for talent management. Unfortunately, the rigid system prevents this acceleration and hinders the advancement of exceptional talents. At the same time, in the middle and higher education, we are among Europe's top players in the field of national and international study competitions, as there is an extremely active and diverse competition life in the country. In the case of art education, special classes of outstanding talents are the main tools of talent management. Moreover, technological development offers a wide range of new opportunities that can be effectively used for the digital age's talent management. Based on the latest research, two new methods will be implemented: individual learning with digital devices and individual instruction (mentoring) methods that can be effectively combined with the above mentioned talent management methods.

Today's talent situation in Hungary and abroad are linked at several points. The European Council of High Ability (ECHA) was founded in 1987 as a network to exchange information and bring people together about research and practice with talented people. In 2012, Péter Csermely, a professor at Semmelweis University, who has been successfully studying networks and talent support, was appointed president of ECHA, while he also chaired the National Talent Council in Hungary, founded in 2012. This organization has built up the Hungarian Talent Support Network model, with more than one thousand talent points in the country, which are dedicated places for the special education of talented students. The Hungarian Talent Support network aims to coordinate and help these talent points (mainly public schools) with information, professional trainings and books. These talent points create an ideal environment and conditions for teachers to support talents through efficient methods and enrichment tools.

In AJKC's talent management programs, we try to create an environment for participating students where they can work and learn in a collaborative, creative way. Our programs for high school students includes summer camps, trainings for career orientation, company visits and useful activities to do the mandatory voluntary service. We work with a new kind of educational approach, which is based on sharing opinions, common learning, experience and cooperation. Our trainee positions, open to university students, give an insight into the life of a think tank, and students can make a productive contribution to the research centre's work.

Creativity and adaptation will be essential in future jobs.
Source: Shutterstock

By recognizing the challenges in the education’s situation and the urgent need to solve shortage in the labor market, like the ever growing need for computer programming experts, many domestic organizations and companies have been involved with digital talent management. Logiscool has integrated coding into after school activities, and the franchise now already teaches programming for children between 6-18 years in 7 countries. Another great example is Skool, a program of the Technology Education Foundation, which offers technological classes for girls between 8-18 years.  Also the primary schools of Budapest School, founded by one of the owners of the most successful start-up in Hungary, Prezi, where elementary students are preparing with a new kind of student and teacher-centered approach for a happy life. Another Prezi-founded program, Bridge Budapest, offers a program for college students and recent graduates which connects them with internship opportunities at the world’s best companies. Additionally, Bridge Budapest provides training specifically designed to pass on an entrepreneurial mindset to children. 

A technology-based internet society changes the way expertise will be disseminated: through online training, all knowledge becomes available, the era of traditional top universities expires, and more and more professions will be replaced by robot work. The successful professions will be replaced by creative ones where it will not be enough if you are smart and talented – creativity and adaptation will be also necessary. It is no longer the collection of good test results which will matter, but the ability to connect and adapt, which means that talent management should also foster these skills in the future.

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