Open Space Member • 28 August 2019
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2019

The national reporting framework

Building block A: Country and VET overview

A.1: Country background

 

A.1.1 Introduction

Following national elections held in June 2017, the incumbent government was elected in September 2017 by a wide coalition of political parties forming a tight majority in the Kosovo Assembly. The Government Programme for the period 2017-2021  is built on four pillars: 

 

  1. Rule of Law with focus on combating corruption and organised crime, by introducing changes in legislations and conducting full functional review of the Rule of Law sector;
  2. Economic Development and Employment - aiming at ensuring sustainable economic development with the average growth rate of 5-7%; 
  3. Euro-Atlantic Integration – strengthening Kosovo’s position in the international community by increasing number of recognitions by other countries and ensuring membership in relevant international organisations;
  4. Sectorial Development – the focus is on the following sectors: Education, Health, Social Welfare, Environment and spatial planning, as well as Culture, Youth and Sports;

According to IMF, Kosovo’s economic growth in 2018 is expected to be among the highest in the Western Balkans Region – 4%, whereas for 2019 it is projected at 4.2%, due to expected acceleration in public investment . However, as outlined in the report, pressures for higher social benefit spending are likely to increase the fiscal deficit. 

Development of the Human Capital is the first pillar of the Kosovo’s Development Strategy 2016-2021 (NDS) . The interventions directly linked to Education and Employment include:

1) enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in school’s system;

2) linking education programmes with the labour market demands;

3) improving testing, inspection and accreditation in the education sector;

4) optimising expenditures in education by advancing data collection systems;

5) addressing informal employment and creating adequate working conditions for employees.

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (KESP)  is the basic document for the development of the education sector in Kosovo. The document was developed in the period June 2015-July 2016 through a highly participatory process led by MEST, and based on the assessment  of the previous strategic plan – KESP 2011-2016. In general terms, the development of the KESP took place in the context of an awareness of the four common EU objectives to address challenges in education and training systems by 2020, detailed in Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020) . Vocational Education and Training is one of the seven areas of KESP, and the main challenges to be addressed in this field are: 1) Non-compliance of VET programmes with labour market requirements; 2) Difficulties in provision of teaching materials for VET; 3) Lack of VET core curriculum; 4) Serious flaws in internship and professional practice; 5) Lack of career guidance and counselling.
Increasing employment and developing skills in line with demands of the labour market is one of the four objectives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) Sector Strategy for the period 2018-2022 .

The main challenges in this field to be addressed by the Strategy are: 1) Limited inclusion of unemployed people in employment services and 2) ALMMs, with particular focus on women and young people
Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)  anticipates cooperation between Kosovo and the EU in raising the level of general education and vocational education and training, as means to promote skills development, employability, social inclusion and economic development. 
European Reform Agenda (ERA)  calls for an urgent education reform which would link postsecondary education and training with gaps in the labour market and quality improvement of pre-university education while the immediate and medium-term priorities in this area, improve the quality of higher education and VET. On the other hand, Economic Reform Programme (ERP)  includes actions from the NDS agenda as well as sectorial strategies that require focus in order to remove current or potential obstacles in the field of education and skills, focusing on three reform measures: 1) Harmonisation of skills supply and demand by drafting occupational standards and reviewing curricula; 2) Reform in Pre-University Education by implementing competency-based curricula and introducing the teachers’ career system; 3) Increasing the Quality and Competitiveness in Higher Education by developing mechanisms for quality assurance, ranking, quality-based funding, linking higher education programs to labour market demands and improving career orientation services.

A.2: Overview of Vocational Education and Training

A.2.1 Overview of VET: set-up and regulatory framework

The Law defines VET as activity that “aims to equip students/candidates with knowledge, practical ability, skills and required competencies in specific occupations or wider in the labour market” . The Law sets the following principles for the VET in Kosovo: inclusion; access, transfer and progress; theoretical learning and professional practice;  current and future needs of the economy; supporting career development as integrated part of lifelong learning . Further, activity fields of vocational education and training are defined as follows :

  • development of competencies and training for employment of individuals in accordance with occupation and their career according to the labour market;
  • creation of general and professional culture in accordance with principles of lifelong learning education and economical, scientific and technological developments;
  • recognition of the individuals’ competencies based in occupational standards of the relevant level.

The VET system consists of formal and non-formal provision. According to the Law on Qualifications  “Formal education” refers to approved education programs provided by licensed educational institutions and using curricula approved by the MEST. Such programs are offered by secondary vocational schools (ISCED 3) and specialized post-secondary institutions accredited by the National Qualifications Authority (ISCED 5). As indicated in an NQA publication , non-formal VET provision includes:

 

  • Vocational training (employment or job‐related), provided in both public and private vocational training centres, and in employment);
  • Adult compensatory education courses for those with uncompleted primary or secondary education, based on formal education programmes and offered mainly by schools;
  • Other diverse kinds of adult learning provision in areas such as foreign languages, ICT, handicrafts, arts, music and culture etc. offered by private providers, NGOs etc.

In the Kosovo system, a qualification is defined as an official recognition of achievement that indicates completion of education or training or satisfactory performance in a test or examination. This qualification process leads to the issue of a certificate and provides basis for progression to work or further learning for individuals. Qualifications in VET are categorized based on the type of provision (formal and non-formal). The qualifications based on the formal provision and non-formal provision are further defined based on the content such as educational subjects, an occupational profile, a skill set related to a work role, and are divided into three groups: National Combined Qualifications, National Vocational Qualifications and Qualifications based on international standards. Figure 1. Links between NQF levels and Kosovo’s education and training structure on the one hand, and with occupational requirements on the other.(see in the report in PDF p.8).

The basic structure of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)  consists of eight levels at which qualifications, and modules or other components of qualifications can be placed (Figure 1). They progress from the simplest levels of achievement to the most difficult and complex. Each of the levels of the NQF is defined by a statement of typical outcomes of learning based on the approach adopted by the EQF, providing a cross reference to the levels of the EQF. Kosovo NQF level descriptors are based on the EQF level descriptors, elaborated to show how they apply in the Kosovo context. 
NQF was completed in 2011 and formally linked (“referenced”) to EQF in 2016 .

 As shown in Figure 2, general entrance requirement for ISCED 3 level vocational programs (NQF 4) is completed compulsory education (NQF 2). Upon successful completion of the final exam, students receive vocational diploma19. The latter represents an entrance requirement for tertiary vocational programs (NQF 5) which usually last 1-2 years (60-120 ECTS) and end with tertiary vocational diploma. (see Fig.2 in the report in PDF p.9).

Formal VET provision
It is estimated there are 140 profiles  at ISCED 3 level, categorised in 17 vocational fields, although data for the school year 2017/18 show enrolments in 119 profiles only . The Curriculum Framework for vocational education is currently being developed and will provide classification of profiles by broader fields. However, with help from the ALLED project , the MEST Division for Vocational Education has adapted a methodology  for categorising the profiles by using the ISCED-F coding system which defines 10 broader fields: 1) Education, 2) Arts and Humanities, 3) Social sciences, journalism and information, 4) Business, administration and law, 5) Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics, 6) Information and Communication Technology (ICT), 7) Engineering, manufacturing and construction,  8) Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary, 9) Health and welfare, and 10) Services.
In the field of formal VET provision, NQA has validated 5 tertiary vocational qualifications (ISCED 5) offered by 3 accredited providers . 

Non-Formal VET provision
Qualifications of non‐formal VET for adults may use national standards (National Vocational Qualifications), international standards (Qualifications based on International Standards), the standards required by particular employers (Tailored Qualifications). The non-formal qualifications can range from level 2 to level 7 of the NQF.
NQA has validated and approved 51 qualifications of levels 2-5 offered by 50 accredited providers24. 
The legislative framework for Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Kosovo consists of the following set of laws:

  1. Law No. 04/L-032 on Pre-University Education -Basic Law which sets that the most important responsibilities of the central Government in administering the Education System are: to develop policies, draft, and implement legislation;  to promote a non-discriminatory education system and  protection of vulnerable groups; to manage a system of licensing and certification of all teachers; to set the criteria for the evaluation and assessment of pupils in educational and/or training institutions; to organise and manage external assessment, and so on.  
  2. Law No.03/L-068 on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo. This Law devolves certain responsibilities for managing Education System from central to local level, and is part of a larger decentralization package. Also, the Law regulates special rights of the Serbian community to use curricula and textbooks from the Republic of Serbia.
  3. Law No. 04/L-183 on the Vocational Education and Training -This Law sets out the structures of the institutions which deal with this type of education and training. The VET law envisages a combination of school-based and work-based training.
  4. Law No. 05/L-018 on State Matura Exam -Introduces non-compulsory State Matura exam for general secondary schools and vocational schools graduates who want to continue their university studies. 
  5. Law No. 03/L-060 on National Qualifications -The purpose of the Law was to establish a national qualifications system based on a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and regulated by the National Qualifications Authority (NQA). 
  6. Law No. 04/L-143 on Adult Education and Training in the Republic Of Kosovo -Regulates the governance and financing of the adult education and training in Kosovo. 
  7. Law No. 06/L-046 on Education Inspectorate in the Republic of Kosovo -Determines authority, responsibilities and organisation of the Education Inspectorate in the Republic of Kosovo.
  8. Law No.03/L –212 on Labour - Basic Law regulating the rights and obligations deriving from employment in Kosovo. 
  9. Law No. 04/L-083 for registration and records of the unemployed and jobseekers -Regulates the methods, procedures, conditions for the registration and de-registration of unemployed and jobseekers in Kosovo, as well as intermediation of employment, professional orientation and educational activity aiming to increase the employment. 
  10. Law No. 03/L-019 on vocational training, rehabilitation and employment of people with disabilities -Rules and determines the rights, conditions, forms of vocational training, rehabilitation and employment of people with disabilities, for their integration in open labour market according to general and special conditions laid down by applicable legislation.
  11. Law No. 04/L-205 on the Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo -This law regulates the establishment, organisation, functions, duties, responsibilities and funding of the Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo, including its role in the provision of vocational training. 

Secondary legislations consist of numerous administrative instructions issued by the MEST and MLSW, as well as regulations approved by the relevant agencies: National Qualification Authority (NQA), Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (AVETA) and Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo (EARK).  References to secondary legislation will be provided in the relevant parts of this report. 

 

A.2.2 Institutional and governance arrangements

Government of Kosovo manages VET sector through ministries and agencies operating under ministerial supervision.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is responsible for: overall education policy and legislation, including VET, higher education and life-long learning, research and development and libraries. Although, VET Law  recognises prerogatives of other ministries and government agencies to participate in managing the VET system in Kosovo, MEST, in cooperation with MLSW, is effectively in charge.  Based on recommendations of the EU supported functional review of the MEST , the Government of Kosovo approved a new regulation for internal organisation of MEST , which establishes a separate department for VET with three divisions: Division for School Infrastructure, Curricula and Labour Market Analyses, Division for VET Standards and Quality Assurance, Division for Lifelong Learning. 
According to the Law11, Agency for Vocational Education and Training and for Adults (AVETA) is responsible for administration and leadership of Institutions of Vocational Education Training and for Adults regarding the financial, human sources, construction of buildings and infrastructure of all public VET institutions under its regulatory administration. AVETA currently manages 6 such institutions, whereas the rest operate under the authority of respective municipal education directorates.
Council of Vocational Educational and Training and for Adults (CVETA) is an advisory body to MEST. Among others, CVETA advises the MEST on the general direction for vocational education and training and adults’ education policy in Kosovo and has authority to approve occupational standards . Although, CVETA was established in 2014, the Council is currently not operational, primarily due to the fact that its members are not getting compensated for their service  .
National Qualifications Authority (NQA) is an independent public body, established in accordance with the Law . NQA was established by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), and acts in agreement with the Office of the Prime Minister and other relevant ministries. The NQA Governing Board consists of 13 members, representing ministries, organisations, social partners and universities. NQA responsibility entails oversight of national qualifications along with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Agency for Accreditation and other professional bodies, as well responsibility for professional qualifications.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare mandate is based on functions in the area of the welfare state and the labour market, that are: employment and labour market issues; including vocational training, social protection and social transfers: from pensions to poverty relief; assistance to the disabled. Due to Kosovo’s recent history, the MLSW has a function of providing care for war martyrs’ families and civilian victims. Vocational Training function is performed under the Department of Labour and Employment which has a special division for that purpose . Among others, MLSW is expected to conduct analyses of the labour market needs and support the MEST, in planning to meet the needs for vocational education and training. Also, MLSW, in cooperation with Kosovo Agency of Statistics, is responsible for classification of occupations .
Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo (EARK) is the public provider of services in the labour market, responsible for implementing employment and vocational training policies . The agency provides its services through 38 employment offices at municipal level and 8 regional vocational training centres (VTC).
Municipalities are responsible for operation of public educational institutions, including vocational schools. Their responsibilities include: construction of education facilities, enrolment of students, employment of teaching and management staff, training, supervision, and so on.  Municipalities have education directorates, whereas directors are appointed by mayors. 
 

A.2.3 Basic statistics on VET

There are 68 vocational schools in Kosovo offering ISCED 3 level programs  of which 6 are directly managed by AVETA, whereas 62 others by the respective municipal authorities. Table 1 provides overview of enrolments in VET schools by ISCED-F broad fields of study and sex in the last five years.

Table 1. Enrolments in secondary vocational education by programme and sex

Table 1. Enrolments in secondary vocational education by programme and sex

According to the data provided by MEST, there are 3,154 teachers in VET schools, of whom 1,287 female47 . Table 2 provides an overview of public expenditures in Vocational Education in the last 4 school years. The proportion of salaries in overall expenditures appears to be very high. As a rule, VET related expenditures are not properly registered in the Government accounting system, and therefore are difficult to be tracked.

Table 2. Public expenditures for Vocational Education

Continuous Vocational Education and Training (CVET)

According to the EARK,  participation in vocational training declined in 2017 compared to the previous year – 5,979 job-seekers started training in one of the eight VTCs (of whom 33.9% women), compared to 6,736 in 2016.   The report indicates that 39.6% of trainees where of the age 15-24, whereas 43.2% between 25 and 39 years of age.
The Vocational Training Division at EARK has currently 92 staff members of whom around 60 trainers based in VTCs. The 2017 budget was 1.22 mil. EUR, whereas in 2018 it decreased to 1.02 mil. EUR .
CVET takes place in a number of other private institutions, but participation data are not available.

A.2.4 Vision for VET and major reform undertakings

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (KESP) has a separate chapter on VET. The VET related strategic objective is “Harmonising vocational education and training with labour market requirements in the country and abroad, and creating an open system for adult education”. The strategic focus is on improving the relevance of school programs to labour market needs; the development of a VET specific core curriculum, aligned to the Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF); the systematic provision of high quality work experience and professional practice; and, specific to the Kosovo context, ensuring the sustainability of the Centres of Competence and their further development. In terms of Adult Education, the focus is on establishing an efficient and quality adult education system.    There are 9 expected results deriving from the VET strategic objective, and for each result a number of measures (activities) leading to its achievement are identified.
For each strategic objective an action plan was developed, as well as indicators of success to be used for monitoring the implementation of KESP. The action plan for VET comprises a total of 43 measures (activities) with clear schedule and assigned responsibilities for implementation. The estimated cost for implementation of planned measures is € 6.78 mil. of which € 4.7 mil. should be provided from the Kosovo Budget.  Table 3 provides an overview of indicators and targets for the VET-related strategic objective of KESP.

Table 3. Indicators and targets for the VET strategic objective from KESP 2017-202152

The findings of a monitoring carried out by a Consortium of CSOs   conclude there is a stagnation in the implementation of the KESP during 2017, and this is not related only to the shortage of budget, but also to organisational issues. Regarding progress in the implementation of measures related to VET, the report concludes:
•    “Around 47% of the upper secondary vocational education students attend learning in economic-law and health care sectors, with significantly lower opportunities for employment, whereas the number of students with better prospects for employment continues to remain below the desired level. There are no proper actions by MEST and MEDs to change this situation.
•    Appropriate teaching and learning materials are available for 24 out of 135 profiles of vocational education, while in other profiles there is a kind of "improvisation" with the materials prepared by teachers, materials which have not gone through any verification process. There is stagnation in addressing this problem.
•    Participation of girls in secondary vocational education is not at the desired level, and a high representation of males is noted in all profiles leading to the so-called qualifications "reserved for men".
•    There are suitable teaching and learning materials available for 24 out of 135 profiles of vocational education, while in other profiles, there is a kind of "improvisation" by using materials prepared by teachers, which have not gone through any verification process. There is stagnation in addressing this problem.
•    With few exceptions, career counselling and guidance is not present in vocational schools in Kosovo. However, preparations are being made to provide a level 5 qualification for career counsellors.
•    EMIS has started to collect data on adult education in Kosovo. During the academic year 2016/17, 1,794 adults were included in secondary vocational education, of whom 617 female. Unfortunately, there are no data on the inclusion of adults in various forms of informal education Information from the field reveal serious problems in implementing professional practice and supporting this aspect of student development by schools. With few exceptions, Career counselling and guidance continues to be absent in vocational schools in Kosovo.
•    Despite the progress made in providing programs for adults, adult education remains the most underdeveloped sector in the education system, since the necessary preconditions for its management have not been established yet.”
Two out of ten recommendations of the monitoring study53 call for special mention: 1) MEST should establish a mechanism to coordinate implementation of the KESP 2017-2021, led by the Minister or a Deputy Minister, with participation of senior officials at MEST; 2) Network of vocational schools and the profiles offered should be reviewed in order to avoid creating structural unemployment by enrolling large numbers of students in profiles with limited employment prospects. Also, it is necessary to improve practical training and career counselling in vocational schools. 
Our informants agree that the VET reforms in last few years are not of substantial nature, but rather represent revision of the existing structures.      New VET Core Curriculum was in the centre of discussions in last two years and the first draft has already been circulated, although not all parties were satisfied with its concept and quality, primarily due to the fact that there is one Core Curriculum for all VET fields.     Delays in approving the new core curriculum for VET affect the alignment of VET programs with Labour Market needs.  Another important undertaking is the work on revising VET funding formula, which is supported by wider donor community and coordinated by Lux Development.56 Error! Bookmark not defined. 
On the other hand, establishment of EARK and separation of policy making and executive functions with MLSW is considered to be a major step forward.    EARK effectively operates the eight VTCs offering 30 different profiles. There were positive steps in the process of accreditation of VET providers and programs by the NQA, which contributed to the improvement of the quality assurance procedures within the VET institutions opting for accreditation
 

A.3: The context of VET

A.3.1 Socioeconomic context

Kosovo’s economy remains heavily consumption-led, with remittances and government expenditure accounting for approximately 40 percent of its GDP.  The recent EU progress report appreciates the progress in developing a functioning market economy and improvements in the business environment, but emphasizes that the informal economy remains widespread.  Nevertheless, Kosovo remains one of the poorest countries in Europe and has the lowest level of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in the Western Balkans. Despite recent progress in the Doing Business Ranking, the business environment in Kosovo is weak mainly due to poor governance, an erratic and insufficient supply of electricity, and lack of an adequately trained workforce.63 The perception of a weak “rule of law” impedes initiatives for foreign investments and supports small scale low value added production, instead of more competitive companies.    
Despite some progress, there seem to be no major developments that could significantly affect the structure of the economy and demand for skills. Certain sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and IT seem to be experiencing positive trends (partly due to donor support), however the economy is still dominated by low value added services.54     Some sectors are already facing skills shortages due to their maturing and participation in international competition.    There are no tracer studies in Kosovo that would provide additional information on demand for skills, and also a good mapping of economic priorities at local level is missing.58
The 2017 national elections produced a largely inconclusive mandate for forming a Government, which resulted in a wide coalition of political parties with unclear parliamentary majority to make key decisions supporting economic development. The number of government ministries was increased from 19 to 21, whereas 79 deputy ministers have been appointed to date . Nevertheless, national elections as well as subsequent local elections sent an unambiguous message that the voters want a change in the society. Continuous politicization of public administration to satisfy interests of coalitions at central and local level, as well as insufficient progress in fighting high level corruption, are among major factors impeding social and economic development of the country. 

