Practical training is one of the main prerequisites for qualification of the staff in the companies, and in this regard is also the need for greater involvement of the private sector in formal and non-formal vocational education and training, with a focus on practical training. This is the conclusion from the debate that took place at the premises of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, which was attended by the Minister of Education and Science – Mila Carovska, H.E. Sybille Suter Tejada – the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of North Macedonia, Biljana Peeva-Gjurikj – Acting Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, Kurt Wüthrich – the Team Leader of the “Education for Employment in Northern Macedonia” project – E4E@мк and representatives of the private sector.
“In cooperation with the Education for Employment in North Macedonia project – E4E@мк, following the recommendations of Switzerland as a country that has established a gold standard in education, the Ministry of Education and Science has created short-term and long-term measures, which foresee a possibility for the companies to establish training centers, through which they will be able to train staff in accordance with their requirements and needs. The state will also establish Vocational Education and Training Centers, which will serve as resource centers for verification of the trainings and for involvement of the companies in the trainings, as well as for retraining of staff in a period shorter than one year. Starting from 2020, the Ministry begun awarding scholarships to students in secondary vocational schools and thus affirming the deficient occupations,” said the Minister of Education and Science Mila Carovska.
In terms of what makes the Swiss model desired and applied by the companies in our country, H.E. Sybille Suter Tejada, the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of North Macedonia, pointed out that the Swiss system of dual education is a system in which the school curricula is shaped in accordance with the needs of the private sector. The system is quite flexible, allowing the schools to be in constant and close communication with the companies and to adapt the school curricula in compliance with their needs.
“The Economic Chamber of Macedonia, as the most influential business association in terms of generating income and net profit, which is supported by data from the Central Registry as well as by the fact that every third employee in the country is an employee of a company – member of the Chamber, through its members was and will always be the key partner of the Government and the link between the educational institutions and the private sector. In 2007, the Chamber detected the staff shortage problems by conducting on a number of analyses, and ever since, the Chamber has been addressing the issue in a systemic way. The latest analysis carried out this year confirms that 62% of companies are still facing shortage of professional i.e. skilled staff. Therefore, one of the priority questions is how the school enrollment policy will be implemented, taking into account the analyses carried out by the Chamber for the real or actual needs of qualifications”, said Biljana Peeva-Gjurikj, Acting Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia.
“Together with our member companies, we have created systemic documents and standards, which have enabled the application of the educational process and the work based learning. For their needs, we have participated in the development of 85 educational programs for qualifications. The latest contribution to the series is the preparation of a mentor training program, which will mentor the people who are in training at the company, the standard for professional and other staff, as well as the protocol for preventive measures for conducting practical training during COVID 19 “, pointed out Peeva-Gjurikj.
“At the time being, we are also actively working on the new law on vocational education, together with the Ministry, as well as on the preparation of the companies for the realization of work based learning and the creation of staff for their needs. We have trained over 300 mentors and verified over 25 companies. We encouraged the development of a software for connecting companies and students for the realization of the work based learning, thus investing in the digitalization of the processes, where the E4E@мк project supported the development of a complete digital solution while the Chamber administered the platform itself,” said the acting Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia.
Kurt Wüthrich, the Team Leader of the project “Education for Employment in North Macedonia – E4E@ мк”, informed the audience that the most important aspect for the project was to define the conditions for applying an appropriate model for vocational education and training in the country, according to the needs of the private sector and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science. “We can use elements of the Swiss educational system, which can be adjusted to the economic conditions in the country, and for those needs we have developed guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the work based learning and the summer practice, in conditions of COVID19. Through a national campaign, we have also promoted the vocational education. In cooperation with the companies, we have developed a public-private partnership with the vocational schools and we have also invested in training of mentors in companies for the smooth running of the practical training”.
“We also encourage the digitalization and the use of ICT tools in the vocational education, and together with the Ministry of Education and Science we have prepared a cost-benefit analysis for the companies regarding the application of work based learning, which clearly points out that the benefits for the companies are significant in the long run”, concluded Mr. Wüthrich.
Programs supported by the “Education for Employment” project have also been implemented by numerous domestic companies, which during the discussion at the event, have emphasized the problems they are faced with.
In rural and conservative areas there is a need for education not only for specific job positions but also in general, for the system of functioning within the work process, the need for training of trainers, training for specific job positions and similar.
In addition, the companies pointed out that there are two segments that affect the quality of staff: additional qualification and re-qualification of staff, as well as continuous education for greater competitiveness of the existing company staff.
As a concluding observation from the discussion, the Director Peeva-Gjurikj stated that there is a serious shift in a positive direction regarding the managing and addressing the changes with the shortage of skilled staff in companies. “In a flexiable way, it is necessary to identfy the right module for the application of the dual education, where the Chamber in cooperation with the project and through its associations, will continue to act and expand the scope of sectors, in order to achieve effects where shortage of professional/skilled staff exists. Through the project, we expect to conduct trainings that will be intended for the unemployed, as well as trainings for improving the digital skills among both the unemployed and the students”, concluded Peeva-Gjurikj.
Associate at the Economic Chamber of Macedonia