TIRANA, March 7
Building partnerships between VET institutions and the private sector means to launch qualified newly graduated students into a labor market that creates jobs and innovation.
While vocational education and training institutions like Kamza Multifunctional Centre work to deepen the youth talent pool, more efforts are required to facilitate integration into the marketplace. Connecting talent to opportunity is the broken link that the German Association of Industry and Trade in Albania DIHA aimed at fixing during a meeting organized between representatives of German companies in Albania with the staff and students of Kamza MFC.
Albania overview, education, youth, and the labor market
“High youth unemployment and high unemployment even among well-educated people are signs of the need for improved quality and relevance of the education received. A large share of enterprises reported lack of appropriately skilled workers…. Gradual progress was made in establishing VET multifunctional centers and work continued on the national qualification framework.” Albania Report 2016, Communication on EU Enlargement Policy.
When it comes to EU accession, Albania has major reforms to undertake and issues to tackle, and the lack of a qualified workforce is not to be neglected because: “Matching educational outcomes and labor market needs is a key component of the Europe 2020 strategy.”
Even though reported since 2016 the statement taken from the Progress Report echoes any time a survey or stats on youth unemployment are released. On the other hand, this statement seems to include both the root of the problem and the solution to decrease unpleasing rates of unemployment and to increase the vitality of the young workforce. The education system needs to keep pace with the country’s economy that’s evolving towards a service-driven model.
The stimulus package in the tourism sector is an optimal example. If the initiative succeeds to attract the aimed investments, more employment opportunities will emerge. They will bring economic development and also improve the business climate, and the FDI’s stock will increase.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) schools and centers provide young people all the necessary qualities and skill set to integrate and succeed in the labor market. Yet, there’s much to be done in order to reverse the stigma surrounding VET students. In Albania like in many other countries of the Balkans and even in the EU, the education system has been very selective. Said in other words, this means that the best performing students in secondary schools prefer high schools while the other students with lower grades attend vocational education and training centers.
According to the European opinion survey on VET conducted by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), three in four EU citizens share the same point of view as Albanians.
In short, Albanians parents and students need to see all the possible paths to successful careers.
Here’s the case of Kamza MFC. The students that enroll in this school must have a high average GPA over 9, while labs and infrastructure are better than in universities.
BPO, the labor market, and VET
These three sectors hinge on each-other. BPO is no longer only about call centers. There are many factors why international companies decide to outsource their services to a certain country. What about Albania?
1. Cost efficiency (lowest minimum wage in Europe)
2. Global Access (strategic geography)
3. Overall logistic performance (satisfying)
4. Business-friendly environment (loading)
5. Connectivity (Albania is a wired country)
6. Livability standards (modern, yet cheap Mediterranean living)
7. In Good Company (Various foreign companies offering diversified services)
8. The right talent (we need to talk about this)
Provide the ecosystem for success
About a year ago, in a meeting of the Albania Investment Council regarding the challenges of the labor market in the BPO sector, it was highlighted that the market is diversifying. This means that companies are looking for more than a cheap labor market and knowledge of foreign languages (the two factors why call centers flourished in Albania). They’re looking for a workforce that meets the requirements of technological development.
“The education and training systems in place, lack elements of “serious” involvement of the business in curricula as well as in the monitoring of students’ practices, career offices or other projects,” was said during the meeting.
This is the issue that the German Association of Industry and Trade in Albania DIHA and ProSeed Project want to tackle. They aim at establishing cooperation between the school and the private sector by starting four-week internships for the students of Kamza MFC in the German companies or branches that currently operate in Albania. Representatives of the companies had the opportunity to attend a detailed presentation of the school and visit various labs and classes.
DIHA’s Executive Director Hartmut Jarosch said that for the first time pupils will put theory into practice.
In the meantime, Ergys Prifti from the ProSeed Project invited all the companies in Albania to look for talent among the young skilled pupils of Kamza MFC.
MFC Kamza is the first center that provides vocational education for pupils and adults at the same time. Adults that can’t afford to pay for the training attend classes for free while others pay a symbolic fee. An example that can be mentioned is CISCO training. The students get training and certification for free while, the cost of this course in private centers goes up to Euro 2,000.
Kamza Multifunctional Centre brings international experience both for students and teachers and it also focuses on expanding the facility’s infrastructure by building new workshops and providing teaching equipment.
Learning by doing is one of the principles followed in this school. Currently, 1,736 students study at MFC Kamza and they gain skills in IT, mechanics, nursing, agriculture, and hotel and tourism. In a national level VET tackles unemployment while in a local level, it empowers the youth of Kamza, one of the poorest areas in Albania, for a fast-changing labor market and for an active social role.
At the end of the meeting between the school staff and business representatives, the latter highlighted that they are looking for motivated young people willing to learn more and that can turn into future employees.
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