Speed vs acceleration of competence growth

Although in some situations it is still strength that matters, most people understand that having competitive competences which we can sell on the market is of key importance.  Businesses have also already understood that on the current employee market, it has become a very expensive item of trade. 20/2018(26)

Polska wersja artykułu: Szybkość a akceleracja przyrostu kompetencji

An explanation of what competences are could take hundreds of pages, therefore in this post I am going to assume that everyone has a more or less intuitive understanding of their core.

Some employees or potential employees have completely useless competences, others have some which will become useless in a few years but there are also those who have very much desired competences. Most often, the number of such people is too low, therefore companies are making efforts to reach them as soon as possible and on the other hand to support development of competences which are needed on the labour market. Generation of a bigger amount of a generally available product leads to lowering of its price and thus reduces the costs of the company’s functioning.  Schools and universities are the most obvious incubators of people with desired and ever higher competences.


Speed in the change of competence level


The first step on the market in missing competences is to cause their increase.  We want a situation where firstly more people have them and secondly their level improves.  We should make efforts to cause a growth in needed competences (C – competences).

The speed at which the competences grow (R – rate) is also important. It can be calculated analogously to speed in physics, applying the following formula:


∆C – change in the level of competences (we want to improve that level but let us remember that it can also decrease)

t – time over which the growth happens.


Therefore, speed shows by how much the level of competences will change over the unit of time. On a side note, speed and velocity are not the same thing. We can speak of velocity when the change happens in some direction. Velocity is a scalar while speed is not.

The faster the better, assuming that there are no side effects of a speedy acquisition of competences (use of stimulants, exhaustion of the body, neglecting loved ones, etc.).


Acceleration of the change in competence level


But fast is not enough to be fully happy. It is also important for the desired competences to appear on the market ever faster and for the level of those competences to grow ever faster. The question arises how to cause acceleration of the growth of competences. Analogously to physics, acceleration can be expressed with a formula:


a – acceleration

∆R – change in the speed of competence growth or change in the speed of the growth of the number of people with desired competences

t – time over which the change in the growth happens.


In practice, there can be a growth of competences on the market, the growth can be quick but acceleration can be low, or there might even be deceleration or a slowdown.  It will happen when the speed of the competence growth is slower and slower.  If we imagine two consecutive periods where, in the first one, the speed at which competences grow is faster than in the next, analyzing the two periods we will conclude that the speed decreased, therefore there is no acceleration but there is a delay instead.

Firstly, such a delay can stem from the fact that we slowed down. We do not feel like developing our competences, we have a young child, we got sick, we are overworked, we have no motivation or we won 5 million playing the lottery…. there can be a multitude of causes.  But that is just one of the categories of causes. They are internal causes. Apart from them, there might also be external ones.

In our physics classes, we were often taught that velocity of the body is relative and depends on the kind of the coordinate system it is considered against.  The speed at which competences grow is based on the same principle. If you are doing your utmost and it seems that you develop fast and you feel that you know and can do more than yesterday but suddenly it turns out that someone else develops much faster, in comparison with that unbearable frame of reference, your development decelerates.

However, let us return to acceleration.  If it occurs, its nature can be different.  I wrote about types of acceleration of knowledge growth in my last book, dividing the processes of acceleration in the creation of knowledge resources in businesses according to changeability of acceleration (Szafrański, 2015, p. 121-131) – here I extended the issue of knowledge acceleration to include acceleration of competences. We can speak of steady or changeable acceleration.

Analyzing the growth, speed and acceleration in the growth of competences, it is also worth analyzing seasonality (Kaniewska-Sęba 2003) of their growth (e.g. during the summer break, students study less and between June and September a new injection of competences appears on the market, provided by graduates).


Examples of projects for the development of competence acceleration in the economy


We have been devoting our attention to acceleration of competence development at the Poznań University of Technology since 2006. We have been doing it under the initiative Akcelerator Wiedzy Technicznej® (www.awt.org.plhttps://www.facebook.com/AWTPUT/) By saying “we”, I mean teams of my friends with whom we create solutions within the scope of:

  • faster provision of employees and potential employees with competences,
  • improving the quality of technical education,
  • accelerating diffusion of knowledge in economic-and-educational networks,
  • shortening the time of access to information about competences on the market in businesses,
  • reducing social exclusion in the scope of the use of technologies.

Fig. 1. Activities undertaken as part of the initiative Akcelerator Wiedzy Technicznej®. Own study

Our projects include Time of Professional BIS – professional Wielkopolska under which, together with regional authorities, schools and businesses, were have come up and develop a systemic solution for faster development of professional competences (www.zawodowcy.org).


As part of another project, together with our partners from Poland, Finland, Slovakia and Slovenia, we developed a method for accelerating cross-sectional competences in the processes of practical education of students (www.atcerasmus.eu). Cross-sectional competences include: creativity, entrepreneurship, communicativeness and teamwork.

I think that on behalf of all the parties which have been cooperating for 10 years for acceleration of development of competences, I can invite teams interested in such issues to cooperate with us.


Kaniewska-Sęba A. (2003), Analiza sezonowości, w: Analiza rynku pod red. H. Mruka, PWE, Warszawa, p. 118-144.

Szafrański M. (2015), Zarządzanie akceleracją tworzenia zasobów wiedzy w przedsiębiorstwach, Wydawnictwo Politechniki Poznańskiej, Poznań.

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