What are the strengths of ECHA? First of all: its continuously enriched traditions of more than 25 years. Secondly, ECHA’s superb quality in all areas related to research and practice associated with talented people. This high quality is exemplified by High Ability Studies, which is the most prestigious journal of the field. Last but not least ECHA’s strength comes from the large variety of approaches of its members reflecting the cultural richness of Europe.
What are the weaknesses of ECHA and European talent support in 2012? First of all, there is a gap between research and practice. In many places local talent support communities are isolated from the rest of Europe and often re-invent the wheel. Sometimes these local communities invent a square instead of a wheel – which is even worse. We need a much more intensive dissemination of the scientific results and exchange of the best talent support practices in Europe. The second weakness of ECHA and European talent support is the gap between research, practice and politics. Talented people are the future of Europe. Still, the Horizon 2020 takes talent as a granted treasure of the ‘old continent’, and contains no direct measures to discover and support the huge and hidden European pool of talented people. The third weakness of ECHA is the gap between ECHA Conferences. ECHA cannot be a ‘conference-society’ only. Our responsibility is much wider than that.
What are the major goals of ECHA for the coming years? First and foremost ECHA has to stand in the forefront of building a European Talent Support Network. This should be a network of all people involved in talent support: educators, researchers, psychologists, parents, politicians and the talented young people themselves. Talent Support Centres of many European countries may serve as regional hubs of this network building a contact structure going beyond their own country. Secondly, and consequently: ECHA needs to grow its membership and needs to maintain a continuous contact with its members. Third, ECHA needs to build up an intensive contact structure with other European actors involved in talent support: the European Parliament, the European Commission, other related Europe-wide NGO-organizations and multi-national firms willing to cooperate with us and support ECHA.
Talented people in all ages are the life-insurance of Europe in times of economic and social crisis. Europe needs novel solutions, which needs creativity and talented people. Each European citizen might potentially hide a special type of talent. We need to discover this huge reserve and help its development into a joint success of Europe.