. . . Or so we are all told. Yet, in many parts of the world education systems are still failing to utilise professional practice offered to students within the labour market needs and equipping youth with relevant employability skills. 

Currently, this is a major issue in Kosovo as well. To get a clear picture on the actual situation and circumstances of employer engagement level with Vocational Education Training (VET) providers in Kosovo, it’s best to get background and factual information from relevant individuals and institutions working within the field. When you talk to employers and employment agencies it is stated that they have consistently raised concerns that young people are leaving education without key employability skills and a general awareness of how business world works. Many are frustrated by the failings of the traditional two week ‘work experience’ block, and share the view that more must be done to improve the authenticity of work experience and the quality of employer engagement in education.

Both learning and work are changing rapidly, and this has implications for individuals’ career paths. Young people in VET schools today face a future where they will experience several moves from one job to another, making it necessary to continue to update their knowledge and skills. They are more likely to be self-employed at some point in their lives or at least manage several part-time or temporary contracts which is why it is crucial to engage employers as they face increasing demands to be directly involved in influencing the education system. 

Doruntina Jakupi, Deputy CEO of HeadHunter Group, says that: ‘In my opinion, VET schools should use a combination of curriculum models to provide their learners with experiences of the world of work. These could include:

  • a core programme, usually taught by specialist staff from specific employer or tutors who have training and resources to teach it
  • contributions from subjects that reinforce the core programme and help young people recognise the relevance of subject learning to adult life
  • planned timetabled activities such as enterprise days and work experience.’

Furthermore, as an expert in career building and empowering, Ms.Jakupi believes that VET schools should create strong links with local employers. ‘Employers could act as learner mentors and assessors – and contributing to the design of assessments – in aid of shaping the curriculum. Employers also contribute towards specifying and improving employability skills and learning outcomes. Employability skills in this case will run through all aspects of the curriculum, from the way students learn, to the qualifications they achieve. Employers can ensure that young people develop these skills by helping to shape the curriculum and type of qualifications offered in VET schools in Kosovo.’

When talking to our partners in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, specifically the Department of VET Reform, it is agreed that one of the models that can really help push forward the development of the VET schools and equip students with skills to fit the needs of the labour market – is the apprenticeship model. This because it pushes all stakeholders to participate in the planning of a training programme, since in some cases teaching in classrooms doesn’t reflect the skills needed in the labour market. 

Through a training needs analysis, the employer is able to identify the business needs and skills gaps and also contribute through participation in sector skills committees to develop occupational standards that describe the labour market needs. 

Employers can shape the curriculum. By developing strong links between employers and VET providers, it enables young people to develop basic employability skills, and for the VET system it delivers a curriculum that meets the actual needs of business community and helps plan the future skills needs. 

In the end, we need to make sure that there is a connection between the education and training system and the employers. Employers and VET schools need to hold a joint stake in equipping students with the right skills for employability and that can only be done by working together.

Donika Berisha is Programmes Manager for the British Council in Kosovo.