DUAL EDUCATION, BENEFITS AND EUROPEAN COMMISSION ASSESSMENT
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DUAL EDUCATION, BENEFITS AND EUROPEAN COMMISSION ASSESSMENT

There is a prevalent opinion that we need to introduce dual education system in our country in order to provide greater flexibility of education in terms of adaptation to the labor market requirements. The EC Report on the progress of our country concludes that approximately 80% of the unemployed persons are long-term unemployed, which reflects the disparity of skills and competences. Unemployment rate has increased from 44% in 2012 to 51.7% in 2018, but in comparison with other regional countries, the level remains relatively low. According to the Report, workforce size has reduced by almost 1% in the last 5 years, but that is due to the mass emigration.

However, it would be an illusion to think that the dual education system could be established immediately. This is a long-term process that requires serious steps and therefore, we began with project initiatives in education at present. It is important to bring the companies closer to the student where he or she could feel the company’s spirit and demystify the term – working for an employer. This implies “I hear and I forget quickly, I see and I remember, but what I do on my own – I know well.” Only through this approach, we can understand the needs of the new age - capable and skilled people that will increase enterprise competitiveness, but also reduce unemployment rate.
Dual education brings about new challenges, but this does not mean we are not able to resolve them. We need to transform them into seven benefits of ours:

First, it promotes the dynamism and adaptability of education to the relevant needs of the real sector and economy and thereby, contributes to the reduction of unemployment and to a competitive economy. The EC Report notes that the disparity between the skills students have acquired and those demanded by the companies limits the growth potential.

Second, it promotes modernization of curricula according to existing qualifications and design of new qualifications according to the economic and technology requirements and stronger role of the National Qualifications Framework. The EC Report highlights the role of the established Sectoral Qualification Commissions, being responsible for analysis of the existing qualifications, proposing new qualifications and providing opinions on the conformity of the Occupation Standards and Qualification Standards with the examination programs. 

Third, it conducts a process for achieving relevant learning results through modularization of curricula and ensures flexible approach to the practical training in employers. Likewise, it promotes the attractiveness of vocational education. The Report concludes that there is ongoing learning through work and improvement of the practical training quality, but we must focus on introduction of more flexible, modular curriculum concerning vocational education and training with direct involvement of employers.

Fourth, it promotes application of a credit system to the vocational education and training, and credit transfer from one module to another, mobility across the qualifications framework and acquisition of one or more qualifications in an easier and quick manner. It represents a potential to strengthen social inclusion, promote inclusion and equal opportunities. According to the EC Report, there is noticeable gender gap, where 78% of the men are part of the labor market and only 52% of women, with little to no changes in the past 5 year.

Fifth, it provides new approach to teaching and practical training and teachers professionally qualified for this type of classes, shared finances between state and companies and reduction of the companies’ costs related to further qualification. The EC Report places focus on increasing the support for training and further investments in the professional development of teachers in vocational education and training, and establishment of efficient assessment process.

Sixth, it promotes quality cooperation between schools and real sector through synergy between the educational system and the labor market on every level and stronger role of the Chamber throughout the process. The EC Reports notes that the shortage of qualified workers additionally impedes the cooperation between foreign and domestic companies, which hinders the structural transformation of the economy.

Seventh, it provides practical work experience and student earnings as positive contribution toward employment.

Therefore, the phrase dual education – investment in the future is becoming a reality. This implies qualified skilled labor, company competitiveness, increased productivity and transfer of knowledge. 

Natasha Janevska, M.A
Independent Advisor at the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia