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WBL Implementation in the Republic of North Macedonia

Types of WBL

Types of Work-based Learning

In the North Macedonia, the acquisition of labour-market relevant skills is achieved through:

  • Practical education and
  • Work-based learning.

Practical education is an organized school form which allows students to acquire knowledge, skills and habits which are necessary to perform the work under the qualification, and enables them to quickly get involved in the processes of specific technologies of work. Practical education allows the students to acquire skills such as: team work, communication, organization skills, professional approach etc. With the implementation of practical education, students get a clearer picture of the qualification they are studying and about the work they will be able to perform.

Practical training is implemented as follows:

  • Practical education in school facilities (workshops, laboratories, school companies etc.);

Practical education in real working processes i.e. in relevant companies. Work Based Learning (WBL) is learning that occurs when people do real work in real work environment. The work can be paid or unpaid, but it must be real work that leads to the production of real goods and services (ETF 2014: ).

WBL is an educational strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences, with an opportunity to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities, and enables them to learn a variety of skills by expanding the framework of classroom learning and engaging in community.

WBL occurs in a work setting, typically at an employer’s worksite. The activities must be coordinated with school-based activities in an attempt to show students the “why” of what they are learning. WBL strategies provide career awareness, career exploration opportunities, career planning activities, and help students reach competencies such as positive work attitudes and employability skills.

WBL should not be confused with Practical Education, Work Simulation or other forms of ‘off-the job training’ which is traditionally provided by TVET  (Technical Vocational education and Training Schools) schools in their own workshops and laboratories.

However, WBL can take place in a real company which forms an integral part of a TVET school.

The WBL experience may last from a few hours to hundreds of hours. Thus, for instance, observing the work usually lasts a half-day or a full day. At a large company, observation of the workplace could last for more than one day. Most forms of WBL last over 100 hours.

With the reforms in the four-year technical vocational education in the curricula, work based learning is foreseen in the 3rd and 4th years. In the third year, the curriculum foresees 4 hours per week work based learning or 144 hours per year, while in the fourth year 6 hours a week or 198 hours per year.

The TVET strategies provide an opportunity to apply several different types of WBL, such as:

  • Apprenticeship
  • Business/industry field trips
  • Cooperative education (WBL can be tied to a specific course using the cooperative method, or can be independent from specific coursework. In cooperative education, WBL is tied directly to a specific course. This allows the teacher to have the students connect what they are learning in the classroom with what they are learning in the workplace.)
  • Entrepreneurial experiences
  • Sandwich teaching
  • School-based enterprise
  • Virtual school-based enterprise
  • Ferial/Summer practice (The function, organization and contents of ferial (summer) practice is one type of WBL. It is organized after the end of the school year, and by rule, it is conducted continuously and in relevant companies. By exception, ferial practice may also be organized by the school itself if it possesses an organized and relevant production or other service related processes.)
  • Job shadowing, mentorship, and volunteer learning (often not tied to a specific course and would be considered independent work-based learning.)

WBL experiences may be paid or unpaid. The companies may include different discounts or scholarships as a form of remuneration.

Programmes and Standards

Within the project “Skills Development and Innovation Support” supported by World Bank, various documents were completed (standards of occupations, standards of qualifications, and syllabi and curricula) for three priority qualifications from three sectors. Syllabi and curricula for the first year of schooling were adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science. As of the 2017/2018 school year they are being piloted in the first year in six vocational schools in the country for the following qualifications:

  • Electrical technician for computer technology and automatics, in the Electro-technical sector,
  • Construction technician in the Construction and Geodetics sector, and
  • Hospitality-Tourism technician in the sector Hospitality and Tourism.


The reformed 4-year TVET programmes must be capable of promoting the development of ‘broader’ skills and key competences which are now demanded by the labor market. Among other things, including syllabi, curricula and assessment reform, this reform should be based on new approaches to the four key elements which are:

  • General Education;
  • Vocational Education;
  • Practical Education and training;
  • Practical education
  • Work Based Learning
  • School Programmed Content.

During the third year students should continue to focus on qualification-specific skills development, and should begin to developed skills in relation to a more specific occupational area. During this year skill sampling should be replaced by longer periods of WBL or in-company training. Well planned and supported WBL should account for between 25% to 35% of the available VE time allocated to year 3.  Ratio between GE and VE should be 40/60 as the 4-year TVET programmes, at this stage, becomes increasingly more vocationally orientated.

