Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
With the aim to bridge the current skills gap and contribute to having a qualified pool of candidates to satisfy future staffing needs and having in mind the aging workforce of electro-fitters which count for more than 40% of the employees of the company (one of the biggest employers in the country), the leadership of EVN Macedonia recognized the need to contribute to the ongoing efforts and reforms in the vocational education in the country. Internal discussions at EVN Macedonia on the current skills gap, under the Project 20-20-20 umbrella coincided with the establishment of the National Committee for WBL made possible by a decision of the Minister of Education and Science with inclusion of the relevant stakeholders on state level. ETF coordinated the Committee and supported the overall project by enabling best practices exchange and providing technical guidance and support.
This Project is unique in the country and implemented upon written approval from the Minister of Education and Science. The 20-20-20 Project was made possible thanks to the close and continuous collaboration between EVN Macedonia, the VET Centre, the MoES and the VET School Mihajlo Pupin based in the capital Skopje. It resulted with preparation of the new curriculum with increased number of practical classes and classes for vocational subjects, in comparison with the current curriculum. New subject “Work Safety and Environment Protection” was introduced to show the importance of these areas. Part of the practical classes is conducted in EVN upon gaining the minimum knowledge in the special cabinet which simulates the workplace in the company and contains parts of the energy grid.
The 20-20-20 project received wide support, among others by the Macedonian Employers Association and the Trade Union, as it will train the future work-force not only for the needs of the company but also for all companies working in the energy field, and will also significantly improve the employability of apprentices. Social partners from the Company and the Energy Branch Trade Union were involved from the beginning and they also took part at the ceremony of signing the Memorandum for Cooperation with the VET School.
Comprehensive learning outcomes are defined, facilitating development and improvement of both job-related competencies as well soft skills supporting personal development and easier transition to the work world. Learning outcomes for each day spent in the company are developed together with the other relevant stakeholders and Quality Assurance Mechanisms put into place to guarantee successful project. In order to ensure a high quality of work-based learning, in-company trainers were trained according to European standards and awareness was raised at all levels of the company. In-company trainers were selected based on 2 criteria, proposal by their Managers based on technical expertise (1) and based on the competence model containing soft skills via behavioural based interviews done by trained HR experts and have undergone training for Mentors who work with VET students according to Macedonian standards and in addition trained according the Austrian standards. Continuous professional development of In-Company Trainers is established to meet the needs of knowledge transfer to students and sharing best practices as well as identifying potential for improvement of the program. A project team (composed by experienced Engineers, development specialists, as well as senior and top management) is designated to cooperate closely with VET School, VET Center and all relevant stakeholders on state level including the Minister of Education and Science.
All apprentices have written contract with EVN Macedonia and the VET School, are insured and the norms from the applicable collective agreements apply for them. Apprentices receive compensation in the first year for the summer month internship and starting from the second year monthly compensation relative to the time spent in the company. Special emphasis is put on the training for and complying with relevant regulations and legal requirements on working conditions, in particular health and safety legislation.
Image and Awareness promotional activities on state level as well as campaigns and announcements in the media and through social and professional networks, as well as distributing information among own employees and stakeholders with active media campaign to promote our apprenticeship program scheme and the image of the occupation resulted with big increase in interest and enrollment from 9 students in the previous year to 36 students in the first year from diverse social backgrounds, nationalities and gender.
This is a three year programme and it has been developed for the needs of the company). This good practice has been pointed out by all schools, companies and students, who would like to have more companies in the future to follow this example (unfortunately, we have few big companies that could withstand it). EVN is considering spreading this program in other electro technical schools in the country.