A.3.2 Migration and refugee flows

Migration to Western Europe, both legal and illegal, is quite widespread in Kosovo and is caused by political and socio-economic circumstances. It is estimated that 122,657 citizens or 6.9% of the resident population migrated from Kosovo in the period 2012-2016 , of them 22,012 in 2016.  In the same period, 48,070 migrants, mostly those who were denied residence, returned to Kosovo.  In 2016, Kosovo is listed among top ten countries whose migrants have benefited from IOM assisted voluntary return and reintegration programs, which include pre-departure assistance as provision of re-integration assistance.  IOM notes that one of the reasons for migration is “the lack of confidence in the future of the country and its economy amongst especially those Albanian Kosovars with higher levels of education”75. Emigration aspirations have returned to levels not seen since before independence, a trend that may itself fuel an even greater demand to leave the country. Anecdotal evidence suggests emigration trends seem to remain significant and, as opposed to earlier periods, recently increasingly young professionals are seeking to leave the country

A.3.3 Education sector context

The general structure of the Education System in Kosovo is outlined in Figure 3 below. Compulsory Education starts at the age of 6 with primary level (grades 1-5, ISCED 1) and continues with lower secondary level (grades 6-9, ISCED 2). Upper secondary education (grades 10-12, ISCED 3) is not compulsory and is divided into two main streams: General Secondary Education (Gymnasia) and Vocational Education. Graduates from either stream need to complete state Matura exam to gain access to the University (Bachelor level, ISCED 6, EQF 6). Graduates from vocational schools may pursue studies in tertiary vocational programs (ISCED 5, EQF 5), in which case state Matura exam is not required. 
In the school year 2017/18, 53% of upper secondary students enrolled in VET schools, whereas 47% in general schools (gymnasia) . On the other hand, 40.7% of students in vocational schools are girls, whereas in gymnasia 58.2%76. Since there are no tracer studies carried out in vocational schools it is virtually impossible to estimate number of VET graduates having used various progression routes available within the Kosovo Education System. However, it is indicative that 24,152 students were expected to graduate from secondary schools in Kosovo (both gymnasia and VET schools) in the school year 2016/17 , whereas 23,524 students enrolled in the first year of Bachelor studies in the academic year 2017/1876, which constitutes 97.4% of secondary school graduates.

Figure 3. General structure of the Education System in Kosovo

In 2016, MEST approved the revised version of the Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF) , which represents a major departure from content-based to competency-based curriculum. The KCF is designed in six curriculum key stages representing periods with common features in terms of children’s development and curriculum requirements. They constitute the main reference points for defining key competencies to be mastered, student progress and achievement requirements, the organization of learning experiences, access and assessment criteria, as well as specifying the institution responsible for their achievement. The structure and organization of the curriculum according to curriculum key stages is shown in Table 4 (see in the report in PDF p.19).
In addition to KCF, which defines competencies and learning fields, core curricula of General Education (ISCED level 1-3) are developed, effectively translating competencies into learning outcomes and setting the stage for development of subject syllabi.  The hierarchy of curriculum documents in relation to learning outcomes is lustrated in Table 5.

Table 5. Hierarchy of learning documents in Kosovo

A.3.4 Lifelong learning context

Lifelong Learning does not appear to be a policy priority in Kosovo, and the reason for that is described in the Kosovo Education Strategic Plan:
“In terms of Adult Learning, there is awareness that ‘Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality is the first objective of ET 2020. However, the almost total lack of structures and expertise in the field of adult learning in Kosovo combined with the pressing need to improve the quality of statutory provision, means that it is not feasible to prioritise developments in LLL in Kosovo in the short and medium term. Nonetheless, there will be some attempts via KESP 2017-2021 to begin to tackle this area.”  
From the policy perspective, LLL is restricted to creating conditions for as many adults as possible to attend formal education programs. In the school year 2017/18 there were 2,270 adult learners (817 women) attending vocational programs in public VET schools , what represents an increase of 27% compared to the previous school year
 

A.3.5 International cooperation context: partnerships and donor support

There are currently four major projects supporting the development of the VET sector in Kosovo in the period 2017-2022 funded by the EU, as well as governments of Germany, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Austria. . Relevant information about projects in provided in the tables below.

Relevant information about projects

Relevant information about projects

Relevant information about projects

Building block B: Economic and labour market environment

B.1: VET, economy, and labour markets

Identification of issues

B.1.1 Labour market situation

Labour market indicators for Kosovo lag considerably behind other countries in the Region and Europe.  According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS), which conducts quarterly labour force surveys, unemployment rate in Kosovo continues to be very high – 29.4% in the second quarter of 2018 , although this represents a slight improvement compared to the 2017 unemployment rate – 30.5% . There are no significant differences in the share of unemployed women and men, but this is primarily due to extremely high inactivity rate among women – 82.6% vs. 36.9% in men. In the second quarter of 2018, 35% of secondary vocational graduates where unemployed, as well as 17.5% of those with tertiary qualifications. The highest unemployment rate of 55% is recorded among youth aged 15-24 which is well above the average of the Western Balkan countries – 37.6% . Another striking feature of Kosovo youth is the exceptionally high share of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) accounting for 30.2% of the young population as opposed to the Regional average of 23.5%.
The estimated number of employed persons decreased from 357,095 in 2017 to 341,610 in Q2 of 2018, whereas, in the same period, the inactivity rate increased from 57.2% to 59.6%. The gender gap is very high – only 12% of working age women are employed compared to 44.8% of working age men.  The highest rate of employment is found among persons belonging to the age groups 35-54 (39%); for women is the age group 25-34 (16.4%) whilst for men the highest rate characterizes age group between 45-54 (66.2%).  Data shows that 34.9% (M: 48%, W: 14.4%) of working age population with secondary vocational qualification are employed, as opposed to 35 % with secondary general education (gymnasia) and 66.4% with tertiary education. Whereas holders of a secondary vocational qualification are the most represented among private sector employees (43%), public sector is dominated by employees with tertiary qualifications (60.2%). The economic sectors that lead to employment are wholesale and retail trade, car and motorcycle repairs (T: 16.8% of employed, W: 18%), Education (T: 11.7%, W: 22.4%), Construction (T:11.6%, W: 1.2%) and manufacturing (T: 9.5%, W: 5.5%).
However, more optimistic estimates are provided in a study sponsored by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) . The research team enumerated 8,533 households, collecting employment information on 32,742 individuals and completing 8,604 extended interviews. Based on Eurostat definition, the working age population was considered to be 15-74 as compared to 15-64 in the KAS methodology.Table 6 provides a comparison of results between the two surveys:

Table 6. Key labour market outcomes from two studies89 92

Also, this study provides a different picture of employment by economic sectors with most jobs offered in Agriculture (T: 21.7%, W: 33.3%), followed by Construction (T:13.9%, W: 0.6%) and other service activities (T:13.7%, W: 14.3%).
According to the authors of this study: “The primary driver of this divergence is likely the higher rates of agricultural and unpaid family workers captured by this study. These individuals seem to have been classified as economically inactive in past estimates, artificially dampening employment rates. It should also be noted that past estimates are substantially more aligned with the colloquial, rather than economic, definition of employment.” 

The divergence of results between the two studies may also be due to high levels of informal employment in Kosovo. The UNDP Human Development Report 2012 estimated that between 30% and 40% of the Kosovo labour market is informal. The Business Informality report  also estimates that 37% of the total employed workforce is not declared since businesses try to avoid taxes and regulations. This is particularly true in the agricultural sector. Often for the labour market entrants (especially women and youth) the informal sector is the only way to find a job in an economy that provides extremely limited numbers of jobs. On the other hand, 68.2% of business owners reported that their employees asked to be paid in cash rather than through bank transfers, in order to avoid income tax and pension contribution and to retain more cash on hand.
As indicated in the Economic Reform Programme (ERP) , the unfavourable situation in the labour market is a result of many related obstacles. On the demand side, low economic development, lack of growing firms and widespread informality result in low job creation in private sector. It is estimated that over 90% of registered companies in Kosovo are micro-enterprises, employing less than 10 people . According to a World Bank report , only 4% of companies that started as micro-enterprises grew within 5 years, thus providing limited job opportunities. The small domestic market and limited integration are important constraints to growth. Dissatisfaction with socio-economic conditions and lack of employment opportunities has also fuelled emigration – mainly illegal migration to the European Union.
On the supply side, non-adequate development of vocational training system, including the integration of learning with work and discrepancy between curricula content and market needs, result in mismatch between the supply of skills and the labour market needs.94 The differences in employment by education levels indicate an existence of a skills mismatch which was confirmed in a 2015 survey among Kosovar business companies. A majority of firms reported lack of the required skills and work experience as the two main problems when hiring. What is more concerning, is the fact that the private sector reports a lack of skills relevant for the labour market even for the occupations which are oversupplied. Skills found lacking by companies spread over a wide range of professions (technicians, professionals, managers, clerical and service workers, agricultural, construction and craft workers) and areas (languages, computers, soft skills).

