Modernization of VET and cooperation between VET and Business sector
The priority areas of Modernization of VET and Cooperation between VET and Business sector is suggested to be tackled jointly, through the work of the South Eastern Europe Vocational Education and Training Network – SEEVET-NET – established by the ERI SEE initiative and formalised by the Agreement on Cooperation signed by the participating countries and institutions, namely the VET centres from Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina; with the associating participation of Romanian, Bulgarian and Kosovo VET centres. The focus of the work of regional experts participating in this Network is the enhancing connections with the private sector with the purpose of enhancing work-based learning systems in the region, as well as adjusting the educational programmes to the acquisition of skills needed on the labour market.
As seen in the relevant documents analysed in previous sections of the Work Programme, they all specify the need of vocational education and training systems being more responsive to change and wider world, creating stronger links and communication with the business sector and developing skills matching the needs of the labour market. Work-based learning, focusing on creating different opportunities for practical work during the education and training periods, creates opportunities for the development of practical competences, needed in the real sector, and thus increases the employability of young people. The issue of the employability of young people is more than urgent – in the region the unemployment among young people varies from 40% up to even more than 60%.
As a way of tackling the issue of high unemployment in the region, and lack of skills needed on the labour market, recognized in the strategic documents, it is important to define the sectors with growth potential and continuous need for labour force, relevant for the whole region, and focus the ERI SEE and SEEVET Net work-based learning activities there. Within these sectors, to train the labour force with adequate skills, it is needed to ensure stable communication pathways between the education and training sector and business sector, with clearly defined needs and designed trainings for the young. In these communication pathways, there are many impediments and stronger efforts are needed to be invested in their removal, which can be achieved in cooperation with regional Chambers of commerce, acting as intermediaries between VET centres and schools on the one hand, and representatives of the business sectors on the other. In these joint action, work-based learning is to be promoted among employers, emphasizing the importance of their inclusion in defining the needs and providing training opportunities; mechanisms for an easier anticipation of future skills are to be developed, and regional occupation standards within the chosen priority sectors are to be elaborated. Joint occupational standards are then to be adjusted for national purposes and/or used at the regional level, boosting the mobility of the labour force in the region.
Therefore, what is envisaged within the framework of the SEEVET-Net is:
- Continuous strengthening of regional cooperation in VET systems focusing on the exchange of practices (via regular annual meetings/workshops/seminars of the SEEVET Net members)
- Expanding the cooperation to the social partners and business sector (through participation of Chambers of Commerce and representatives of business sector in the SEEVET Net meetings/workshops)
- Development of the joint regional project promoting work-based learning and regional occupational standards.
The joint regional project is planned in cooperation between the SEEVET Net, relevant ministries and the Chambers of Commerce under the framework of Western Balkans Chambers Investment Forum, with the focus on:
- Development of Labour-market-relevant occupational standards supporting economic development and labour mobility in the region (in the sectors jointly defined as priorities – torism and catering; food industry and processing, transport and logistics, construction industry), aiming at enhancing the co-operation between social partners and VET sector in the development of occupational standards, contributing to increased mobility in the region by developing joint occupational standards, and enhancing the methodology of developing occupational standards.
- Enhancing the quality of Work-based Learning, aiming at exchanging the experiences, capacity building of the partners included, defining roles and responsibilities, adjusting the legal framework, and creating or adjusting the relevant documents needed for the successful implementation of WBL and its integration into the systems.
- Piloting the implementation of joint occupational standards with strong elements of WBL