One of the most important drivers of economic growth and socio-economic prosperity is research and innovation (R&I). While research plays a key role in a knowledge-based economy, innovation is essential to provide the intellectual capital needed to grow such a system. UP Faculty of Management is currently training two young researchers, Assist. Jan Frančeškin and Assist. Barbara Švagan, who are being trained in two different but equally important research areas: sustainable tourism and the future of work. The work of the young researchers was presented in more detail on December 15 2022 at the UPFM, which was also attended by the Vice-Rector for Economics and Finance of the University of Primorska, Prof. Rok Strašek, the Dean of the UP Faculty of Management, Assoc. Prof. Tatjana Horvat, and the Vice-Dean for Research and International Activities, Assoc. Prof. Ana Grdović Gnip. Among the participants of the event were also students and lecturers of UP FM, who actively encourage and guide students through research challenges.
"If I had to decide my career path again, I would definitely choose the same one. The academic path at UP Faculty of Management" were the opening words of Assist. Jan Frančeškin. In academia, we are venturing into an unfamiliar field that presents many challenges but nevertheless allows academic freedom for the creativity of a young researcher. Assist. Jan's Ph.D. thesis researches sustainable tourism with the aim of analyzing the performance of Slovenian hotel companies over a period of time and the impact of location, size, and annual percentage growth rate of GDP per capita of Slovenia and neighboring countries on this, in order to provide an in-depth insight into the Slovenian hotel industry. Tourism is of great economic importance in the economy, as it is one of the most important job generators, playing an important role in building the image of a destination and generating tourism demand for it. Traditionally, more than 50% of all overnight stays in Slovenia are made in hotels, which puts them at the very top of the overnight accommodation market. Assist. Jan concludes by saying that the future of Slovenia lies in small "boutique" and locally oriented hotels.
Assist. Barbara Švagan's Ph.D. thesis researches the quality of on-site platform work, using the example of Slovenian platform delivery companies. The platform economy is a rather new form of organising and mediating wage labour through digital platforms, where the process enables both individuals and organizations to connect with other organizations or individuals who provide a service or product in exchange for payment. According to publicly available data, platform work has increased by more than 600% over the years since its inception in 2008, reaching 777 in 2020. The quality of platform work is a major challenge given the specificities of this employment such as payment based on tasks performed, the client-customer-platform relationship, outsourcing status, equipment costs, and so on. Assist. Barbara concludes her presentation by noting that the area of platform work in Slovenia is very poorly researched legally and that although trade unions are involved in this area, much more substantiated research will be needed to make the area clearer.
Universities have a mission to transfer knowledge by combining research and education. The research activity of universities is vital for the development and progress of the human mind. To fulfil this mission, universities have a special responsibility to train new researchers - young researchers. The need to encourage young researchers becomes even more important when taking into account all the emerging challenges such as an ageing population, the green transition, climate change, inequalities or the increased demand for highly skilled labour.
In Slovenia, the funding of postgraduate studies and research training for young researchers is an important instrument of science policy, implemented by the Public Agency for Research (ARRS). The Young Researcher Programme encourages and expands the creativity and innovation of young people, teaches them to conduct independent research and raises awareness of their shared responsibility for the development of a sustainable, green and inclusive environment. As data for 2021 show, ARRS funds more than 200 young researchers, almost evenly distributed by gender.