 

B.1.2 Specific challenges and opportunities: skill mismatch

The links between the Kosovo’s economy and the country’s education system are still weak. The private sector still has difficulties to define its needs, and the schools – both for VET and HE – are not yet in a position to provide the labour market with potential employees who had undergone practice oriented training and whose skills make them immediately attractive for future employers. Many companies report problems hiring new employees, largely because of insufficient experience or skills, and consider this kind of constraint as impediment for their growth.    On the other hand, there is a general distrust of companies towards the VET sector in Kosovo. Well-established and export oriented companies emphasize the need to make significant investment in providing remedial training to their staff.  
Table 7 shows share of students enrolled in VET schools in Kosovo by broad fields of study, as defined in ISCED-F.  Approximately 1/3 of VET students have enrolled in Engineering, manufacturing and construction profiles. As the percentage of students studying Business, Administration and Law has been moderately decreasing in the last 5 years, it still remains quite high – 28.27% in 2018/19, given the fact that Business and administration is important but is only a supporting element of business development.  On the other hand, there is a clear trend of increased interest in health profiles, probably due to job opportunities for health professionals in some EU member states.

Table 7. Share of students enrolled in VET schools by ISCED-F broad fields of study
 

Table 7. Share of students enrolled in VET schools by ISCED-F broad fields of study

We have analysed enrolment data by Regions for the three fields which account for almost 80% of students: Business administration and law; Engineering, manufacturing and construction; as well as Health and welfare. In all three fields considerable discrepancies in enrolment among the seven Kosovo regions are observed (Figure 4). For example, Gjakova Region is characterized by extremely high enrolment of students in Business, administration and law profiles and lowest enrolment in the Engineering, manufacturing and construction profiles. On the other hand, in the Prishtina Region with the most developed health sector, slightly more than 10% of VET students attend health and welfare profiles, whereas in the Prizren Region, more that 25% are enrolled in those profiles. Due to the lack of tracer studies it is difficult to conclude how are these differences reflected in employability of graduates, but the differences among regions cannot be explained by trends in local economy.

Figure 4. Share of students enrolled in three most popular study fields by Kosovo Regions
Figure 4. Share of students enrolled in three most popular study fields by Kosovo Regions

In a survey conducted with 200 companies from the Trade, Manufacturing and Services sector , only 6.2% of respondents reported to be fully satisfied with skills of employees in entry level positions, whereas 41.6% were either not very satisfied or unsatisfied, with considerable gap noted in both technical and soft skills. Depending on the sector, between 55 and 70 per cent of businesses surveyed consider that the skills gap is caused by education institutions failing to produce candidates with relevant skill sets. The businesses surveyed were asked to rate the importance of given skills to their company and then the abundance of those skills in the company and the labour market. For each skill, importance and abundance were rated at the scale 1-10, computing the gap for each skill and average skills gap for each sector. The largest skills gap index (1.41) resulted in the Services sector with Time management, innovation skills, and planning and forecasting listed as the most lacking skills.

B.1.3 Specific challenges and opportunities: migration

There is a general agreement that migration of skilled labour force may cause skills’ shortages and impede the economic development, although benefits of the country from increased remittances and potential investments by Diaspora should not be undermined. Kosovo businesses have already expressed their concern for shortage of skills in the sectors of Construction, Health and Hospitality, which is largely attributed to migration.  Also, there is a strong perception that this trend will continue due to the needs of developed countries for skilled labour force, with those unskilled risked to be left behind

B.1.4 Specific challenges and opportunities: digital transformation

Kosovo is a country with a high rate of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use. According to a report of the Kosovo Association of Information and Communication Technology (STIKK) , it is estimated that 76.6% of Kosovo population are Internet users, mainly for entertainment purposes. This is at the level of developed countries. Various studies have identified ICT as one of the most interesting sectors for investment, whereas overall application of ICT by the industry remains limited, since companies have not captured appropriately its competitive benefits.
The education system has low access to information and communication technology (ICT) and contemporary technology is not integrated appropriately in curriculum, teaching or education system management. The computer-pupil ratio in Kosovo is 1:46 and much lower compared to the EU average where 3-7 pupils use a computer. The integration of ICT in learning and teaching remains an important priority that needs to be addressed in the near future, although ICT is already included in the “Life and Work” field of the new Curriculum Framework.  
 

Description of policies

B.1.5 Strategic policy responses involving education and VET

Better linkage between Education and Labour Market is one of the key strategic measures within the Human Development pillar of the NDS  with the following activities related to VET:

 

  • Expedite the process of professional standards development, in conformity with the European Qualification Framework (EQF) as well as National Qualifications Framework (NQF), as well as the revised National Occupations Classification System.
  • Determining high priority areas in Vocational Education and Training (VET) through consultation with Kosovo’s development policies and priority sectors. Development and implementation of core curricula in modular form, in line with VET priority areas and implementation of VET teacher training programmes for these sectors, based on occupational standards.
  • Implementation of the combined VET pilot system with elements of dual learning (combination of learning in schools and in enterprises) starting with VET priority areas and in compliance with core curriculum. Coordinate the pay subsidization system with priority areas, in order to allow better integration of VET graduates into the labour market.
  • Development and implementation of the National Skills Forecast System. This will be done by ensuring connection with the career orientation systems inside the schools and employment services/lifelong learning services. Create conditions for support services and studies in order to track career progress.
  • Based on the KESP 2017-2021, the Government is working on the following areas: 
  • Review of the profiles provided in VET schools and adjustment to market needs and development of professional standards; 
  • Needs analysis conducted at the local level to meet the conditions for providing profiles from the revised list; 
  • Collection of best practice models of existing teaching materials prepared by teachers of different profiles; 
  • Development of the Core Curriculum for VET; 
  • Development of a Regulation on the Protection of Students’ Health during Internship; 
  • Review of curricula of VET institutions that provide adult education. 

ERP 2018-2020 brings the reform measure #16- ”Harmonization of skills supply and demand by drafting occupational standards and reviewing curricula” which consists of the following activities :

1) Development of occupational standards,

2)Review of VET Curricula ;

3) Training of VET teachers ;

4)  Development of teaching materials to support implementation of the new curricula ;

5) Providing equipment to VET schools with priority profiles ;

6) Reviewing specific funding formula for VET based on cost per sector and profile.

Estimated cost for the period 2018-2020 is € 1.75 mil. with € 75,000 to be supported from the Kosovo budget and the rest from donor funding.

“Provision of quality vocational training services in line with demands of the labour market” is one the specific objectives of the MLSW Sector Strategy 2018-2022 . The main purpose of this specific objective is to make sure that quality training is provided for occupations in demand by the labour market. To achieve this, MLSW plans to work in developing occupational standards, reviewing training curricula, providing equipment for VTCs and further developing capacity of training staff. The total anticipated cost for implementation of activities is slightly above € 0.9 mil.

In general, the level of implementation of strategic documents in Kosovo remains very low. The main reason is continuous failure to effectively include planed strategic measures in annual plans of government ministries and other implementing agencies, and allocate needed budget and human resources. For example, the Roadmap for the NDS has not been approved yet by the Government, whereas budgets from the strategic documents are not reflected in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework neither in annual budgets approved by the Kosovo Assembly.

In order to adjust supply of training and skills to labour market demand, EU-funded ALLED Project designed  a methodology for developing a sector profile . A sector profile provides labour market information which indicates the movements in employment and unemployment by occupation or groups of occupations and also shows the flows of graduates from training institutions into the labour market. Its purpose is to provide an evidence base for the planning of education and for the assessment of relevance of standards and training programmes. ALLED has also published sector profiles in the field of Agriculture, Food Processing and Mechanical Engineering. 

B.1.6 The role of VET in remedies through active labour market policies (ALMPs)

From April 2017, employment services and the active labour market measures (ALMM) for jobseekers are provided by the EARK through its mechanisms at regional/local level: 38 employment offices (EO) and 8 VTCs. EOs register and profile the unemployed and other job seekers, and provide counselling and mediation in regular employment or access to ALMM such as wage subsidies, internships, etc., while VTCs provide vocational training and retraining through modular short-term training. Table 8 provides and overview of ALMM as reported by MLSW  and EARK . Most job-seekers targeted by ALMM have benefited from vocational training (65.2% in 2017, 70.5% in 2016 and 56.5% in 2015), whereas smaller numbers were exposed to on the job training and combined training in companies as shown in Table 8

Table 8. Job seekers having benefited from Active Labour Market Measures
Table 8. Job seekers having benefited from Active Labour Market Measures

 

MLSW Sector Strategy anticipates increased provision of ALMMs with support from donors. The idea is to introduce new ALMMs (e.g. promotion of social entrepreneurship), and improve their performance through regular monitoring and evaluation of their impact on sustainable employment of beneficiaries. For this purpose, MLSW plans to develop a module for monitoring and evaluation within the Employment Management Information System (EMIS). As part of this strategy, improved employment of women will be achieved through more intensive inclusion in the ALMMs. Besides, a separate study will be carried out to analyse the situation and to develop specific ALMMs to address needs of women for employment. 
Reform measure # 19 of the Economic Reform Programme 2018-202094 is designed to increase access of young people and women to the labour market through the provision of quality employment services, active employment measures and entrepreneurship. The planned activities include:

1) Capacity building of EARK on design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of ALMMs;

2) Implementing ALMMs for focus groups  and development and implementation of the self-employment and entrepreneurship programme;

3) Support for voluntary work initiatives, contributing to youth employment;

4) Apprenticeship for newly graduated from higher education;

5) Modernisation of vocational training programs and services, including: re-validation of current profiles, development of 30 new standards, 30 curricula and 30 learning packages; and accreditation of 7 Vocational Training Centres for the recognition of prior learning, capacity building and expanding quality services in vocational training. 

For implementation of activities related to functionalisation and capacity building of EARK, implementation of ALMMs including validation of new profiles, a total of € 10 mils is budget for the period 2018-2022. In addition, € 31,200 are budgeted annually for apprenticeship for newly graduated from higher education under KIESA budget. 
The fact that ALMMs mostly include training is not seen in positive light by all relevant stakeholders, due to its ineffectiveness for employment.   In reality, training through VTCs remains limited,  and is provided at a very basic level, which is not sufficient for the requirements of most firms.   The budget for expanding active labour market measures still remains low – around € 2mil., and is insufficient to address needs effectively. 
 

B.1.7 Identification of skills demand and its bearing on VET provision

Demand for skills in the Kosovo VET system is identified based on research sponsored by MLSW, business associations and donor-funded projects.    However, given ad-hoc character of such research projects, as well as their limited scope, the system needs to improve in order to provide reliable information on the needs for skills. A comprehensive labour market needs assessment sponsored by EU-funded project ALLED developed three indicators for identifying priority skill sectors in Kosovo :

1) impact of skill sectors on the economy ;

2) economic activities which have the highest HR potential in the form of a large share of professionals and technician in their workforces ;

3) sectors which have the highest employment potential.

Three skill sectors ranking among the top 5 by all three indicators are: Business and administration; Engineering and engineering trades; Manufacturing and processing. A survey of 100 companies by the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce  resulted in a list of 15 most demanded occupations by the private sector : Accountant, Market analyst, Sales agent, Welder, Interior Designer, Food Technologist, and so on. Also, there are number of other reports providing information on skills gaps in specific sectors.
Need for responding to demand for skills is underlined in all Kosovo strategic documents addressing improvement of the situation in the VET Sector with respective measures clearly described. However, VET system fails to provide students with the skills demanded in the labour market. Not only curricula do not match the changing need in the labour market, but profiles offered in vocational schools are not based on the need of the local market. 
Proposals for enrolment of students in existing profiles and for opening new profiles come from schools and are supposed to be based on the need of the local labour market which is not always the case. Proposals are endorsed by respective municipalities or AVETA (for 6 schools operating under its authority), and reviewed by MEST VET Division. It is reported that the review if often characterised by formalism resulting in approving new intakes in profiles not demanded by the labour market or offered by schools which do not meet minimum quality standards.  Nevertheless, in the last two years MEST did not approve introduction of new profiles if the respective occupational standards were not in place.
Recognition of non-formal and informal learning is at early stage and is expected to see implementation in 2019. The current focus is on accrediting institutions that will have right to carry out the recognition process.   
Recognition of qualifications and periods of schooling abroad in the Pre-University level is carried out by MEST . If programme is of the same duration as in Kosovo and curriculum matches the Kosovo curriculum at least 70%, then the qualification or period of schooling is recognized, and the applicant is not required to take any additional exam. Otherwise, the applicant may need to take additional exams as determined by a 3-member committee established by MEST. During 2017, MEST issued 1,400 decisions on recognition of Pre-University qualifications or periods of schooling, and none of them was appealed by applicants
 

B.1.8 Supporting migrants and refugees through VET

In September 2010, the Government established the Reintegration Fund to support the sustainable reintegration of repatriated citizens of Kosovo by dedicating the budget by years: € 2 mil. were allocated for 2016, for 2017 - € 2,8 mil.,  whereas for 2018 - € 2.9 mil.    

Since 2012, MIA as the funding agency, in cooperation with MLSW and UNDP, as implementing agencies, have implemented activities in support of training and employment of persons repatriated within the Active Youth Labour Market Programme in Kosovo. In February 2016, these activities were extended to include all repatriated persons, by offering them opportunities for training and employment through the Active Programme of the Youth Labour Market in Kosovo. The reintegration programme provides financial support for business plans of repatriated persons who meet the criteria set in the Regulation GRK No. 04/2016 on Reintegration of Repatriated Persons and on Managing the Reintegration Programme, as well as other forms of ALMM including vocational training, internships, wage subsidy and so on.

MEST approved specific bylaws which serves to facilitate integration of repatriated children in the system of schooling in Kosovo . Improving the access for repatriated persons to early and lifelong learning and vocational training is one of the specific objectives of the Strategy for re-integration. Number of readmitted persons during 2017 was 4,509, whereas 2,608 persons benefited from different schemes of the programme for reintegration of repatriated persons.  
Unfortunately, data on support to re-integration are not disaggregated by type of support, neither any study on the impact of such support was conducted. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that upskilling is not the primary key to successful re-integration of repatriated persons as long as it does not guarantee access to a job.
 

B.2: Entrepreneurial learning and entrepreneurship

Identification of issues

B.2.1 Job creation and VET

According the Labour Force Survey for Q2/2018, share of the self-employed among current employees is quite high – 21.3% ; however 63% of the self-employed (13.4% of total number of employees) have no other employees and are considered to have unstable employment.  Despite efforts to promote self-employment and entrepreneurship, there is no evidence that VET contributes significantly to job creation in Kosovo. This may be due to the missing system for tracking VET graduates, but our informants agree that VET in Kosovo mainly reacts to the demand from labour market, rather than creating a demand. In the given context, job creation precedes education for specific jobs, whereas VET, to some extent, closes the gap between the need for new skills and current skills.

Description of policies

B.2.2 VET policies to promote entrepreneurship

As traditional job-for-life career paths become scarce, entrepreneurship provides an additional way of integrating people into today’s changing labour markets and improving their economic independence. For some people, self-employment provides income, self-reliance and a dynamic path for growth and the development of human capital. In addition, entrepreneurs may be more responsive to new economic opportunities and trends. However, entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and those who wish to enter self-employment face obstacles to starting and running a successful business. Entrepreneurship is not by itself a solution to the problem of unemployment; it should be seen as an important complement within broader employment and investment climate policies. What makes youth entrepreneurship unique, and different from working with adults, is that young people typically have fewer experiences to draw on, less access to capital for starting up and expanding activities, a reduced number of community contacts and networks, and less knowledge of how businesses operate. 
Increase of employment through active labour market measures, with a focus on self-employment  and entrepreneurship is one of the objectives of the current Kosovo Government programme , also reflected in other key strategic documents in form of ALMMs, already discussed in section B1.6 of this Report. VTCs offer an entrepreneurship course for unemployed which lasts about 40 class hours  and is spread out in two weeks, and is based on ILO’s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) Programme   .
Self-employment and entrepreneurship development have been  widely supported by donor-funded projects as well, resulting in training more than 4,000 beneficiaries with some of them having received financial support for their start-ups.    

Youth Employment & Skills (YES), one of the currently running projects, will provide 50 entrepreneurship training grants and 10 grants to support new business start-ups.   However, while the system to produce new companies is well functioning, the mechanisms to support the start-ups at later stage, to increase their chances of survival and facilitate their growth, still remain under-developed.
Also, within the scope of ALMMs, EARK operates a self-employment programme which includes training for entrepreneurship, grants for self-employment and mentoring support for beneficiaries. The 2017 budget of € 380,000 was sufficient to support 35 beneficiaries or 0.04% of registered unemployed, lagging considerably behind all other countries in the Region.
On the Education System side, “development of entrepreneurship and use of technological skills” is defined as one of the aims of education in the Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF).  Consequently, entrepreneurial education is an important part of one of the seven learning areas of the KCF – Life and Work. As stated in the KCF, “in its narrower meaning, Entrepreneurial Education aims at preparing children and young people to undertake an entrepreneurial role in the economy, i.e. to create their businesses. In its broader meaning, it aims to equip children and young people with entrepreneurial skills, such as taking initiative, decision-making, risk-taking, leadership, management and organisational skills”.
Based on the Core Curriculum for Upper Secondary Education  and available grade curricula   , entrepreneurship is taught in gymnasia within the subject Information and Communication Technology. In vocational schools, it is taught as separate subject in some profiles of the Business and administration area, whereas in some other cases it is integrated in the curriculum.
 

‘Open floor’

As indicated in section B1.1, youth unemployment rate in Kosovo continues to be very high – 55%, as well as the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) – 30.2%. This is accompanied by low level of registration of unemployed youth with the Kosovo Public Employment Service and limited benefits from active labour market measures. 

Only 19.4% of the registered job-seekers in Kosovo are young people aged 15-24 as opposed to 23.5% of registered job-seekers in FYROM, 24.5% in Serbia and 35.7% in Montenegro.  On the other hand, only 4.1% of youth registered in employment offices in Kosovo hold tertiary qualifications as opposed to 22.8% in Serbia, 29.6% in FYROM and 40% in Montenegro.137 This may suggest that young people in Kosovo do not have high expectations from the public employment service.

Youth constitute the largest group of beneficiaries from ALMM  - 39.6% of participants in vocational training and 33.9% of beneficiaries from other ALMMs are young people aged 15-24.  However, ALMM in Kosovo have a very limited scope and the share of youth benefiting from ALMM is very low compared to other West Balkans countries: 5.3% of young job-seekers benefit from ALMM other than training as opposed to 33.9% in Serbia and 36.6% in Montenegro. 

At current rates of expansion and forms of ALMMs it is going to take many years for the improvement to be felt. Therefore, the Government must find ways to reach out to inactive and unemployed youth and put them in the active labour market measures in order to improve their chances for employment.
Another complex problem in the Kosovo context is the long-term unemployment. In 2017 the share of unemployed persons since 12 months or more in the total active population reached 71.5% (Table 9), which is still below the level of some countries in the Western Balkans.

Table 9. Long-term unemployment rate in Kosovo

Table 9: Long-Term unemployment rate in Kosovo

The high and persistent share of long-term unemployment is an indication of the structural nature of unemployment in Kosovo. Those affected run the risk of skill loss, reduced motivation to search for employment, and possibly exiting the official labour market altogether.

 

Summary and analytical conclusions

1.  Policy challenges

High unemployment and weak job creation. – Although the unemployment rate in Kosovo decreased from 30.4% in 2017 to 29.4% in the second quarter of 2018, a deeper analysis shows that this was not due to creation of new jobs, but to increased inactivity rate which rose from 57.2% in 2017 to 59.6% in Q2/2018. In the same period, the employment rate (employment to population ratio) decreased from 29.8% to 28.5%.  
Marginalization of the most vulnerable groups in the society. – From the perspective of employment, the gender gap is very high – only 12% of working age women are employed compared to 44.8% of working age men.  On the other hand, 82.6% of the working age women are inactive compared to 36.9% of working age men. Youth unemployment rate in Kosovo continues to be very high – 55%, as well as the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) – 30.2%
Shortage and mismatch of skills. – Many companies report problems hiring new employees, largely because of insufficient experience or skills, and consider this kind of constraint as impediment for their growth. Well-established and export oriented companies emphasize the need to make significant investment in providing remedial training to their staff. Kosovo businesses have already expressed their concern for shortage of skills in the sectors of Construction, Health and Hospitality, which is largely attributed to migration. Also, there is a strong perception that this trend will continue due to the needs of developed countries for skilled labour force, with those unskilled risked to be left behind.

2. Factors contributing to policy challenges

Despite the economic growth of 4% in 2018, the capacity of Kosovo Economy to create jobs remains limited due to the current economic structure, largely based on unsophisticated and lower value added products and services, which is unable to create sufficient number of jobs. Also, more than 90% of businesses in the private sector are micro enterprises with less than 10 employees, characterised by slow growth. 
The main reasons for high inactivity rates among women are family responsibilities, poor provision of child/elderly care service, and also employers’ biases. Limited absorption capacity of the labour market and inadequate skills of young people are major factors contributing to their exclusion from the labour market. 
The links between the Kosovo’s economy and the country’s education system are still weak. The private sector still has difficulties to define its needs, and the schools – both for VET and HE – are not yet in a position to provide the labour market with potential employees who had undergone practice oriented training and whose skills make them immediately attractive for future employers. We have analysed enrolment data by Regions for the three fields which account for almost 80% of students: Business administration and law; Engineering, manufacturing and construction; as well as Health and welfare. In all three fields considerable discrepancies in enrolment among the seven Kosovo regions are observed. Due to the lack of tracer studies it is difficult to conclude how are these differences reflected in employability of graduates, but the differences among regions cannot be explained by trends in local economy.

3. Solutions and progress with implementation

Improving regulatory and business environment is a key to economic growth and job creation, and a durable solution to reducing inactivity and unemployment. Despite recent progress in the Doing Business Ranking, the business environment in Kosovo is weak mainly due to poor governance, an erratic and insufficient supply of electricity, and lack of an adequately trained workforce. The perception of a weak “rule of law” impedes initiatives for foreign investments and supports small scale low value added production, instead of more competitive companies.
Access of young people and women to the labour market can be increased through provision of quality employment services, active labour market measures and support to self-employment. Although improvement of services for vulnerable categories is a strategic priority for the MLSW and EARK, registration of youth with the public employment service in Kosovo is the lowest in the West Balkans Region, indicating that young people do not have high expectations from this kind of support. Youth constitute the largest group of beneficiaries from ALMMs, but the number of beneficiaries from those measures in Kosovo is very low compared to unemployment, so the share of unemployed youth benefiting from ALMMs in Kosovo is the lowest in the Region.  The same applies to those opting for self-employment, in which only 35 registered job-seekers received support through a specific self-employment programme operated by EARK within the ALMMs.
Improved education providing skills demanded by employers leads to higher employment. First of all, demand for skills is not identified in a systemic way, but rather through ad-hoc research projects implemented with donor support. On the other hand, need for responding to demand for skills is underlined in all Kosovo strategic documents addressing improvement of the situation in the VET Sector with respective measures clearly described. However, VET system fails to provide students with the skills demanded in the labour market. Not only curricula do not match the changing need in the labour market, but profiles offered in vocational schools are not based on the need of the local market. 

4. Recommendations

 

  • Improve the business environment

National Development Strategy 2016-2021 has identified the need to improve the rule of law and infrastructure as pre-requisites for economic development of the country. Kosovo faces considerable challenges in the effectiveness of public services and judiciary which discourages foreign direct investment in the country’s economy. Also, significant improvement is needed in ensuring stable supply with energy and providing a cost-effective transport infrastructure. Other measures include improved access to finances for domestic companies and providing incentives to foreign companies willing to invest in Kosovo.  Reducing informality is an important aspect of improving the business environment, since the large scale of informality discourages businesses from investing and hinders economic growth. This can be achieved by improving the labour and tax inspections, and introducing policies encouraging transition to formal market, primarily by pulling off constraints which limit the creation and development of businesses, and removing disincentives to declare work on both the demand and the supply sides.   
    

  • Improve the quality of employment services

The MLSW Sectoral Strategy 2018-2022 anticipates a series of measures to improve the quality of services for unemployed: building capacity of the Public Employment Service by means of staff training and improvement of infrastructure; expanding and diversifying the employment services by offering timely information for job-seekers and career counselling for them; making the recently introduced Labour Market Information System (LMIS) fully operational, and so on. Another steps towards improving the quality of employment services are: improving collaboration with the private sector to assess the market needs for specific skills and match those with the profile of job-seekers; introducing an online job platform to attract more young people to register with Employment Offices; setting gender disaggregated targets to increase the employment of women.  

  • Expand the scope and improve the quality of ALMMs

Active Labour Market Measures should be expanded to reach more job-seekers with particular focus on most vulnerable groups: long-term unemployed, youth and women. Capacities for provision of ALMMs with the highest returns in terms of probability of employment, should be increased and such measures re-designed accordingly. This may require an impact evaluation of ALMMs, but, nevertheless, it is clear that more opportunities for self-employments, internships, on-the-job training and combined training in companies should be provided.  

  • Align VET programmes to the demands of the labour market

As the first step, more attention should be paid to forecasting of skills demanded by the labour market. This requires more intense communication between institutions responsible for Education& Training on one side and the business sector on the other side. Such communication can be facilitated by strengthening existing consultation mechanisms at policy level (e.g. Council for Vocational Education and Training) as well as at institutional level (e.g. “industrial boards” of education&training institutions). The Government should make use of all research reports identifying demand for skills in various trades, and also commission research when need arises. Review of the VET curricula should be carried out in close cooperation and with active participation of the business community. The Government should carefully review the programmes offered by the public VET providers to ensure that profiles and enrolments match the needs of the labour market.

  • Promote entrepreneurship learning in schools

Entrepreneurial education helps young people develop new skills that can be applied to other challenges in life. Non-cognitive skills, such as opportunity recognition, innovation, resilience, teamwork, and leadership will benefit all youth whether or not they intend to become or continue as entrepreneurs. The Education System is responsible for teaching entrepreneurship in the most suitable way, and therefore the inclusion of entrepreneurship-related topics within the ICT course should be re-considered. Entrepreneurship courses should rather have modular structure and can be offered to secondary students within the regular classes or as an extracurricular activity. 
 

Building block C: Social environment and individual demand for VET

Building block C focuses on people – on the young people and adults who could, should or do participate in VET – and the demands and expectations they might have as actual or prospective participants in VET. The questions in this building block discuss problems and solutions in VET from the point of view of individual demand for education and training, structured along the lines of the social rights of individuals to access and participate in education and training, to enjoy equal opportunities to succeed there, and to find fulfilling employment.

C.1: Participation in VET and lifelong learning

Identification of issues

C.1.1 Participation

A major challenge VET is faced with resides in its poor attractiveness: VET is mostly the second best choice, and when someone attends a VET school, he or she usually does so with the prospect to obtain a Matura which provides access to tertiary studies – the actual goal of the vast majority of all Kosovan youth. In the school year 2007/08, 58.4% of secondary students were attending VET schools , whereas one decade later, this share dropped to 52%. Today, IT, Business administration and Health profiles are able to attract more students, whereas a number of other profiles demanded by the labour market struggle for students.     Secondary VET schools operate in all 38 municipalities, but with limited number of profiles, so a considerable number of students choose to enrol in schools located in other municipalities. 
In last few years there is increased demand for EQF level 5 tertiary programs, since EQF level 4 qualification is not always sufficient for employment.  National Qualification Authority accredited 23 such programs, mainly from the field of ICT and finances, offered by nine different providers. 
Programs offered by VTCs are open to registered jobseekers only, and for certain profiles the interest is extremely high. According to data provided by EARK, 1,694 jobseekers were on waiting lists in September 2018: 491 in the Hairdressing profile, 406 in Cooking, 206 in Baking & Pastry,  213 in Tailoring, 180 in Construction and so on. 
Table 10 shows that participation in lifelong learning is still far below the EU average of 10.9% (2017) , and has been stagnant in the last four years. This requires deeper studies on the causes of such stagnation and measure to address them.

