Technical school in Vlasotince as a vocational school is among the first schools in Serbia which introduced a dual education system supported by local authorities and even 30 companies providing our students with apprenticeship programs.
The school must constantly follow the job market demands in order to accomplish its purpose and the reason for our cooperation with the economy is to offer job-specific training to our students for the required professions, that is, to provide them with work-based skills which can lead them to an increased employment opportunity or further education.
Our main goal is connecting Technical school with the economy to provide students with vocational training for high-demand professions on job markets, that is, for faster employment or further improvement. Initiated by our school, the cooperation was accepted by companies because a dual education system is significant for both the economy and the students. It is a new education system in Serbia and our school is unique with its variety of departments and the largest number of companies that provide our students with vocational training and a compensation for work-based learning.
Public private partnership, accomplished through the agreement between the school and the companies, local authorities and GIZ, is the crucial element of the success story
Vlasotince is a small town with 30,000 inhabitants and two secondary schools. One of them is Technical school with 640 students in 25 classes and the following departments: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Textile Design, Electronic Engineering and Economics. In 1920 when it was founded, its name was The School of the Economy Students, indicating its direction of further development. Although the name changed, dedication to continual development, by considering the local economy needs and innovating vocational training corresponding with those needs, remained.
Through the project “Vocational Education Reform”, realized by Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia and German development agency – GIZ, joined with the town municipality, the school received reconstruction means for the workshops and the companies donated the equipment.
Nowadays the first-year students of Technical school have practical training in workshops with modern equipment. In the following years, they complete apprenticeships in companies, which employ them if they reach the required level of competence. During the time spent in companies, besides acquiring practical knowledge and skills, the students learn business communication and work discipline.
The school has been cooperating with the German school “Hugo Eckener” within the project “Partnership at work” for 10 years. During the period of cooperation, the school has established a contact with another school from Germany, “Claude Dornier”, which donated three machines to our school for practical training.
Our first target group is final-year students in primary schools who need professional orientation. Another target group is companies that recognize the importance of active participation in youth education as the necessary workforce.
Our students are offered apprenticeships in 30 domestic and international companies from Germany, Slovenia and Italy. The tutors working with our students deliver progress reports regularly and describe the students as motivated and inquisitive.
Regarding this matter, the school has been visited by the Prime Minister and the President of Serbia, the Ambassador of Germany, The Serbian Chamber of Commerce, GIZ, company owners, the Ministry representatives, all covered by national and regional media. German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development printed a publication about our school titled “The Success Story” in Serbian and German.
Technical school does not struggle with the general issue of decreasing number of students because its motto is:
OUR SCHOOL PROVIDES VALUABLE KNOWLEDGE FOR YOUR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
Technical school in Vlasotince offers good conditions for improvement and career building to young people in their hometown, preventing them from moving to cities. We have been working on changing the conscience of young people in certain professions so that they could become competent to work in the economy independently after they finish their education without the necessity of additional competence improvement.
The companies recognize the method of active participation in education of their future human resources as useful, because, as one of the company owners stated, “a quality workforce is not found by chance, it must be created.” They are aware that they cannot find the people whose education is supported by someone else, but that the opportunity for the development of a company is in its participation in education.
Through the dual education system, a company receives professional workers who become integrated into the company staff during the education process and the apprenticeship. As school partners, the companies provide the students with quality training and better employment opportunities.
Work-based learning develops students’ abilities for teamwork, it increases the feeling of personal responsibility in the workplace, but it also develops their conscience of the importance of health and safety conditions at work.
Every year before the entrance exam takes place, the school disseminates printed informative material, the school representatives are guests of the local media, public classes and info sessions are organized for all citizens, especially future students and their parents. We also realize activities from the Career Leading and Advising Program (CLAP) in cooperation with primary schools, and recently with kindergartens.
The teachers and students of Technical school visit primary schools to present the school departments and their future prospects on the job market. Info sessions are being organized at school to inform the potential students and their parents about the available options. They also visit the workshops and partner companies where apprenticeships take place. This is concerning especially the Romani community children. We make efforts to overcome gender stereotypes in professional world. Thus, we organize the Day of the Girl Child, to encourage girls to choose their profession according to their interests and abilities.
The companies that follow the students’ progress in the apprenticeship are satisfied with the results and the students’ competence. Furthermore, the students’ experience is extremely positive. Besides vocational knowledge and skills, they point out learning the work process in real-life conditions, teamwork and work ethics. Apart from the companies, the teachers and the headmaster of the school are satisfied as well, because now, realizing that learning has value, the students are more diligent in class, their marks and attendance rates are better.
Our students enter the companies as children and ultimately develop into mature people. They bring in the positive energy to combine with professionalism they learn.
The success story of Technical school based on the dual education system implementation was also awarded and praised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia.