About the Region

  • The Zilina region in Slovakia has long been perceived for its focus on transport, IT and medical sciences thanks to its quality universities, their links to business entities and international cooperation.
  • In these terms, fields of technical sciences as well as electrical engineering and telecommunications, ICT and robotics, are well advanced. In parallel, Woodlands cover 50% of the region, therefore forestry plays an important role. The energy potential is mainly represented by wood biomass in the region.
  • The system of adult learning in Slovakia is fragmented and is currently developing in several streams.
About the Region Image

Thematic Orientation

Existing Sub-Sectors

The Žilina region in Slovakia has long been recognized for its emphasis on transport, IT, and medical sciences, owing to its quality universities, their connections to business entities, and international cooperation. In these areas, fields such as technical sciences, electrical engineering, telecommunications, ICT, and robotics are well advanced. Simultaneously, woodlands cover 50% of the region, making forestry a significant player. The energy potential is primarily represented by wood biomass in the region. The developmental changes in the Slovak labor market are shaped by the national project SRI. The system of adult learning in Slovakia is fragmented and is currently evolving in several streams. According to its governance, lifelong learning is a fundamental principle of education and training applied in the country’s educational system. Adult learning policy is formulated at the national level and is not developed at the regional level.

Key Trends Influencing Innovation

National project SRI  Sector-driven Innovations identified several key changes in labour market, considering specific needs for each sector. Also, requirements for specific qualification on sector basis were set. The main innovation & technological trends include: 

  • Precision farming techniques, organic farming practices, and the rise of social agriculture. 
  • The food industry is witnessing a shift towards functional and personalized foods, complemented by business automation and digitization. 
  • In forestry and wood processing, robotics and smart technologies are enhancing efficiency, while virtual reality is revolutionizing training and design. 
  • The pulp, paper, and printing industry is embracing digitization, smart packaging, and AI to optimize resource use and improve quality control. 
  • Construction is moving towards automation, digitization, and sustainability
  • Waste management sector is transitioning towards sustainable solutions, circular economy principles, and advanced digital technologies.

Expected Sub-Sectors / Value Chains

In accordance with the Social and economic development plan 2021+, the Žilina Region plans to implement the principles of Bioeconomy and prepare to achieve the goals of the European Union.

  • Implementation of Bioeconomy principles in the region.
  • Involvement of the region in innovative projects in the field of Bioeconomy.
  • Incorporation of Bioeconomy principles into regional public procurement.
  • Support for building a network of product reuse centers in the region.

Opportunities for advancement (Growth, Career, Social etc.)

The opportunities for advancement lay in the main integrated development trends domains that include:

  1. Sustainable and competitive primary agricultural and forestry production resources.
  2. Production of safe, health-supporting foods with high nutritional value and added value.
  3. New technologies of mechanical, chemical and energy processing of agricultural and forest biomass into products with high added value.
  4. Complex technologies and systems for reducing the negative impacts of agriculture activities on the environment, protection and sustainable use of land and water in changing climatic conditions.

Governance, Education levels & Skills

Governance structure in adult education on Bioeconomy, or on the wider topic of sustainability (Higher Education, Vocational Training etc.)

  • Existing Policies – Strategies / No specific policies – strategies
  • Governance Model – Regulation – Legislation
    • School Education
    • Further Education
    • Structure: Two ministries involved (Education, Labor) and Inst. lifelong learning
    • Adult learning policy: Decided at National level Plus Regional initiatives
    • Not concrete list of skills related to the use of new technologies, sustainability circular economy etc. 
    • Not a prefecided National Funding

Organization of Adult and Lifelong Learning

  • Main providers 
    • Schools & Universities
    • Private Institutes
    • NGOs
  • Curricula develops
    • State Education Program (general)
    • School Education program (specific)
    • Sectorial strategies (on a case by case basis)
  • Duration of the programs: Varies according to the specific program (e.g.  [2y follow-up, or 2y qualifying, or 6m refresh, or 2-3y specialized and/or highly professional programs
  • Learning forms [Dual, Part-time, Distance, Regular] [Requalification, Interest based]
  • Requirements & Fees: Varies on a case-by-case basis

Available Research on Bioeconomy Education

Not specifically dedicated on Bioeconomy Education.

Main Training, Retraining or Lifelong Learning on Circular Bioeconomy and/or the wider topic of Sustainability

  • Slovak Agricultural University
  • Technical university in Zvolen
  • AgroInstitute Nitra (Dedicated program Plus 5 Erasmus+ and one H2020 programs)
  • National Forestry Center
  • Slovak Chamber of Commerce
  • Slovak Technical UnivversitSlovak Chamber of Agriculture & Food
  • Sloval Fotovoltaik and RES Industry Association 
  • Regional Initiatives (4 Initiatives)

Available Research on Bioeconomy skills needed

Sectoral strategies for human resource development resulting from the national project Sector-driven innovations Investigated Sectors.

