After signing the “Memorandum of Understanding on Apprenticeship Partnership Formation in Republic of Croatia”, on January 29th, 2018 at the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, round table “Partnership for more quality apprenticeships” was held.
At the beginning of the round table, Mirela Lekić, head of Department for Vocational Education and Human Resources Development of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts presented activities of the Erasmus + KA3 “Get involved in Ep4A: European partnerships for apprenticeships” project, with special emphasis on the activities which preceded the signing of Memorandum.
Dragutin Ranogajec, president of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts greeted the round table participants and pointed out that apprenticeship in Croatia has a long tradition and that tradesmen and craftsmen recoginesed the importance of getting involved in vocational education very early. That is why the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, from 1994 and the making of the Law on Crafts, has been actively advocating an education system which would fit the needs of tradesmen and craftsmen. In that sense, he highlighted the project “Get involved in EP4A”, which objective is to form partnerships between key stakeholders in vocational education.
Two main topics of the round table were the importance of apprenticeship in Croatia for particular institutions and how to ensure better and more quality apprenticeships through partnership.
Ana Mandac, assistant minister of economy, entrepreneurship and crafts, said that the signing of Memorandum of understanding was an important step toward further cooperation in vocational education. As for the financial support which the Ministry provides, she pointed out the project “Scholarships for students in craft professions” for which 18 million kuna was ensured. Additionally, the Ministry provides wages for mentors through the project “Apprenticeships for craft professions” and motivates employers to take apprentices. For this project, the Ministry ensured 5 million kuna.
Frano Matušić, state secretary of Ministry of tourism, highlighted the importance of ensuring qualified workforce for tourism in order to ensure quality of tourist offer. In regard to that, he pointed out the importance of signing the Memorandum as an important document which ensures cooperation between key institutions. He especially emphasized the importance of economy in that sense and said that tradesmen and craftsmen, small and medium entrepreneurs need support from institutions, especially in ensuring a legal framework so they would feel ready to get actively involved in education. Additionally, he mentioned the changes to the Law on Vocational Education, which will enable establishment of competences centers, as places of excellence for vocational education. “For the sector of tourism and hospitality the most important thing is to keep the qualified workforce and ensure new workforce”, concluded Matušić.
Majda Burić, state secretary of Ministry of Labour and Pensions System, pointed out the Croatian Qualifications Framework, as a tool of harmonization of labour market needs and education system. She pointed out that the Framework is a tool for reform which starts from the needs of employers when designing educational programs. “With occupational standards, students will gain those competences which will help them to find work after finishing vocational education, ensuring higher employability of young people”, said Burić. She also mentioned the development of an analytical internet interface with the aim to connect all databases and matching them with the European databases, in order to gain a complete overview of needs for competences and professions on the labour market. Finally, she emphasized that 5 of 9 active employment policy measures include education with the purpose for the unemployed to gain additional skills and competences. She pointed out especially the importance of vocational professions promotions, in order to stop their unequal treatment in comparison to gymnasium programs.
Vlado Prskalo, assistant minister of science and education, commended the efforts of the Chamber in the area of vocational education as well as signing of the Memorandum as an important event for furthering the cooperation on all levels. He pointed out that the Ministry of Science and Education is ready for dialog and further development of vocational education policies. He also emphasized the importance of changes to the Law on Vocational Education, in order to make all the discussed changes happen.
Mile Živčić, director of the Agency for Vocational Education and Adult Education, pointed out skills development for students enrolling in vocational education as the most important part of apprenticeships. Additionally, as an example of the intermediary role of the Agency he pointed out a number of regional workshops which were held at the end of 2017. The workshops gathered all important stakeholders in vocational education with the aim to promote vocational professions. Živčić also announced that the Agency is preparing a couple of important projects, such as making of new curricula, in which all of the stakeholders will be involved. Also, he put special emphasis on the employment of qualified workforce, which has knowledge and skills for the job.
Božo Pavičin, the independent advisor at the President’s Office in the Croatian Chamber of Economy, pointed out the importance of apprenticeship for their members saying that apprenticeship is the only way for employers to ensure quality and qualified workforce already during school. He emphasized especially the drastic decrease in the number of students enrolled in vocational professions during last 10 years. However, he said that Croatia already has the developed system of education which includes apprenticeship and how everyone needs to work further on that system.
Within the round table, the signing of “Statement of support to Apprenticeship Partnership” was organized and it was signed by Ante Lončar, the director of Croatian Employment Service, Anita Mijić, the deputy head of Administrative Department for Education, Culture and Sport in Zadar county, Tihomir Tomčić, the director of Vice Vlatkovic vocational school in Zadar and Dubravka Korzo, the representative from craft.
Among Croatian Employment Service activities, Mr Lončar pointed out the recommendations for education policies based on labour market analyses, professional guidance by CISOK centers and the project within the active policy measures which includes more easier public procurement procedures for educational centers conducting education. Ms Mijić presented good practice example from Zadar county which monitors students after they finish the school. Mr Tomčić said that the example of possible partnership on local and regional level are regional cooperation boards, which are incorporated in the Strategy of science, education and technology. Finally, Korzo emphasized that she hopes that the signing of Memorandum, as well as all other project activities she participated, are the beginning of common future of economy and education. Also, she hopes that she will continue to contribute to the improvement of vocational education and training system.
All participants from the round table agreed that partnership of all stakeholders is the only way to success of quality vocational education and training and competitive economy in general, which was also the concluding remark by Dragutin Ranogajec in his concluding speech saying that it is time to do the actual work. Also, Mr Ranogajec announced that partners have big work ahead of them, especially through the promotion of craft professions, especially to students and their parents. “Together, we will secure the future of Croatian economy”, he concluded and by that finished the round table “Partnership for quality apprenticeship”.