This article first appeared on Swisscontact Worldwide 2018 Annual Report. Link for original article at the bottom.
Since 2017, “Skills for Jobs” project has supported six vocational schools and their partner businesses to pilot an Albanian model of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity for exposing students to the world of work, in order to obtain the necessary professional and soft skills while being enrolled in the vocational school.
The following seven elements are what makes the Albanian apprenticeship-based vocational education system successful.
- Building business relations
The basis of the Albanian apprenticeship-based vocational education system relies on a broad network of partner companies. The schools have all implemented a function responsible for building and coordinating these relations. It is part of the “Career Centre” concept (see section 5). Schools approach willing employers who see mutual benefits in collaboration.
- Collaboration with industry leaders
Vocational schools aim, in particular, to attract the best private sector players in their regions. This is a central point to the success of the apprenticeship-based model of vocational education: the schools wish to connect with companies that have a clear vision for the future and are willing to invest in further growth.
- Win-win situation for all participants
A precondition for apprenticeships is to involve and benefit all three parties:
- Trainees improve their skills through apprenticeship.
- Companies invest in training their future employees.
- Public vocational education institutions help reduce public expenditures on practical training.
Before “Skills for Jobs” started up, practical training consisted of short-term internships. In order to better match the commitment and requirements of the companies, the project team has now designed full-year internships.
- Creating a nurturing environment
Our partner schools and the project team have a common objective: they want to create an environment in Albania where apprenticeship-based training takes on a life of its own. There are many efforts implemented to achieve this: the project team and schools sensitise all beneficiary groups, working together with employment agencies. To create apprenticeship agreements, they develop tools for teachers that make it possible to monitor over the apprenticeships and much more.
- Career Centres in the schools
“Skills for Jobs” supported the creation of so-called “Career Centres” at each partner school. These units play a facilitative role in the education process: they establish the schools’ networks with private companies, and they organise various activities to put students in touch with the world of work, in addition to guiding job interviews between the youth and companies.
Furthermore, the Career Centres conduct publicity campaigns for the subjects on offer. The objective, on the one hand, is to enrol higher numbers of youth at the vocational schools, and on the other, to ensure future apprentices will know what to expect from the education. In 2017, the idea of the Career Centres had made its way into the local vocational education and training legislation under the name “Development Unit.”
- Engaged parents
The support provided by parents and family members during the apprenticeship period is highly important. The more engaged the parents are, the better the chances that the training will go well for an apprentice. Up to now in Albania, there were few efforts to involve parents in the academic and work life of the apprentices. In the future, Skills for Jobs will work even harder at this with the schools.
- Trained master instructors
Training of master instructors is one of many aspects that the project takes on to enhance the quality of the trainings and ensure all involved will benefit from them. If master instructors are committed to their young trainees, this will encourage those trainees to then make a substantial contribution to the company.
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