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Cap4App is a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Erasmus + programme, with the objective of strengthening the capacities of the chambers and partners to help SMEs to engage in apprenticeship.

About

Project title: Strengthening the Capacities of the Chambers and Partners to Help SMEs to Engage in Apprenticeship
Project acronym: Cap4App
Coordinator Organisation: Croatian Chamber of Economy (CCE) 
Total budget: 530.537,00 €
Sub-programme or KA: ERASMUS + KA3 – Support for Policy Reform
Planned duration: 24 months (start October 2016)


The Project aims at strengthening the organizational capacities of the CCE and partner institutions in confronting the challenges of vocational education and training (VET) reform and to ultimately provide support to SMEs already engaged or planning to engage in apprenticeships.

Project will have effect in intensification of cooperation among key stakeholders in the field of VET and will strengthen their influence on policy and educational system.
Project provides better understanding of work-based learning in companies and the development of models for their better implementation.

Through collaboration with Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and the introduction of good practices, project partners will acquire knowledge and experience that will be applicable in the Croatian context. Project will work on identifying the obstacles small and medium sized enterprises are facing when taking on apprentices and to train advisors to work with enterprises and schools.
Taking into account existing national regulatory framework, project will developed methods and criteria for selection of SMEs interested in taking on apprentices, training program of in-company mentors that suit their capabilities, and motivate SMEs to take on apprentices.

Project background

Currently in Croatia an insufficient amount of vocational learning is provided in real work environment in enterprises. According to a 2014 survey of employers (Zaposlimo Hrvatsku), one of the main problems they face is a skills gap, i.e. the skilled labour shortage, especially among young people. Employers indicate that the competencies acquired in the traditional education system are not adequate to the competencies required for successful performance of activities in the workplace. This may be partly the reason of low levels of youth employment in Croatia. This is especially prominent in vocational occupations.

This situation calls for measures to enhance the attractiveness and quality of VET in Croatia. Currently students gain limited practical experience during schooling, mainly through traineeship in schools where the real working conditions are simulated, and only in a small part through traineeship in companies or through apprenticeships in bound crafts. WBL in companies increases employers’ access to workers with relevant skills and knowledge and helps students transition to the world of work. Countries with strong dual vocational education and training systems where learning and practice occur in the company have the lowest youth unemployment rates (OECD 2010). VET programmes must respond to society’s structural changes especially high unemployment rates among young people. It is necessary to adapt the education system, so that students can gain quality work experience during education, and not to be additionally trained through expensive measures, which only keep them from the negative statistics.

For work-based learning (WBL) to become a common practice in Croatia the effort has to be twofold. On the one hand it is crucial to engage companies, through familiarizing them with benefits such as avoiding skills mismatch when recruiting new talent, possibility to choose the best talents for future employment and benefits from their productive capacity. On the other, it is necessary to attract young people to vocational training. Unfortunately, the students and parents perception of VET is mostly negative. Vocational occupations are not considered prospective and are usually students’ last choice or are more likely option for students of lower academic achievement. For students, work-based learning experiences provides exposure to professional and organisation setting, helps them to focus their interests and choose suitable career path.

We need a core and tailored approach in designing national policies that strengthen the links between education and training and practices in the workplace, and that are tailored to local needs. Employers demand for talent is an important context for curriculum development and educational reform. EU strategies have recognized the importance of learning in the workplace and lifelong learning in all levels of education, as acquiring, maintaining, and upgrading skills is an essential characteristic for all employees.

A way to establish system of quality is through partnership of all stakeholders that have a role development of VET policy including the ministries, agencies, chambers, schools, enterprises, local communities, parents and employment service. In Croatia there is no thorough statistics/register of apprenticeship as it is divided between ministry and Chamber of Trades and Crafts, counties, etc. Clearer regulations and guidelines have to be created in the implementation of WBL as well as strategy to encourage enterprises to get involved in VET through ensuring incentives for enterprises, establishing better programs for training of in-company mentors that are suitable to their capacities, licensing of mentors, accreditation of companies involved in WBL and creating the register of companies and mentors. In addition, it is important to ensure quality standards in companies involved in WBL and to make sure that apprentices do not compete with employed workers and are not exploited as a cheap labour supply.

Employers are looking for qualified workers, but at the same time they face multiple challenges in an increasingly competitive and unstable economy. A lot of companies have downsized over the past two decades and it is costly and risky to train new employees who have no previous work experience.

Croatian VET programs have not had significant changes over the past two decades, they do not reflect the development of technologies and trends in the profession and are not compatible with the labour market needs. Companies, mostly SMEs, are not actively engaged in providing work-based learning due to the lack of human and financial resources, low appreciation or other reasons. While ongoing educational reform is emphasizing wider implementation of work-based and entrepreneurial learning, there is no unique institution in Croatia which could act as a one-stop point for SMEs interested in apprenticeship. SME’s need assistance in legal, administrative and logistical issues regarding WBL.

We need employers to have more opportunities to collaborate with other VET institutions and participate in shaping vocational programmes that reflect the up-to-date needs of occupations and workplaces as a way to enhance conditions and quality of work-based learning. It is necessary to establish platform for the selection of apprentices among training companies and for the applicants to find apprenticeship posts in SME's, which calls for deeper involvement of chambers in planning and implementation of VET and also making legal and regulatory changes to enable them to enhance their capacities.

This project contributes to raising VET mentors capacities as well as ensuring support for their work and professional development, ultimately enhancing VET attractiveness and relevance. CCE, following the example of  Austrian and German chambers, should have greater role in securing the conditions of implementation of WBL in companies and in identification of the labor market needs.

Partners

Coordinator Organisation:
Croatian Chamber of Economy (CCE)  
Rooseveltov trg 2, 10000 Zagreb
email: cap4app@hgk.hr
 

Partners:
Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ)
South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL)
Croatian Employment Service (CES)
University of Zadar (UNIZD)
Chamber of Trades and Crafts Zagreb (CTCZG)

Objectives & activities

The overall aim of this project is to strengthen the capacities of project partners to provide support for SMEs already engaged or planning to engage in apprenticeships.

The objective of the project is to improve competences of partners’ institutions employees, develop new services and operational capabilities of CCE to help SMEs get involved in work-based learning in the companies at the level of secondary vocational education.

The project will create administrative requirements, procedures and education program for the acquisition of the necessary qualifications and certificates for mentors and trainers. Through promotional activities the project will work to raise awareness on the benefits and importance of such a model of learning among SMEs, but also among the general public. Indirectly, the project activities will affect the public authorities, vocational schools, students and their parents.

Activities:
  • research of the status of different types of work-based learning in companies - published Report;
  • development of cooperation and exchange of information among partners and study visit to Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and creation of model for development of competences of Apprenticeship Advisors;
  • implementation of the "training of trainers": education and training of Advisors to work with enterprises and schools;
  • developing a set of criteria for SMEs interested in implementation of WBL;
  • developing a guidebook for development of competences of mentors in SMEs;
  • developing a training program for mentors;
  • implementation of training for mentors through e-learning tools (implementation of pilot project);
  • developing of a central database for the mentoring system in enterprises;
  • development of an efficient system of apprenticeship;
  • promotion of project activities.

Outcomes

  1. Published analysis on state-of-play of different types of WBL in enterprises: available here
  2. Developed model for the development of competences of Apprenticeship Advisors
  3. Carried out training for trainers - employees of CCE and partners institution to work with SMEs and schools
  4. Developed set of criteria for the selection of companies interested in implementation of WBL
  5. Developed guidebook for in-company mentors considering the required teaching and pedagogical competences
  6. Developed training program for in-company mentors and exam for mentors
  7. Developed data base of SMEs and mentors
  8. Conducted promotional activities on project activities and results to target groups; improved visibility of VET
  9. Developed recommendations for the improvement of WBL in companies for the national authorities in the field of VET
  10. Published reports and organized conferences on projects results. 

Cap4App in media

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Hgk.hr: Burilović: Glas gospodarstva u kurikuralnoj reformi ne smije se ignorirati

 
Seecel.hr: Cap4App studijsko putovanje

Seeecel.hr: Cap4App Training of Coaches in Austria

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The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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