May 26, 2016 | Thursday
The EU Information and Cultural Centre in Pristina has wrapped up the bimonthly campaign on Education and Literacy with numerous activities which shed light on and reflected upon the current education system and challenges and opportunities.
This month’s highlight story features the EU Talks panel discussion on the topic of Vocational Education Training (VET) in Kosovo, held on 19 May with panelists from institutions, international organizations and the private sector. The panel discussed the current vocational education and training programs in Kosovo, necessary reforms, and international initiatives to support local institutional development as well as how new VET programs can be designed to match labour market demand.
The Progress Report for 2015 by the European Commission stresses that “…the current Vocational Education and Training (VET) system is not in tune with labour market needs. A few VET programmes possess the required standards to receive accreditation by the National Qualifications Authority.” Among other areas, it strongly recommends that the VET school network be rationalized with labour market needs and the provision of VET programs needs to be revisited.
Julia Leuther, the Team Leader of Vocational Education and Training project at Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) spoke of challenges in VET and possible responses towards sustainable solutions. She identifies some of the issues faced in both theory and practice such as poor perception of VET, high affinity towards academic professions, individuals opting for VET due to lack of alternatives, little interest in professional practice on behalf of the students whereas the private sector often lacks interest in investing in VET programs current VET graduates are often not employed as their training did not provide them with the necessary technical skills. The state and VET programs play a significant role in these areas. Finally, she noted apathy among VET teachers regarding their teaching profession, often a secondary job, and the lack of resources available to VET schools as remaining challenges.
Argjentina Grazhdani, representative of the Swissfunded project on Enhancing Youth Employment (EYE) was critical of the VET system in Kosovo and particularly the negligence of local authorities to invest in this particular education segment. The greatest problem she cited is the correlation between the private sector and schools. According to Ms. Grazhdani, the private sector lacks information about the available vocational training programs for students across Kosovo and the human capacity offered by these schools for the labour market. “The private sector is not ready for cooperation with vocational schools, while municipal authorities also do not inform graduates of VET about the biggest employers in the country for practice or employment.” stated Ms. Grazhdani.
Human resources departments in companies do not identify strategic plans to see what kind of human capital is needed for their sector to develop while policy makers are not focused on changing this situation, pointed out Ms. Grazhdani. Another problem according to Ms. Grazhdani is that each job announcement in the public or private sector specifies requirements for university degree as a primary condition for getting a job and this inhibits young people equipped with vocational training from applying.
However, the representative from the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (AVETAE), Mr. Ragip Gjoshi identified some government achievements in this area.
He stressed that despite all the challenges the outlook is not so pessimistic. Mr. Gjoshi emphasized that local municipal governments should also be held responsible for prioritising vocational education, however, the legislation that regulates this area is also lacking and does not comply with labour market demands, stated Mr. Gjoshi.
Private companies such as Pristina International Airport (PIA) have developed public private partnerships to tackle VET. PIA launched the Limak Airport Services Institute, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which serves as a vocational school in the field of aviation. Valentina Gara, spokesperson from PIA, spoke highly of the Institute which is functioning well so far and its goal is to cover the gap in the Kosovo educational system when it comes to young people who want to study and work in the aviation sector. The Institute targets the best students from University of Pristina as employment after graduation is a priority for these students. To encourage more of such partnerships, Ms. Gara emphasized that bureaucracy must be reduced to attract private sector collaboration.
The EU Talks series will continue with a new panel discussion on the topic of Environmental Sustainability, the next EUICC campaign to be launched in June and July.