“Study Smart, Work Professionally” – regional meetings for promotion of the vocational education and training

Under the slogan “Study Smart, Work Professionally”, in compliance with the protocols and protection measures, 19 regional meetings were held across the country where the Minister of Education and Science Mila Carovska, representatives of the Government and the Ministry of Education and Science, mayors and more than 200 companies discussed the need for new profiles that should be part of the enrollment policy in secondary vocational schools, as well as the practical training of the students in the companies. The purpose of such meetings, supported by the Embassy of Switzerland and the project Education for Employment in North Macedonia (E4E@мк), is to encourage a social dialogue between the stakeholders, which would result in the creation of young, professional and quality staff.

The first meetings were held in Sveti Nikole and Stip. Among those present were representatives of private companies who expressed their needs for vocational staff, especially at the local level. They had discussions with representatives of secondary vocational schools, which resulted in proposals for new vocational profiles. The proposed profiles are planned to be launched in the secondary vocational schools as of the next school year 2021/2022.

“We are discussing what their real needs are for certain profiles that the companies have been lacking for years, as well as the possibilities to open classes for such profiles in the secondary vocational schools. For the first time, we are entering into intensive negotiations with the companies, the chambers of commerce and the secondary vocational schools in order to provide the required vocational staff, but also to increase the employability of young people,” said the Minister of Education and Science, Mila Carovska.

During the meetings in Veles and Kavadarci, the need for close cooperation between the private companies and the secondary vocational schools was emphasized. The representatives of the local self-government shared positive experiences with the larger private companies in that region where the students are part of the practical training, but also emphasized that such cooperation should be further extended between the secondary vocational schools and the small and medium enterprises.

The representatives of the secondary vocational schools also emphasized that the carrying out of the vocational training of the students is not complete when it is done only in the schools, due to the fact that most of the necessary skills are related to new and modern technologies that are available only to the companies.

In this regard, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Arafat Shabani, who attended the events in Struga and Ohrid, informed the participants of the plans of the Ministry to redefine the process of providing scholarships for the students who would enroll in secondary vocational education. The scholarships will further encourage and support those students who will choose a vocational field that is in demand in the labour market.

In Tetovo, a significant number of companies from the Polog Region joined, as well as representatives of the local self-government, chambers of commerce and secondary vocational schools, together with the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the Ambassador of Switzerland in North Macedonia, H.E.  Sybille Suter. They exchanged opinions and experiences in terms of the improvement of the practical training of students in companies that will enable the acquisition of modern professional skills and easier employment of the young people in our country.

The need for introducing new demanded profiles in the vocational schools that will create young and professional staff for various sectors was also discussed in Kriva Palanka, Kratovo, Kumanovo, Prilep, Bitola, Bogdanci, Strumica, Kocani, Berovo, Skopje, Ilinden, Gostivar and Kicevo. The great response from the companies to these events shows that there is a serious interest among companies to be involved in the educational process.

The Ministry of Education and Science, together with the Center for Vocational Education and Training, by collecting proposals for new profiles, will focus on adapting the enrollment policy for the next school year 2021/2022, when it is expected to open new profiles in a number of secondary vocational schools. Due to the great response and the established cooperation with the private sector, it is expected that the social dialogue will be conducted on a regular annual basis, at the local level, i.e. between the municipalities, local vocational high schools and the companies in the municipality or beyond.

This activity is part of the Education for Employment in Macedonia (E4E@мк) Project, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).