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Péter Csermely | Dávid Harangozó

The talent researcher

D&T
March 21, 2013

Having established the Hungarian National Talent Support Council in 2006, internationally renowned biochemist and talent researcher, Professor Péter Csermely talked to a recent issue of Diplomacy & Trade presenting Hungarian personalities.

The
European Conference on Talent Support organized during the Hungarian EU
Presidency adopted a declaration on the importance of promoting talent. What is
the afterlife of this initiative/declaration?

The
Budapest European Talent Center, established in the spring of 2012, is a hub for
forming the European Talent Support Network. In October 2012 a sequel of the
conference was organized in Warsaw,
Poland. Talent support is increasingly recognized by European Union
policies. A Written Declaration is open for signatures for European Parliament
members to help talent support initiatives in the continent. So far, 120
European Parliament members have supported this proposal. If more than 378 EP
members sign the proposal until 19th February, it will give a strong
basis to include talent support as a priority in EU policies.

What
can Hungary get from Europe in this area and what can it give in return?

Europe has
great traditions of supporting its talents. First and foremost, our gain in Hungary
comes from the richness of European approaches. We learned a lot from the best
talent support practices of other European countries and continue to do so.
Moreover, Hungarian talent support initiatives receive a support of EUR 35
million from the EU between 2009 and 2014. 
This help was extended by EUR 15 million from the Hungarian Talent Fund
between 2010 and 2012. This latter amount was received from tax donations of
more than 270 thousand citizens and from the national budget. As a result, a
large talent support network was established in the whole Carpathian basin
having close to a thousand Talent Points and involving more than 200,000
people. 24,000 new talents have been discovered and helped during the two years
of the Hungarian Genius Program alone. The Hungarian achievements in talent
support increasingly serve as a best practice for those who want to develop a
nationwide talent support network in other European countries or elsewhere. We
have several inquiries each week from countries like China, the Czech Republic,
Germany, Latvia and the United States. Last September, I was elected to be the
president of the European Council of High Ability, which has been an umbrella
organization of talent support activities in all European countries since 1987.
This will give an additional intensity to the connections between Hungary and
Europe in this field.

In
December, the new Talent Bridges program was launched. What are the sources of
support and what sort of outcome do you expect from this?

In 2006, 16
of the most important Hungarian NGOs of talent support established an umbrella
organization, called as Hungarian Talent Support Council. This council was
recognized by the government, and in 2006, Parliament passed a resolution on a
20-year long Talent Support Program. The Hungarian Talent Fund mentioned
earlier supports this program. The Talent Bridges program is the direct
continuation of the Hungarian Genius program mentioned before. This program is
supported by EUR 7 million of EU funds between 2012 and 2014 and is intended to
reach small villages which have not been reached by its predecessor. Besides
discovering and aiding more than 50,000 talented young people, it will also
help the utilization of talent in the industry and in the society.

The
Talent Bridges program extends theoretically up to mid-2014. Is this work likely
to continue afterwards?

Plans for
the period between 2014 and 2020 are currently being formulated. Plans to help
talented people received a strong support from various segments of the
Hungarian society including small and large firms operating in the country.
Several examples showed that complex talent support programs combining
talent-friendly solutions in schools and extracurricular enrichment programs
are the most efficient. The network of Talent Points in Germany, Hungary,
Poland
and other countries saves a lot of money, since a Talent Point does not need to
be excellent in all areas, but may “transfer” the talented student to another
Talent Point. The larger the program, the cheaper the per capita costs will
become. The proposed continuation of the Talent Bridges program will spend only
50 EUR/person/year between 2014 and 2020. This is not really an expensive
effort. However, we will include 240 thousand talented young people, which is
around 10% of the given population. The secret of efficiency is unequal
distribution of support. Some people need more, while others may excel with
less. A network of Talent Points and their local Talent Support Councils may
decide in a rightful manner, which intensity level (and costs) of support is
required for the particular talented person. A good talent support program is a
mutual commitment giving support but asking intensive efforts (and a later
involvement in volunteer work) as a return.

What
are the more remote goals of Hungarian talent support?

Creativity
and novel solutions are much needed to solve the various environmental and
economic crisis situations of our century. Hungary is getting close to becoming
a talent friendly society. We hope that our country will set an example for
many more countries in Europe and elsewhere, how to discover and mobilize their
hidden talent reserve and how to change the current talent deficit and
"talent war" to a richness of talents.

D&T

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