Friday, June 11, 2010

Providence Project – Final Meeting

‘All Things Must Pass’ - This week saw the final ‘Providence’ Leonardo Partnership meeting in Poland. Powiatowy Urzad Pracy(PUP) in Siemianowice, Slaskie (Silesia) hosted over twenty representatives from the various partner countries with four LMC staff representing the UK; Janet Hargreaves and Pauline Love represented the e2e department of LMC, Natalie Crossley Integrated Employment and Skills section with myself John Latham fronting the business side of the Leonardo Partnership.
On the advice of our Polish colleagues and considering the recent flooding in South Poland we set out with our umbrellas and Berghaus kit from Liverpool bound for Katowice Lotnicky (about 100km from Krakow). What greeted us in Poland wasn’t only the much appreciated transfer to Siemianowice arranged by our PUP hosts but also beautiful blue sky with temperatures around 30C.
The good weather continued throughout the 4 days of the partnership meeting with a temperature of 34C on the final day.
We met all of our fellow Providence Partners on the Monday evening in the hotel with appropriate refreshments and our first taste of intercultural dialogue ;-)
Tuesday was an early start when at 08:15 all the partners were whisked off to the Wojewodzki Urzad Pracy w Katowice (WUP). This is the regional labour office that supervises the local labour office, our hosts. We were presented with an overview of the educational systems of Poland relating to retraining and regional perspective on unemployment. The systems have to be flexible to cope with unemployment fluctuations and the decline of core industry in the area such as coal mining, steel manufacturing and the automotive industry. The ability to offer retraining and start-up opportunities was essential in the traditionally industrial based area of Silesia. The recent global crisis also affected the local and regional area with some recent signs of recovery.
The lightning fast presentations were followed by a trip to the Jano meat processing factory. Who said that European trips weren’t all glamourous! OK this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, especially when it is over 30C outside but a sausage is a sausage after all. The skills needed to become a meat processor follow the principle that certain levels of competence have to be achieved as guided by the Chamber of Craft. Part of the courses involve at least some aspect of entrepreneurship and general study, a theme which followed on our visit to MOTO-TEST garage. It seems there are two basic levels of qualification designed by the Chamber of Craft and to employ people or train people in any given profession the business owner of trainer must reach the higher ‘Master’ of craft level.

After lunch we visited the Guido Mine in near Katowice.

Coal hasn’t been mined here since the 1960’s but the experience reflected the industrial heritage of the area and the problems it will face in the future as the natural resources deplete and inevitably the mines close. Poland has no nuclear power stations and relies entirely on coal to provide its energy. So much so that it now imports a proportion of its coal from other countries!
More from the final meeting soon - including the International Bowling Competition and Krakow explored...

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