In Serbia, preparatory work for a national qualifications framework (NQF) is approaching its conclusion: a new NQF law should be ready for parliamentary approval by September.
Torino Process Coordinator Rade Erceg, a vocational teacher at an engineering school near Belgrade, is excited.
‘I am proud that we are so close to the NQF and the development of a new dual [education] system that is closer to the needs of the economy.’
‘Then of course the existence and operation of a VET Council based on genuine social dialogue,’ says Mr Erceg, who is a member of the council representing the country’s largest trade union confederation.
These are some of the developments brought forward through Torino Process monitoring and evaluation, together with work on the so-called Riga Conclusions – priority areas agreed to by ministers of vocational education in Europe and EU candidate countries.
The Torino Process has also been helping to forge cooperation between the VET sector, the Ministries of Education, Science and Technological Development and National Education and other partners that include employer associations and the unions.
Priorities are to ensure the NQF is successfully delivered, that sectoral councils keep on top of labour market demands, and that new curricula are developed with more practical training based in a system of dual education.
According to Rade Erceg, one of the biggest economic and training challenges is the informal economy. It is estimated that as many as a third of people employed in agriculture, tourism, catering and construction are off the books.
Low wages, a lack of labour inspectors and porous borders that allow for extensive smuggling of cigarettes, alcohol and high value textiles, are all factors that make tacking the issue difficult.
‘The formal economy and developing skills in the workforce is where upward pressure can be put on wages and conditions.’
On a brighter note, he says, a recent good practice is the increased participation of employers in providing vocational training.
For example, 50+ new dual education training schemes brought forward through an initiative by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Good practice examples like this will be showcased at the upcoming Torino Process international conference, June 7-8, in Turin.