The primary focus of the fourth year of the reformed 4-year TVET programmes should be on quality assured WBL with between 50% to 60% of available VE time during the fourth year being devoted to either one or two periods of WBL in companies which need and use the occupations the students have chosen as their career choice. Ratio between GE and VE should be 30/70 during year 4.

The three-year programmes have been recently revised or newly developed. These programmes are based on occupational standards and learning outcomes and the share of practical training is around 40%. One-third of the practical training is expected to be conducted at the workplace. In most of the three-year programmes, practical training and WBL take place in all three years. However, the share of practical training and WBL is higher in the last two years.

EVN Macedonia within the project 20-20 20 from the 2017/2018 school year in the education profile- electro installer for electro energetic network, finances the first generation of students in the special EVN class in the VET electrical school “Mihajlo Pupin”. 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. With this project, the students will have practical work in the company until 2020, and then they will be employed and will receive a salary of 20 thousand Macedonian denars.

On September 27, 2017, a three-year Dual Vocational Education Program has been officially launched by the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Macedonia. Supported by German expertise, starting in the academic year 2018/2019 the new qualification “Industrial Mechatronics Technician” will be implemented via pilot classes in the schools “Kiro Spandzov-Brko” in Kavadarci and Sv. Naum Ohridski – Ohrid. This program, which has a duration of four years, is also supported by the companies DMM Dräxlmaier, Kostal, LTH Learnica, ODW-Elektrik, which will conduct the practical training. This will contribute towards development of skills according to the needs of the labor market. The students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to realize wbl continuously during their education, which on the other hand should contribute towards increasing their employability on the labor market after finishing the vocational education.

The programmes are prepared according to a model adopted by the MoES upon proposal оf the Bureau for Development of Education and the VET Centre based on learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the learning outcomes. The curriculum and programmes are developed by representative teams with the active participation of VET advisors, providers of vocational education and training, higher education and employers.


According the Law on Vocational Education and Training, before the practical training starts, a tripartite agreement is compulsory to be concluded by:
– the vocational education institution;
– the employer;
– a student older than 18 years of age, and for a minor student the agreement is signed by the students’ parent or guardian;

This agreement regulates the rights and obligations of the contracting parties in carrying out the practical training of the student, the training conditions, the work and the remuneration for the work.

Practical training at the employer is realized on the basis of the prepared Work Plan for practical training. The student can realize up to 8 hours during one working day, including a break, maximum 40 hours per week.

The contract is composed of 4 (four) equal copies, of which 1 (one) sample is retained by each of the contracting parties and 1 (one) sample for the chambers.

Before the practical training starts, the agreement must be signed and entered in the Registry of students who concluded practical training agreements with the VET institutions and the employer. This register is maintained by Chambers.

The agreement is certified in the Chamber that maintains a Registry of concluded agreements between vocational education and training institutions and employers for practical training of students (the Ministry of Education and Science adopted the Rulebook on the form, content and manner of keeping the register of students that concluded a practical agreement training with the vocational education institution and the employer “Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia” No. 41 of February 27, 2014).

Chambers provide a report on the concluded practical training agreements for students with the VET institution and the employer to the Ministry of Education and Science and the VET Center, every three months.

The contract for practical training can be terminated at the request of the employer, the vocational education institution , the student, or the parent/guardian, if:
– the contract is concluded on the basis of false documents;
– the student, without justified reasons, is absent from three consecutive practices or five times unjustifiably absent from the practice with interruption;
– the student has health problems and, according the opinion of the competent doctor, is not able to continue education;
– the student violates the duties arising from the contract for the implementation of the practical training and the internal regulations of the employer;
– the student is written off from the vocational education institution;
– the employer does not fulfill the terms of the contract.

The employer issues his decision on cancellation of the contract in written form and submits it within 3 days, to the vocational education institution and to the Chamber that keeps the Registry of concluded agreements between vocational education and training institutions and employers for practical training of students,.

The student, the parent / guardian, may request, not more than twice during one school year, to terminate the contract with the employer and to inform the vocational education institution and the appropriate chamber.

If the contract is terminated due to the impossibility of the worker to fulfill the conditions of the contract, the vocational education institution will allow the student to conclude a new contract with another employer.
If the contract for the implementation of the practical training cannot be terminated by contract, the competent court decides.

Pursuant to Article 13 of the Law on Vocational Education and Training, the Vocational Education and Training Center has developed the Standards for practical training of students with employers adopted by the Professional Collegium (No. 07-422 from 08.06.2012)

http: // . The Vocational Education and Training Centre prepares a model/template of the Practical Training Agreement with an Employer, a Form that is attached to the prepared Standards for Practical Training of Students with the Employers.

Guidance and Checklists

The guide for tourism and catering schools and companies for increasing the quality of ferial practice was prepared on the initiative of the MoES and the VET Center, in cooperation with the State Education Inspectorate.

The Guide describes the forms and representation of practical training, the application of legal provisions in its planning and organization, the places where various forms of practical training can be realized, with special emphasis on ferial practice and the recording of the results of practical training in the documentation. In the Guide, ferial practice has been specifically developed, starting from the planning phase, the action plan, finding places for students’ practice, informative meetings with parents and students, through its realization, monitoring and evaluation, to the final report on its performance. The Guide will help the school team to choose the most appropriate way for planning, organizing and implementing practical training.

During the practice, the student is obliged to keep a diary. Upon completing the practice, the mentor describes the achievements of the student and signs the practice diary. Then the diary is placed in the student dossier, i.e. in the student’s portfolio.
After completing the practice, the school sends a gratitude to the company.
– Confirmation of the realized practice
– Feedback form
– Report on the realized practice
– INDICATORS on the quality of the practice (indicators that can be seen in the Indicators for quality of the work of school)

  • The student applies theoretical knowledge in practice.
  • The student acquires new knowledge and skills through the practice.
  • Work independently and responsibly.
  • The student competently performs the given tasks.
  • The student encourages the firm’s interest in accepting feral practice.
  • Confidently meets the requirements of the labor market.
  • The student takes responsibility.
  • The parent is satisfied with the performed feral practice.
  • The student shows practical knowledge at a higher level.
  • The student applies the acquired skills, at home and at school.
  • The student distinguishes between work in school conditions and the actual conditions in the companies.
  • The student deepens the knowledge about his future profession by participating in the work of a company.
  • The facility through the school requires the student for the next engagement, at least once a year, calls for an event.
  • The student shows an increased interest in practical engagement.
  • The student shows self-initiative and responsibility, and the mentor has a positive opinion about his work.
  • The student through the practical work promotes the school and contributes to his image and reputation.
  • The facilities employ students who have realized ferial practice in the past years.
  • The student achieves the goals set in the curriculum.
  • The student receives a positive assessment of the conducted feral practice.

Capacity building activities

A major step forward in the improvement of the employment opportunities for young people aged 15-29 was and still is doing by implementing the “Work Based Learning” program. The program was compatible with the forms of practical training that exist in secondary vocational education.

A program for training mentors from companies for working with students was developed within this program. To ensure the quality of training of mentors from the company, a standard and training program was developed and adopted. The training program is structured in eight modules. Also, the training process includes chambers that keep a register of companies that meet the conditions for receiving students for practical training. Significant activities in organizing trainings for mentors from the company in the last 5 years gave the Chamber of Commerce and Crafts. The training is carried out by experienced VETC counselors. Because the trainings are realized in close cooperation between the chambers and the VETC, the certification of the candidates for successful completion of trainings is done by the Chamber that is organizer and VETC. In the period 2013-2017, certified mentors from companies are close to 340, covered 230 companies, and practical training of students from in VET is realized 973 companies.

With support of Skills Development and Innovation Support Project, SKILS (World Bank), 28 trainers / master trainers were trained (11 advisers from the Vocational Education and Training Center and 17 teachers from secondary vocational schools), who will trained about 2,000 participants (directors, teachers and professional associates from secondary vocational schools) to implement the process of modernization of technical education, as well as the implementation of modularly designed curricula based on learning outcomes and evaluation criteria, including the mandatory area in the third and fourth year – work based learning.

It’s in the starting phase the Project School Meets Business (SmB) with support of KulturKontakt Austria. Duration of the Project: 2018-2020. The regional project “School meets business”, shortened “SmB”, aims to strengthen the capacities and competences of the vocational schools in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia for professional cooperation with the economic community, with a particular focus on the organization and implementation of Work-based Learning. The main focus will be the integration of economic coordinators in schools as the “interface” between the school and the economy.The 36-month project focuses on the development of a task profile for Economic Coordinators (EC), as well as the development of a curriculum for economic coordinators and training of 4 multipliers by country, which, on the basis of the developed curriculum, will train a total of 120 Economic Coordinators. In addition, criteria for the quality of cooperation will be developed between schools and the economic community and a manual for their implementation will be prepared.

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