Phase 1: Companies’ needs
It all started by two friends and supporters of the school: Altin Prenga and Alfred Marku, both business owners. ‘Kolin Gjoka’ School is partnered with “Mrizi i Zanave” agritourism complex, owned and managed by chef Altin, and chef Alfred’s Hotel & Restaurant “Rapsodia”. These companies collaborate closely with ‘Skills for Jobs’ and the school to improve and adapt the apprenticeship scheme designed by S4J, inspired by the Swiss model of apprenticeship. When the time came to renew the schools’ management board, ‘Kolin Gjoka’ School decided to extend the invitation to both Altin and Alfred in becoming board members and representing the private sector there. Both agreed to serve on the board, with Altin being elected as Chairperson of the Board.
From the very beginning, Alfred and Altin asked the school to consider offering a new academic program that would help prepare specialists in food processing.
Offering a new academic direction is not an easy task for a vocational school. The procedures require an approval from the Line Ministry, for a school to open and offer a new direction. On the other hand, the school had no funding or space for labs for this new direction. If this were to work, the companies had to offer the practical learning, in full.
Phase 2: Bringing all stakeholders together
A workshop was called on November 7th, 2018, with the participation of 13 food processing specialized companies from the region. The Employment Office Director, a specialist from the National Agency for VET and Qualifications (NAVETQ), managers and teachers of ‘Kolin Gjoka’ School also joined this workshop facilitated by S4J.
The workshop managed to: identify the skills shortages in the sector and get the commitment of the companies to contribute by promoting the new direction in their communities, contributing to adapt the school-based curricula to the local context and finally secure apprenticeship placement for students.
A document containing all the proposals was signed by all companies that were present and presented to the school as a request to activate the new direction. The management board of the school approved the proposal and signed a request for the Line Ministry (Ministry of Finance and Economy) to allow ‘Kolin Gjoka’ School to offer ‘Food Technology’ direction, starting from the upcoming academic year (2019-2020).
Phase 3: We have a new direction!
The Line Ministry approved the request six months later. In September 2019, 24 students were registered in ‘Food Technology’, the new direction. So far, 7 companies have singed memorandums of understanding with ‘Kolin Gjoka’ School and 4 of them have hosted students from the school as their first apprentices.