Elaborated OECD document on: 

Skills Strategy Slovak Republic – Assessment and Recommendations” 

Linking Art & Bioeconomy Education

Bioeconomy education in which Art concepts are applied

  • Art as a stimulus of the needed skills
    • Institute of Circular Economy (INCIEN)
    • Circular Slovakia (member of the consortium CIRCO)
  • Art addressing learning styles [Not available examples]
  • Inspirational case studies from Art to Bioeconomy Education
    • Institute of Design, Faculty of Architecture STU in Bratislava
    • Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava   
    • Divadelné centrum 
  • Injecting the Bioeconomy in design, art, architecture, etc. professions 
    • Creative centre of the Slovak University of Agriculture 
    • Slovak Green Building Council 
    • Trvalo udržateľná architektúra – ARTUR (Sustainable architecture)

Marginal Groups

Working with which marginalised, disadvantaged, minority groups is prioritised?

  • In terms of target group priorities, the Lifelong Learning and Guidance Strategy 2021-2030 defines as 1 of the main areas of intervention the support of selected target groups, namely specific support for the low-skilled
  • The lack of specific skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and the persistent long-term unemployment among marginal groups are main weaknesses

Relevant Jobs and/or Opportunities for Inclusion of Marginal Groups

  • Services, construction, manufacturing
  • Agriculture, food production, catering services
  • Hunting and forestry
  • Trade
  • Craft activities 
  • Textile and clothing production
  • Services related to tourism

Main needs of individuals of marginalised groups integrating them into Bioeconomy

  • Cognitive skills, such as systems skills (judgment and decision-making, systems analysis and evaluation)
  • Basic skills (reading, writing, critical thinking)
  • Complex problem-solving skills
  • Higher-level skills (verbal and quantitative skills). 

Conversely, there is a surplus of lower-level skills, such as stamina or physical strength

Existing educational/development activities for marginalized groups for Integration to Bioeconomy activities

  • Active (and/or past) Labour Market Policies
    • Young jobseekers – NEET
      • Training for young people
      • Take your chance
      • Training of young jobseekers
      • Work experience to employment
      • Graduate Traineeship starts a job
    • Volunteering, internships, scholarships, extracurricular activities
      • Increase knowledge and skills 
      • Organizes local, national and international projects for young people 
    • Disadvantages jobseekers
      • Activation of disadvantaged jobseekers
      • Individualised counselling for disadvantaged jobseekers
    • Jobseekers with health disadvantage
      • Support for personalized counselling for long-term unemployed jobseekers 
    • Activation work
    • Integration social enterprises
  • Initiatives of Employers
  • Social Services provided by various types of Organizations
    • Community Centres

SWOT Analysis

STRENGTHS

  • Significant production potential of the region in forest land and water resources
  • Structure and character of agricultural enterprises - concentrated agricultural production
  • The multifunctional nature of the forestry that provides amount of biomass, biomaterials, bioproducts and fillings important ecological functions
  • Inclusion of the majority of forests in the economic category forests
  • Improvement on the exploration of the unqualified staff
  • Increase of employment / available job positions
  • Existing Educational Initiatives in the domain
  • Existing lateral opportunities, Life-Long learning, Vocational training, mass information, etc
  • Partial overlapping between the Bioeconomy Education Institutions and Art related institutions

WEAKNESSES

  • Lack of a National/Regional Strategy on Bioeconomy
  • Not fully valorized resources and products
  • Inconsistency and fragmentation of policies relevant to the area bioeconomy and the ambiguity of its position and role in development policies
  • Lack of a National/Regional Plan aiming to achieve the defined goals
  • Not existing Educational Strategies in the domain
  • Fragmentation of activities and priorities. Lack of an organizational umbrella
  • Life-long learning programs, requalification programs, programs for skills development of vulnerable/disadvantaged groups funded from structural funds
  • Not available a dedicated research on Bioeconomy Education

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Development of business activities in the countryside and creation of new value chains within the circular Bioeconomy
  • Growing demand for biomass causing the need to increase production
  • Increasing the contribution of the forestry and timber sector to the green sector of the economy
  • Efficient use of resources, mitigating climate change, production of renewable energy, low-carbon economy
  • Strengthening advice on topics in the field of Bioeconomy
  • Potential expansion to new sectors
  • Increase in the share of domestic production with higher added value
  • Use of digitization and innovative technologies
  • Benefiting from the existing general educational background
  • Perspective to extend the existing Education Initiatives in a regional scale
  • Further exploration of opportunities on social and educational and career levels

THREATS

  • Bioeconomy solutions will not be from an economic point of view more effective compared to fossil-based products
  • Access to wood raw material – increased competition for wood as a raw material, especially due to the growing demand for renewable energy
  • Departure of executive scientists due to lack of continuity of funding
  • even though the marginalized groups are identified and initiatives are taken for each category, there is a lack of a concrete National plan aiming to their integration

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