➢ News (09.07.2018)
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The projects that aim to increase the competitiveness of the Macedonian companies, and are carried out through the European Union programs were presented at the press conference of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia (09/07/2018).

Increasing the capacities and the competitiveness of the companies is one of the main priorities of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, and with this intention, we carry out activities related to projects from the European Union funds, which should contribute to creating tools and services that will promote the growth, innovativeness, export capacities and the competitiveness of the companies.

“Resulting from the poor utilization of the European funds on the part of the companies, the Chamber is currently carrying out numerous projects by using its own strengths and capacities, which aim to support specific sectors, depending on the European Union programs at disposal, and also aim to create additional opportunities for the companies to raise their capacity, to raise the capacity of their employees or specifically, to help the companies create new innovative products that are in demand on the European markets, or new technological processes that will meet the standards and demands for competitive export potentials”, pointed out Jadranka Arizankovska, senior associate at the Economic Chamber of Macedonia.

From 1 May 2018, the Project “TowaRd market-based skills for sustAINable Energy Efficient construction” (TRAINEE), commenced with activities as a support for the construction sector, with the aim of creating additional capacities for the employees concerning the implementation of the parameters regarding the energy efficiency in construction. The Project is part of the Horizon 2020 program (working program “Secure, clean and efficient energy”), under the call Energy Efficiency EE-2016-2017.

The activities that will be carried out in the upcoming period are divided in multiple areas with the idea of achieving more results, which are expected to be obtained with the completion of the project. Therefore, one segment of activities is directed toward further improvement of the skills of the construction workers in constructing energy efficient buildings by training and prequalification, with the aim of reaching the parameters of the EU Strategy 2020 on energy efficiency. For that purpose, the TRAINEE Project builds upon the results already achieved in the two previous projects, carried out on the part of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, such as the Project “Training construction workers in energy efficiency” 2014-2016, where over 300 workers underwent training for construction of energy efficient buildings and over 1000 workers acquired certificate of obtained energy efficiency skills in construction, based on the model of recognition of previously acquired skills. In the scope of the first Project “Developing skills in energy efficiency” 2012-2013, training schemes were developed and expanded in the interest of the construction professionals – architects, engineers and technicians. Both projects contributed to raising the capacities of the construction workers for energy efficiency in construction.

The current TRAINEE Project will imitate application of tools for building information modeling – BIM on national level, with the aim of developing multidisciplinary approach to sustainable construction. The application of the BIM tool, which is one of the requirements of the new public procurement rules of the European Commission in the area of construction, will be implemented by initiating broad action for raising the awareness of all stakeholders from the construction sector (construction companies, engineers, architects, workers), but also the of the investors and the relevant government institutions, as well as the end occupants of the buildings, through a series of activities, workshops, seminars and other promotional events. The goal is to achieve and demonstrate the energy savings that result from the application of energy efficiency measures in the construction process with the application of the BIM tools.

The activities in the scope of the Project will initiate admission of the upgraded skills of the construction workers on the part of the market by ensuring cooperation with various professional groups. One of the tasks is to boost the need for using qualified workforce in construction by submitting proposals concerning legislative correction, with the aim of meeting the standards outlined in the Rulebook on energy performance of buildings.

The expected impact areas of the Project are separated in 2 groups:

- Creating policies on sustainable construction: proposals regarding interventions in legislation by promoting the application of the Rulebook on energy performance of buildings, draft-methodology for recognizing prior knowledge, and the draft-guide for introducing BIM (Building Information Modeling) tools on national level. These project results are available to the Ministries of Economy and of Education and Science as direct beneficiaries. The number of indirect beneficiaries may reach up to 100,000 owners of apartments, subject to lease (which need to adhere to the provisions of the aforementioned Rulebook on energy performance of buildings), as well as around 5000 new apartment owners, same as the number of newly built apartments per year. It is worth including around 1000 unemployed people per year that can be involved in the prequalification programs of the national employment agency.

The second area where the Project is expected to have an impact is the development of capacities and skills toward developing technical skills, as well as the market impact.

Developing capacities for technical skills refers to preparation of innovative schemes for training and acquiring qualifications via informal education, with potential beneficiaries being 200 construction companies, 100 informal education providers, 4000 construction professionals and 9600 construction workers (figures defined in the Guide on development of energy efficiency skills).

The impact on the market value of the skills of energy efficient construction will be achieved by measurable demonstration of the reduction of energy consumption of the buildings, wherein energy efficiency measures are applied, which will be achieved by applying the BIM tools, and the development of organizational capacities for sustainability of the project results will be achieved by establishing a Knowledge Center, as basic Project result, which will ensure sustainability of the results achieved even after the completion of the project. For that reason, a business plan will also be developed.

The second project being currently carried out in the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, in partnership with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering within the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University – Skopje, is intended to raise the capacities and the competitive capabilities of the electrical and metal industry and to introduce systems to the companies for creation of new products, introduction of new technological processes or introduction of standards that will enable cooperation with the existent and future foreign investors in Macedonia.

The Project “Increasing the competitiveness of the domestic small and medium-sized enterprises to improve their cooperation with the foreign investors” is carried out in the scope of the IPA Program, in the segment competitiveness and will be implemented in the following two years.

The main objective is to improve the performance of certain companies in the Republic of Macedonia, in order to make them more competitive and to enable them to cooperate better with the foreign direct investments, (but also with other foreign companies, which means raising their export capacities as well).

As part of the Project, theoretical and practical trainings will be carried out in the companies, which, upon prior analysis, showed interest and capability for concrete cooperation with the companies that are part of the foreign investors in the country.

Specifically, an employee training will be carried out in 10-15 companies using the finest approaches to the new management models, as well as industrial projects in 5 companies in the span of 10-12 months, which should represent a bridge and eliminate the obstacles for cooperation between the foreign investors and the domestic companies. The trained companies are supposed to enlist a specific cooperation with some of the foreign investment companies in Macedonia, as a result from the Project.

In the long-term, this project is expected to increase the competitiveness of the domestic companies from the metal and electric and metal industry and increase the employment in this sector, as well as to achieve high level of implementation of modern management models.

Concurrently with these two projects, another Project is carried out in the Economic Chamber of Macedonia, which is aimed at improving the capacities of the companies for regulation implementation, under the USAID Project “Partnership for better business regulation”, where the main business sectors that this project encompasses are as follows: agriculture and food industry, textile, construction, IT and tourism, with detailed analysis of all regulations in these sectors, but experience has shown that other sectors as well, require this support.

Through this project, where the Economic Chamber of Macedonia appears as partner, alongside with the other chambers of commerce, we aim for better information and support for the companies in the segment of implementation of legal regulations, with the intention of decreasing the misdemeanors and increasing the capacity of the companies for better implementation of the laws.

This Project aims to establish better business environment by conducting numerous activities, such as informative events and forums on specific topics of interest to the companies, by applying the voucher scheme where the companies receive concrete support regarding the implementation of certain legal regulation, by using the already established aggregator BIZNISREGULATIVA.MK where the companies receive information in relation to the RM laws and support for their implementation, by establishing public-private dialogue with the government institutions, aiming at presentation of specific problems that the companies face as regards issues in implementation of the laws and their resolution, and by specific comparative analyses and specific draft-solutions.

These are part of the projects that are being carried out by the Economic Chamber of Macedonia at the moment, and are in the interest of creating tools for increasing the competitiveness of the Macedonian companies. The upcoming period is expected to deliver opening of additional funds on the part of the EU, which will help strengthen the competitive capabilities of the economy.

Jadranka Arizankovska