Table 10.  . Participation in training/lifelong learning (% aged 25-64)
 

Table 10.  . Participation in training/lifelong learning (% aged 25-64)

 

C.1.2 VET opportunities for vulnerable and marginalised groups

According to the latest Poverty Assessment , about 17.6% of Kosovo citizens live below the absolute poverty line (with less that € 1.82 per day), whereas 5.2% live in extreme poverty (with less than € 1.30 per day). Poverty is particularly high for the following groups: families headed by women (18%), persons with low levels of education (46.1%), people with disabilities (23.5%), pupils/students (26.4%). From the perspective of welfare, they all constitute vulnerable groups. The same applies to Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities who continue to face difficult living conditions   . Also, from the perspective of labour market indicators, women and youth aged 15-24 are considered to be vulnerable and marginalised.
With improved access to upper secondary education, the proportion of youth aged 18–24 with at most lower secondary education, who are not in further education or training, has declined (Table 11) with the tendency of closing the gender gap. Current situation is comparable with EU countries like Hungary (12.5%), Portugal (12.6%) and Bulgaria (12.7%) . However, in the Kosovo context, early leavers from education are at a very high risk of being marginalised in the labour market.

Table 11.  Early leavers from education (% aged 18-24)
Table 11.  Early leavers from education (% aged 18-24)
 

Monitoring of KESP implementation by a Coalition of CSOs  indicates that  participation of girls in secondary vocational education is not at desired level – the gender parity index  in the school year 2016/17 was 0.67, whereas in technical profiles – 0.24.  Participation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians in upper secondary education in the school year 2016/17 was 47% higher than in the previous year , but the data are not disaggregated by the type of school. There are 260 children with special needs in upper secondary education in Kosovo in the school year 2017/18 , and it is estimated that inclusion of this category in the Education System is around 40%. In last few years, MEST worked together with regional resource centres for children with special needs to include them in VET , although their access still remains very limited .  
EARK Performance Report  indicates that 29% of trainees in VTCs are persons with basic education or less, whereas they constitute 51.9% of registered job-seekers. Low level of basic literacy and numeracy skills among that category is often impediment to successful completion of vocational training, and the same applies to job-seekers from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities144. In 2017, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians constituted 5.5% of the total number of job-seekers and 3.5% of trainees in VTCs156.  Women are also underrepresented in vocational training – whereas 45% of  registered jobseekers are women, they constitute only 34% of trainees in VTC programs.156 
Labour market in Kosovo is characterised by the lowest participation rate among the Western Balkan countries, which impacts motivation of persons with disabilities to compete on the open labour market. This coincides with strong prejudices from the part of employers as well as ineffective public policies directed at the employment of persons with disabilities.  There are 470 disabled persons registered as jobseekers in the Kosovo Public Employment System, whereas only 19 of them participated in training programs offered by VTCs in 2017.There is a tendency to integrate them with other trainees, rather than work with them separately. 
 

Description of policies

C.1.3 Policies to improve VET access and participation

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan anticipates the increase by 30% of enrolments in profiles demanded by the labour market, as well as increase by 20% of the enrolment of girls in technical profiles.  This should be achieved through awareness raising campaigns at school level and media, as well as by providing incentives in form of scholarships or paid internships to students of respective profiles. With regard to the latter, there were certain discussions at MEST on the forms of support, but no final decision has been reached.    
However, improving the image of VET by demonstrating its relevance to labour market and improving the employability of graduates seems to be the best way to increase participation in training. It was reported that 44.5% of trainees in VTC are graduates from vocational schools and attend training in the same profile, indicating low quality of skills acquired through regular schooling. MEST is currently piloting « work based learning «  as a way to improve performance of the VET system and attract more students. 
To increase the use of VTCs, MLSW Sectoral Strategy plans to offer new profiles demanded in the labour market.  This is included in the Economic Reform Programme, reform measure # 19 which anticipates development of 30 new standards, 30 curricula and 30 learning packages until 2020 . In terms of provision, it is anticipated that the critical issue will be the hiring of additional training staff in the VTC-s due to limitations imposed by the government on new hiring. To overcome this obstacle, the MLSW Strategy anticipates hiring of trainers on short term service contracts as well as close cooperation with non-statutory providers.
 

C.1.4 Promoting VET access and participation for vulnerable and marginalised

Measures to increase participation of vulnerable groups in the Education and Training are reflected in all relevant strategic documents approved by the Kosovo Government. The first strategic objective of KESP is about increasing participation in Pre-University Education with particular focus on pre-school children ; Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, as well as disabled persons. Also, MLSW Sector Strategy and Strategy for Inclusion of Roma and Ashkali Communities  anticipate a series of measures for improving participation of communities in the labour market, through ALMMs which also include vocational training.
Whereas 218 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians participated in trainings offered by VTCs in 2017 their number in first 10 months of 2018 is only. It is indicated that one of the reasons for low participation is fear of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community members that they may lose their right on social welfare allowance. Also, there are no functioning mechanisms to address the problem of low literacy levels among trainees from these communities. 

 

C.1.5 Flexible VET provision in support of participation in VET

National Qualifications Framework (NQF)  encourages modular structure of qualifications, with modules expressed as learning outcomes together with requirements for the assessment of the achievement of learning outcomes. Such modules may be specific to a single qualification or common to more than one qualification. Modules each have a credit value, proving a basis for the accumulation of credits towards award of a full qualification or the transfer of credits between different qualifications.
All qualifications validated by the NQA are fully modular, as well as qualifications offered within CVET through the Vocational Training Centers. In 2017, 41 qualifications of levels 2-5 were approved and validated, and 14 VET institutions accredited to provide, award and certify vocational qualifications. 
Until recently only the donor‐supported curricula in secondary vocational schools were modular. This applies particularly to the qualifications offered by the Centres of Competence. On the other hand, in most vocational schools, theoretical part is subject based, whereas the professional practice is modular. KESP anticipates modularization of VET curricula, which needs to be preceded by developing the VET core curriculum.
 

C.1.6 Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Recognition of Prior Learning is regulated by MEST Administrative Instruction 31/2014, which determines general principles, responsibilities and procedures to be applied in the implementation of agreements for recognition of prior learning, including formal, non-formal and informal learning, within the scope of NQF.   

NQA developed the document “Policies and Procedures of NQA on Recognition of Prior Learning” which lays out the responsibilities of those involved with RPL, including the National Qualifications  Authority, the providers and the candidates as well as other involved in the process.  It provides guidelines to help providers and other organisations, involved in the process of recognition of prior learning through the award of NQA accredited qualifications, to develop or update their own polices and guidelines for RPL to meet the requirements of the NQA, as specified in this document. 

In 2017, NQA, with the support of the European Training Foundation, conducted the piloting process of RPL procedures. As a result of this activity and the debriefing from this process, NQA updated produced “Policies and Procedures of NQA on Recognition of Prior Learning”. In addition, NQA carried out activities on capacity building for RPL, and developed initial drafts modules for RPL coordinators, mentors and assessors. Two training sessions for coordinators, mentors and assessors of Recognition of Prior Learning were organised. 

Also, the NQA has developed a draft administrative instruction on accreditation of assessment institutions for RPL which is open towards public and private sector, which is expected to be enacted in 2019.

C.2: Equity and equal opportunity in VET

Identification of issues

C.2.1 Success of learners in VET

Graduation data for secondary VET students in Kosovo are not available, neither dropout rate from VET schools. However, it is known that 1.6% of upper secondary students dropped out in school year 2016/17 – 2.2% of boys and 0.8% of girls . 
In the Kosovo context, where almost all upper secondary graduates take the state Matura exam, it makes sense to compare achievement in the exam among students from VET schools and Gymnasia. In June 2017 term, the average passing rate in the Matura exam among VET graduates was between 58.9% and 78.9% depending on the type of exam taken, whereas in graduates from gymnasia it was between  90.2% and 98.6% depending on the type of programme. In June 2018, the average passing rate for the VET students declined to between 43.3% and 67.4% depending on the type of exam, except for the exam in Music where the passing rate was considerably higher – 95.8% . 
Another indicative source for comparing students from VET schools with other categories are the PISA results, a well-known triennial survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in Reading, Mathematics and Science. In 2015, Kosovo participated for the first time in PISA test and was ranked among the bottom three participating countries. Table 12 provides overview of average score in the three PISA subjects by ISCED level and orientation for Kosovo, as well as the OECD average and reference data for three neighbouring countries having participated in PISA 2015: Albania (AL), Montenegro (MN) and FYROM (MK). The gap between 15-year-old students in vocational schools and their peers in general secondary schools is obvious in all three subjects, as well as the similarity of their scores with those achieved by 15-year-old lower secondary students, who as a rule, are one year older than their peers in the same level of education. In fact, this means that 15 year old VET students effectively lag behind their peers from gymnasia the equivalent of 1 to 1.5 years of schooling . Similar pattern can be observed by comparing scores in vocational education and general education stream in Albania, Montenegro and FYROM, whereas the performance gap between students of the two streams in OECD countries is around two years of schooling. 

Table 12. Average score of students in PISA test by ISCED level and orientation

Table 12. Average score of students in PISA test by ISCED level and orientation
 

To a large extent, this confirms that students with higher literacy levels in reading, maths and science rather enrol in general secondary schools then in vocational schools, which is similar to other countries.

