On December 18th, 2019 at the Alexander Palace Hotel in Skopje a conference titled “Private Sector Engagement towards Quality Vocational Education of Future Workforce” was organized by the Education for Employment in North Macedonia Project (E4E@mk), the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and the Ministry for Education and Science.
The purpose of the conference is to understand the role and the contribution of the private sector in the quality of the vocational education, bearing in mind that the institutions of the system with the support of stakeholders can create theoretically the most quality solutions for advancing the vocational education, but they will not provide the expected effect if the practical implementation of the reforms does not include the private sector and the business owners. The involvement of the private sector will enable much better conditions for the students to acquire the needed skills and the capacities necessary to successfully endure into the labor market.
The Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, Mr. Kocho Angjusev, the Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Arber Ademi and the Ambassador of Switzerland H.E. Sybille Sutter addressed the conference.
The Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs has emphasized that the education is one of the key factors for sustainable and a more intensive economic development, adding that the educational system, as it was at the beginning of this government’s mandate, especially the secondary vocational education, did not meet the real needs of the economy.
“In order to solve problems, we must primarily state them out loud and detect them clearly. I think that in the last few years, the society has become aware of the problems in the educational process and several steps have been made that I consider are the first steps towards reforming the education. These are initial steps and I think we need to approach the reforms much faster and more dynamically because the world and the economy are not going to wait for us, we need to adapt to them, and that process is very dynamic”, said the Deputy Prime Minister Angjushev.
Speaking of the actual steps to be taken in the reforms of the secondary education, the Deputy Prime Minister Angjushev has accentuated that the secondary education should be set on three pillars: the gymnasium, which would cover 30-40% of students, while the other students should attend secondary vocational schools and acquire knowledge through the concept of dual education, i.e. work based learning. As to achieve this, it is necessary to harmonize the curricula, to reform the educational process and to raise the awareness of the citizens to change the perception that the vocational education is only for weak students, but rather to obtain a specific vocation and knowledge that can provide them with very decent living.
“A visit to Switzerland was extremely helpful for me, where in addition to the educational systems of Austria and Germany, I was also introduced to the Swiss system. A staggering percentage or over 67% of secondary school students are enrolled in the dual education in Switzerland. This does not mean that they will all end up as people without prospects of going to universities or becoming heads of companies, but are people who want to do what they really want to do. It is not considered a fortune for everyone to become a doctor or a lawyer, as not everyone in the country can become a doctor, lawyer or a manager. There must be other occupations i.e. professions. Everyone should find their happiness and be able to live it with dignity. Today, mark my words, anyone who decides to go in the dual education, I can tell you that he or she will have a good life in the future because they will be surely employed, they will have a secure profession and what will be valued in the future is whether you have the competence and the skill and not a degree,” said Angjushev.
Addressing the audience at the conference, the Minister of Education and Science Arber Ademi noted that in the last few years the cooperation between the educational institutions and the business sector has been significantly improved, the companies are involved in creating the changes but there is more room for strengthening the cooperation.
“The major reforms that were made in the vocational education are theoretically excellent, but in order to achieve viability and full effectiveness, it requires proper implementation, which is not possible without the support of the business community. I invite representatives of this segment of the society to show even greater initiative and commitment to build partnerships with schools, to accept students into practical on-the-job training as instructed by the curriculum and the concept of dual education, and to contribute to the building of their competencies,” said Ademi.
The Minister appealed to the business community to get engaged in the process of finding a new sustainable model for financing the vocational education and training in the country, by providing additional funds besides the state budget funds.
The Ambassador of Switzerland in Republic of North Macedonia, H.E. Sybille Sutter pointed out that Switzerland is known for being the most competitive economy in the world for nine years in a row. It is obvious that one of the key reasons for this is the skilled workforce that is a result of a well-developed vocational education system.
“In Switzerland, the private sector plays a significant role in all stages of VET. This includes curriculum development and implementation, certification and financing of the vocational education and training. The ownership and responsibility of the private sector in the creation of the future workforce in Switzerland is most visible in the hosting of apprentices by companies. But the engagement of the private sector is not only on a company level – in fact, the chambers and other professional associations play a significant role in the Swiss VET system. The vocational education and training system is not only an obligation of one side, but rather a partnership between the state and the private sector. We therefore strongly believe that a good quality and market relevant VET system needs a strong partnership between the private and the public sector“ said Ambassador Sutter.
Moderator – Ivana Georgievska, Vocational Education and Training Expert, E4E@MK
Following the official part, the conference continued with presentations for the Education for Employment in North Macedonia project (E4E@mk), the role of the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce in transferring to dual education as well as the Job and Vocational Training Fair in Switzerland – BAM BERNEXPO.
Kurt Wutrich, Team Leader, E4E@mk – What role does the private sector play in the VET system in Switzerland? How is the Switzerland’s dual education regulated?
During the two panel discussions that took place during the conference, domestic and foreign experts and practitioners discussed the involvement of the private sector in the education as an investment and the effects of involving the private sector in educational processes.
Vasil Radojnovski, Chairman of the Board, Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce – Project DOMINO – What role did the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce play in transferring to dual education?
Aneta Petrovska – Rusomaroski, Human Resources Manager, EVN Macedonia, Vasil Radojnovski, Chairman of the Board, Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, Kurt Wutrich, Team Leader, E4E@mk, Ivana Georgievska, Vocational Education and Training Expert, E4E@MK.
Peter Boeni, Business Development Manager, BERNEKSPO, Switzerland. How youth in Switzerland decides what occupation they want to trained for? Job and Vocational Training Fair BAM, Switzerland.
Zoran Jovchevski, Advisor, Vocational Education and Training Center – What changes are currently taking place in the vocational education? How does the private sector participation increase the quality of the vocational education?
Natasa Janevska, Independent Advisor, Economic Chamber of Macedonia – Activities and roles of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia relevant to vocational education – needs and trends.
Goce Pesev, Executive Director, MAMEI – How to increase the interest of the young people in the vocational education through cooperation between the private sector and schools?
Bojana Dimovska, General Manager, Rontis – Social Inclusion through Access to Education and Employment for Vulnerable Groups