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The coronavirus pandemic disturbed the normal function of the entire world. Healthcare systems were hit the hardest and, like an avalanche, it disrupted the development of the economy, tourism and hospitality, transport, it halted the educational process and brought about severe consequences to the remaining activities. Countries in this period were dealing with the consequences independently, according to the approaches they have adopted. Our country is no exception, considering that the pandemic has an impact on all segments of society, including people’s behavior, economic productivity and the process of education and thereby, on the system of formal vocational education and training and the system of informal education concerning development of professional skills.

This motivated the project Education for Employment in North Macedonia, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by HELVETAS North Macedonia, Macedonian Civic Education Center and the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, to carry out an analysis of the Impact of COVID-19 on the Macedonian system for professional skills/vocational education and training development, as well as on the project Education for Employment in North Macedonia.

Emphasis was placed on development of practical and professional skills in the system of formal vocational education and training and in the system of informal education, the attitude of the private sector toward the development of practical skills and the impact of COVID-19 on the delivery of practical skills.

Due to the students’ absence from the educational process, the practical classes and the practice at school and laboratories, from following the practical training in a real workplace environment and the trainings for requalification and further qualification resulting from the pandemic, expectations were that the analysis would show that this situation was harder for the formal vocational education and the informal learning concerning development of professional skills, rather than the general gymnasium education. Students in vocational education and training are supposed to learn in two different locations: school and company, whereas general education is only being offered in schools making it safer for any type of teaching solutions. The consequences were especially felt during the realization of the practical training across all formats, which is a precondition for acquiring practical skills.

The analysis has shown that the crisis revealed the minimal investments in infrastructure, human resource development, practical training, the processes of decentralization in the area of education, the market orientation of the programs, digitization, which altogether contribute to the poor effects of the formal and informal education in the development of professional skills, where they even fail to meet the student’s expectations for attractive skills, as well as the expectations of the employers to find trained labor in our country.

Therefore, the conclusion remains that our country requires market-oriented, functional and inclusive system of vocational education and training and greater participation and engagement of the private sector, with the focus being on developing practical skills as an only option to ensure skilled and qualified labor, which is necessary for the development of the Macedonian economy, as well as to create opportunities for employment and thereby, retaining the people in our country.



Natasha Janevska, M.A
Project manager in the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia