After three years of intensive work with seven public providers of Vocational Education and Training in Shkodra, Lezha, Tirana, Berat and Vlora, the first phase of “Skills for Jobs” project came to an end.
Representatives from private sector companies, certified mentors, public institutions, international organizations, VET principals, teachers, apprentices and parents gathered in April 2019 to celebrate this important milestone.
During the ceremony in Tirana, the project team emphasized that three years ago, the project had to start with changing the mindset that vocational education was a last option for youngsters and in parallel work with all partners to improve the quality and relevance of the VET offer.
Recognizing the project as a movement, Henry Leerentveld, Director of Swisscontact for Eastern Europe, said, “It is time to move to more schools to modernize vocational education in Albania.”
“Skills for Jobs” Phase I main results
During the first phase of “Skills for Jobs”, the SDC project implemented by Swisscontact, supported partner VET providers in several directions. Some of these include:
- Establishing multi-level collaborations between VET providers and 433 private sector companies and industry leaders at the local and national level. Since 2016, businesses have provided internships and apprenticeships for VET students and trainees, as well as sponsorships, industry standard teacher training, and are involved in the curriculum updating process (offer diversification);
- Ensuring placement of 1422 students in apprenticeships and internships in businesses;
- Piloting “New Ways of Learning” and use of technology in the classroom to make learning more attractive and tangible to students;
- Diversifying the VET offer, making it more relevant to the needs of the local private sector companies;
- Setting up a system for tracking VET graduates, in order to collect data on their employment situation after completing the school or vocational training;
- Piloting Career Centres as part of the structure of VET providing institutions, initially with 5 functions. This centre, already envisaged in the new VET law, is known as the ‘Development Unit’ and includes 7 functions (career guidance and counselling, business relations, school curriculum development, institutional marketing, tracing system, staff development, project development);
- Establishing twinning agreements with Swiss schools and ensuring participation of students in national and international competitions, where they have been consistently winning awards.
A new beginning: “Skills for Jobs” Phase II
The end of the first phase is just another beginning for the “Skills for Jobs” team. In May 2019, the project officially entered the new phase which will last until June 2023.
During the second phase, the project will focus more on transferring good practices to more VET providers; empowering institutions and creating a culture to drive change as a constant part of their work and bringing private sector companies to the heart of the institution and get them actively engaged on school board, in the processes of curricula update and offer diversification and establishing a norm in providing apprenticeships for school students.
Based on these objectives, the five main pillars (Intervention Lines) of S4J Phase II are:
- Employers’ and partners relations,
- Diversification of VET offer,
- New Ways of Inclusive Learning and Quality,
- Work-Based Learning in cooperation with employers, and
- Organisational Development.
Key features of “Skills for Jobs” Phase II
- Scaling-up approach: the vocational “Ali Myftiu” and “Salih Ceka” schools in Elbasan and the Technical – Economic School of Tirana will benefit from the Swiss support. Two more providers will join the project in 2021. In addition, the project will provide indirect support to all other VET providers in Albania, by offering exposing them to VET policy platforms, capacity building events, manuals and materials produced by the project;
- All vocational directions: the project will support direct providers to implement apprenticeships for school students enrolled in all vocational directions;
- Systemic changes: the project will continue to focus on piloting initiatives that prove to be beneficial not only for the direct providers, but for the whole VET system.