Thanks to an apprenticeship system recently developed, youngsters in vocational education in Albania find it easier to move from school to the world of work. Facilitated by the Swiss-funded ‘Skills for Jobs’ (S4J) project, 309 companies are hosting 716 apprentices in 4 regions in the country.
During the last 16 months, we have seen 15-year-old children grow to become confident apprentices, soon-to-be professionals in their profession. “My apprenticeship at ‘Rapsodia’ restaurant changed my life. I’m very happy with the choice I made,” says Angjela Lekaj, 3rd year student at ‘Kolin Gjoka’ school. When she started her apprenticeship, not only she started learning a lot in her profession. Angjela receives a little financial compensation from the host company that covers for the costs of her studies, a great support for her family that struggles to make ends meet every month. Angjela, as many other peers of hers studying in tourism and hospitality landed a job offer for the summer time by the host company.
The apprenticeship scheme applied in Albanian context combines the theory taught in school with practical training delivered in real working environment throughout the entire duration of vocational qualification. The apprenticeship plays a great role in improving the student’s performance by providing exposure to work and real-life situations, which also urges young apprentices to upgrade their skills and get creative with problem solving.
To further enhance student’s learning experience, ‘Skills for Jobs’ (S4J) partner schools have also adapted the ‘new ways’: blended and participative learning, making the best use of online learning by being exposed to last development and updated industry standard resources.
Many employers appreciate the initiative 6 vocational education schools have promoted to partner with them in offering apprenticeships. “Through the years, we noticed something very important: practical learning and training should be offered to students since high school and not wait for university. This is the reason why Vodafone Albania is providing apprenticeships in distance for ICT students in vocational schools” says Mr. Spartak Alibali, Resourcing Senior Consultant at Vodafone Albania.
Youngsters find the apprenticeships as very attractive as they can learn in very simple ways many new things every day. “I’m very happy for the profession I chose, as it offers me great opportunities for practical learning” says Ema Shtrëmbari, who just finished her first year at ‘Kristo Isak’ school in Berat. Since apprenticeships took off the drop out rate fell from 14.5% (academic year 2015-2016) to below 10% (academic year 2017-2018).
The exposure to the world of work from the early days of their studies in vocational education helps young peole thrive in the labour market. Data from a snapshot study show that 53% of the students in ‘Skills for Jobs’ (S4J) partner schools graduating in 2018 had already received and accepted a job offer before finishing the vocational school (baseline 2016: 12.5%).
Schools are now preparing for the new cohort of students that will start the vocational school in September 2018. In July 2018, 4 students who had just enrolled in the Tourism & Hospitality branch at the vocational ‘Kolin Gjoka’ school in Lezha participated in an open day in business.
Chef Alfred Marku didn’t lose the opportunity to immediately introduce the soon-to be-apprentices to the kitchen and restaurant processes. ‘’This is the happiest day of my life!” says Klidjon Gjoci, freshman at ‘Kolin Gjoka’ school. “I really hope that chef Fredi will select me [as an apprentice] in November, when we [students] participate in the interviews with businesses representatives.”