Rethinking the concept of talent

Rethinking the concept of talent
We talked to Szilvia Fodor, the newly elected vice-president of the European Council for Talented People, about the possibilities of redefining the concept of talent.
At the congress of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) in The Hague, Szilvia Fodor, habilitated associate professor at the Institute of Psychology, ELTE, and member of the Cognitive Abilities Research Group, was elected vice-president of the organization. Szilvia Fodor started her career as a research psychologist at the University of Debrecen, and since 2021 she has been a full-time staff member at ELTE PPK. Her main areas of professional interest are talent management, ability measurement, creativity research, positive psychology and organizational psychology in schools.

What is the role of the European Talent Council?

ECHA is the European organization for talent management professionals, researchers and practitioners. One of its important tasks is to represent the talent agenda in a way that addresses the institutional system of the European Union, to promote research and thus the development of the talents of young people with high abilities.

As Vice President, what do you see as your most important task?

I believe there is a great need to redefine and repurpose the concept of talent in the 20th century. Today, it is much more important than before to emphasize the developmental and environmental aspects of giftedness and individual pathways to development, and this will allow us to override the seemingly mutually exclusive logic of 'elite education' versus 'inclusion'. In addition, I think it is very important to bring back into the thinking the moral issues, the issue of social responsibility, since it is not all the same what skills are used for what purposes. In addition, we should pay more attention to mental health and to strengthening a positive psychological approach, because healthy mental functioning is essential not only for subjective well-being, but also for good performance.

In a time of crisis, the question may now be whether talent management is the most important thing to do....

At a time when we are facing a difficult economic period, it is particularly important to support young people who can help us through the difficulties with new solutions, innovation and a sense of responsibility towards society as a whole. In difficult economic times, there is always a question of equity and priorities, but I believe that quality education, talent management based on individual strengths and social responsibility should not be sidelined in such times.

How long have you been a member of ECHA and what professional experience have you gained?

As a newly graduated psychologist fresh out of university, I first participated in the ECHA international conference in Debrecen, then only as a facilitator and organizer. I first gave a scientific presentation ten years ago, and since then I have attended every one of them as a member of the organization, with many professional contacts and opportunities, thanks to the professional organization dedicated to talent management. As a member of ECHA's Training Panel for several years, I have had an insight into the type and quality of training that can be included in ECHA's quality assurance training at international level. This experience has been very useful for the renewal of the ELTE PPK's teacher training in the field of talent. I think that we have created a very complex and varied theme, which I am confident will attract the interest of practicing teachers.

What can you contribute as a Hungarian to the European talent agenda and what does it mean for Hungary to be represented at a high level in ECHA?

My professional experience is primarily linked to Hungary, and most of my research was carried out on a Hungarian sample, so it is inevitable that I should be present in this professional community as a Hungarian. But that's not a bad thing, because in the field of talent management a lot of professional achievements have been made in the last decade, and there is scope for international exchange of good practices. There is always a great deal of international interest in the talent network and in modern tools for talent identification, and the country also has unique scholarship programmes, significant achievements and innovative forms of training in the field of teacher training, and free literature, such as the Talent Handbook, which summarizes domestic research on the subject and can be used as a methodological guide in practice.

Of course, the position also provides an opportunity to learn more about international trends in talent management and to familiarize myself with Hungarian stakeholders. I also consider it very important to strengthen the link between research and application, and to cultivate scientific dissemination, so that psychological and pedagogical research results can be transferred into educational practice. I have recently published a series of articles on several important topics in Hungarian Science, and I also run a Facebook group called Systems Approach Positive Education, where I regularly share articles and professional content that I consider important.

What does ECHA offer to those interested in talent management?

For academics and practitioners interested in excellence, talent management and talent development, ECHA offers various forms of cooperation, including the ECHA website, where we share professional content and organize working groups in different areas. We hold a major international conference every two years, with smaller thematic conferences in the intervening years. The website of the most recent event in The Hague is here, and this is the online interface for the 2023 workshop: ECHA's journal, High Ability Studies, is a publication platform for professionals working in this field.