Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the opening event of the 17th Star of the Technical Profession Festival

24 April 2024, Budapest

Good morning. 

Honourable President, Students, Educators, Parents, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

And welcome to all those who have come with the aim of choosing a career or profession. I respectfully welcome you all. It is good to be back. Every year I look forward to coming here. I am happy to come because I think that it is in places like this that the future of Hungary will be drawn. We older people know that the future of Hungary is always written by talented young people. Even fifteen or twenty years ago, in Hungary it was thought that the future would be determined more by graduates in intellectual professions. But in the last fifteen years we have built a work-based economy, and today everyone knows that there is no future without work and skilled work, technical work and skilled technical workers. Today skilled labour, technical workers and craftspeople form the basis of Hungary and the backbone of the Hungarian economy. If intellectuals also make the most of themselves, and if the two worlds of intellectual and skilled professional work are well connected, then this will make Hungary successful.

Young People,

We live in a time when it is difficult to foresee the future. Trends and fashions change from day to day, making it ever harder to decide on which career to pursue. I remember the narrative from the beginning of the decade that new technologies would soon replace manual work. And then - to no great surprise - it turned out that computers could not replace manual work. But office workers, lawyers, clerks and programmers are quaking in their boots. Or consider that at the beginning of the decade no one would have said that a war could break out in a neighbouring country, or that the European Union - which we had seen as the guarantee of our prosperity - would simply lose its way and fall behind America and Asia in the world’s great economic race.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Students,

I am convinced that those choosing a technical profession are betting on the right horse. If you choose a profession that will stand the test of time, nothing will be able to hold you back: no new technology, no war - not even Brussels. In this unpredictable world, the Hungarian government’s task is to help young Hungarians stand on their own two feet and start their independent adult lives. While it is difficult to predict what the future will bring, the Government’s task is to provide durable and modern education for all. This is why we have agreed with the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to invest in the future by working together to renew vocational education and training. I am also grateful to the Chamber and its President, László Parragh, without whom none of this would have happened. We believe that what is modern is also enduring. What is enduring will also stand its ground in the future, and remain competitive in a changing, dangerous world.

I would like to give you a brief account of what we have done so far. First of all, we have put more emphasis on practice. It is an old truth that practice makes perfect. If you enter the labour market with experience, you have a winning case. We have brought the worlds of academia and vocational training closer together. We have linked the eminence of the lecture theatre with practical knowledge. The final year of vocational training can now count as a credit towards university studies. So someone who has a profession and wants to gain more knowledge has a head start. What is more, the best performers will be admitted straight into institutions of higher education. And we have brought in the most advanced technology. We have put the latest equipment and tools in your hands so you can get the most up-to-date knowledge possible. And we are seeing the results. In terms of population, Hungary’s ranking among the approximately 200 countries in the world is 96th. In terms of the size of the economy we are 49th; but despite this, Hungary is the 33rd most innovative country out of around 200 countries in the world. And in terms of high-tech manufacturing we are the 5th best in the world.

Why is this? No matter whether they are IT specialists, plumbers, engineers or hairdressers, Hungarians generally want to work to the highest standards. Because in Hungary work is still a matter of honour. We - and I hope you too - were taught that if you do something, you should do it to world-class standards. And this is as true for me as it is for you, your teachers and your masters. This work ethic must be passed on to the professionals of the future. This is where we are now, and I think that we are on the right track. Vocational training is becoming ever more attractive. When it comes to choosing a career, more than half of young people end up choosing a technical college as the first step. This is quite apart from the fact that, on average, courses there are three times oversubscribed, and there are places where the oversubscription rate is ten times. We have decided that those who enter vocational training should also receive financial support. Regular scholarships, salaries and even career-starter grants are available. Since 2020 we have doubled the salaries of our teachers. The Government wants to make not only learning attractive, but also vocational education, and for you to be trained by the best people. Because in the end everything depends on that.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Students, Teachers and Competitors,

On behalf of the Hungarian government, I can guarantee you four things. The first is that everyone in Hungary will have a profession, and the doors of technical colleges will be open to everyone. The second is that whoever has a profession will have a job. We have now managed to ensure that there are more jobs than skilled workers. The third is that those who work will earn a decent wage. As long as the present government is in office, the work of every Hungarian will be appreciated. And the fourth thing is that anyone who commits to having a family in addition to their profession will have a home, and can count on family support from the Government. Because we know that those who make the commitment to having a family have a good chance of a happy life. And happy families will form the strong and independent Hungary that for centuries we have been fighting for.

Dear Young People and Teachers,

Hungarian vocational education is already among the best in Europe. You are talented young people, and now is the time to enter the world championships. I wish you every success. And I wish you every success in today’s competition.

Go Hungary, go Hungarians!