 

C.2.2 VET learners in need of additional learning and training support

Modular programs are quite flexible and can adapt to learners’ needs and their learning pace. This applies to programs offered by VTCs were trainers work individually with trainees and assess them when they are ready to be assessed. Similar approach is taken in programs offered by Centres of Competence. However, such individualization is not possible in most vocational schools where there is a clear division between subject-based theoretical part and modular-based practical part of the programme.

Description of policies

C.2.3 Measures in support of equity in VET

Although social inclusion is well-embedded in the Kosovo Government policies, equitable approach in VET has not emerged as priority, and has been usually addressed by donor interventions. Modularisation of qualifications is a way to strike a balance between specific needs of learners and programme requirements, because it allows everyone to master a qualification in accordance to his/her pace. As described in sections 1.3, the NQF encourages modularisation of VET programmes, but the effects are still limited due to the fact that qualifications offered by public VET providers are not yet subject to mandatory external quality control. 
One policy measure to ensure that all VET students succeed are arrangements for manageable class sizes for practical training. Bylaws issued by MEST establishes the proportion of 1 teacher per 17.2 student (1:11 in case of minority communities) in secondary VET schools, as well as the class size of 32-35 students for theoretical part of the programme, and 16-19 students for the practical part. Due to overcrowding of schools and work in shifts it is difficult to organise work in smaller groups and remedial lessons. In fact, remedial programs and individual learning plans are not typical for the Kosovo Education System, and, as a rule, are not applied in schools.
 

C.2.4 Inclusive education and VET

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)  pays special attention to cooperation between Kosovo and EU for achieving inclusiveness and equality in education, with specific reference to, for example, gender, ethnicity, religion, and disability. MEST has paid much attention to the inclusion of children with special needs and, with support from development partners, in particular the Government of Finland, created a better environment for them. Five special schools were transformed to resource centres with the aim of facilitating integration of children with special needs into mainstream schools instead of separating them in special schools. Special attention was also paid to training teachers in inclusive education, and adapting infrastructure to ensure easy access to schools. Nevertheless, it is still estimated that only 40% of children with special needs are included in the Education System, whereas in the school year 2017/18, 425 of them were pursuing upper secondary education in mainstream schools.  Except for some additional care these children do not receive any special support to succeed in education. On the other hand there are 101 children with special needs enrolled in grades 10-12 in resource centres, where the approach is different and more individualised. 

The NQF supports the implementation of a policy and strategy for inclusion of learners with disabilities and other special needs through:

  • Requiring that accreditation as a qualifications provider /assessment institution includes procedures to ensure the continuous improvement of appropriate education and training, relevant qualifications and associated assessment strategies for young people and adults with disabilities and special needs;
  • Evaluating the implementation of strategies for inclusion at school level through self-evaluation and re-accreditation processes;
  • Supporting the development of vocational qualifications at all levels of the framework, enabling access to relevant qualifications, particularly at levels 1 and 2 of the framework, for learners with intellectual disabilities;
  • Implementing modular qualifications which ensure achievement of credits where learners are able to do so. Learners with disabilities and other special needs will be able to choose modules which maximize their strengths and eliminate their difficulties.

This set of measures is explained in a Guidance  which also includes also a tool kit for modifications in teaching, learning and assessment to accommodate learners with disabilities or other special needs.
 

C.3: Active support to employment

Identification of issues

C.3.1 Employability of VET graduates

There is a considerable discrepancy between the number of new entrants in the Labour Market and number of vacancies available. In the period 2015-2017, the average annual number of vacancies registered with Public Employment Service (PES) and requiring VET qualification was 4,132 , whereas each year there were at least 15,000 new graduates from secondary vocational schools and 4,500-5,000 certified from VTC programs. 
In addition, there is an abundance of evidence on employers’ dissatisfaction with the skills of VET graduates. Our informants from the business sector have clearly voiced their concern on resources, time and effort that need to be invested in training graduates for the jobs they were supposed to be trained at school.  Also, the shortage of skills is seen as impediment to growth, as illustrated by the following statement :
« There is shortage of jobs, but if we had a qualified labour force, it would bring economic development. We need to employ 3 people for each position because of shortage of skills and work habits. These expenses do not allow us to expand as we would like to. « (Berat Lahu, HRD Director, Viva Fresh) 
Despite shortage of jobs, chances for employment increase with education level – whereas 35% of secondary vocational graduates are unemployed, this is the case with 17.5% of those with tertiary qualifications.
 

C.3.2 Economic factors with an impact on transition

Kosovo faces low labour demand due to insufficient job creation. Kosovo’s economy is service oriented and more than 90% of businesses in the private sector are micro enterprises with less than 10 employees, and characterised by slow growth. Although access to finance and business environment have considerably improved, current economic structure, largely based on unsophisticated and lower value added products and services, is not able to create a sufficient number of high-skilled jobs.  On the other hand, business environment is still largely impacted by a high level of informality estimated at 1/3 of GDP, as well as by weaknesses in rule of law.

Description of policies

C.3.3 Overview of policies in support of employability and transition to employment

The National Development Strategy (NDS) recognizes that investments in human capital are likely to produce a more skilful labour force, which is a pre-condition for stable economic growth.  Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) anticipates cooperation between Kosovo and the EU in raising the level of general education and vocational education and training, as means to promote skills development, employability, social inclusion and economic development. Also, SAA anticipates cooperation in establishing a social protection system able to support employment and inclusive growth in Kosovo.
Private investment is projected to increase by 1.7% in real terms during 2018 (4.3% in nominal terms), accelerating to an average of 4.6% in 2019 and 2020. Lower cost of credit and improved lending facilities, including through greater opportunities for lending to the private sector, will provide an important impetus to investment. In addition, the increase of the Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund capital is expected to further improve access to finance and enable investment credit expansion. Lastly, a new government scheme to incentivize production through exemptions of customs and excise duties on production input is also projected to drive medium-term investment growth by lowering the cost of production and enabling greater profit reinvestment and business expansion.

 

C.3.4 Career guidance

Career guidance services in Kosovo educational institutions and Public Employment Service (PES) are largely missing.  In general, VET students are given very little support in making their educational, training, and occupational choices and in managing their careers. On the other hand, PES provides mediation for employment to registered jobseekers, but guidance on career options is less present during the process. Consequently, young people in Kosovo make uninformed career choices by pursuing enrolment in education and training programs without regard for their own talents, interests or to future employment opportunities.
Kosovo Education Strategic Plan identifies the lack of career guidance and counselling in schools as one of the major challenges for the development of quality VET system, aligned to labour market needs. Also, KESP anticipates a series of measures to introduce career guidance in schools, and, despite initial difficulties, there are already some positive developments in this field. 
First, career guidance is included in the new curricula for upper secondary education, within the learning field of Life and Work, although it is unusual that the provision is delivered within the subject “Information and Communication Technology”.     
Second, there is increased awareness on the importance of career guidance and counselling  in schools.  During the period 2014-2016, EYE Project supported establishment of two pilot career guidance centres. The first one operates within the vocational school Bahri Haxha in Vushtrri and is frequently referred as an example of good practice.  The other centre operates in Prishtina and serves 7 vocational schools operating within the municipality. The assessment of the two centres concluded that school-based model is more suitable to be replicated in other VET schools, resulting in development of a profile for future career centres in vocational schools.   
Third, with support from LuxDev, GiZ and USAID, MEST has developed an online career portal Busulla.Com which provides rich information on career options and a set of interactive tools for virtual counselling. 
Fourth, career guidance and counselling tends to become a recognized profession in Kosovo. Occupational standard was verified by NQA in May 2017, whereas LuxDev is to support MEST in introducing level 5 programme for career guidance in Prizren and Prishtina
 

Summary and analytical conclusions

1.  Policy challenges

Poor attractiveness of VET. – Vocational Education and Training is mostly the second best choice, and when someone attends a VET school, he or she usually does so with the prospect to obtain a Matura which provides access to tertiary studies – the actual goal of the vast majority of all Kosovan youth. Today, IT, Business administration and Health profiles are able to attract more students, whereas a number of other profiles demanded by the labour market struggle for students.
Limited access of vulnerable and marginalized groups in VET. – With regard to participation in VET, the most vulnerable groups are: women; Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians; as well as disabled persons. Whereas 41% of student population in vocational schools are women, they represent only 34% of trainees in the VTCs. In general, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians are underrepresented in secondary education, whereas in VTCs they constitute 3.5% of trainees as opposed to 5.5% of registered job-seekers. It is estimated that only 40% of the disabled persons are included in the Education System, whereas there are 260 of them in Kosovo secondary schools. Likewise, there are 470 disabled persons registered as jobseekers in the Kosovo Public Employment System, whereas only 19 of them participated in training programs offered by VTCs in 2017. 
Low levels of attainment in Reading, Mathematics and Science (PISA). – Poor results of the 15-year old students in the PISA test have sparkled public debate on the low quality of education in Kosovo, which remains key concern for policy makers. About 77% of 15-year-old Kosovar students do not attain the baseline level of proficiency in reading, lagging the equivalent of 3.5 years of schooling behind the OECD average in this discipline, and the results are similar in Mathematics and Science. On the other hand, 15-year-old students from vocational schools are among the lowest scoring test-takers, effectively lagging behind their peers from gymnasia the equivalent of 1 to 1.5 years of schooling, and performing comparably with 15-year old students attending the final grade of lower secondary education 
Low employability of VET graduates.– There is a considerable discrepancy between the number of new entrants in the Labour Market and number of vacancies available, whereas there is an abundance of evidence on employers’ dissatisfaction with the skills of VET graduates. 

2. Factors contributing to policy challenges

Since no structured links exist between vocational education and local economy, employment prospects are dim for graduates, undermining the whole concept of vocational education. Consequently, most young people see tertiary education as a way to improve their employment prospects, which increases demand for general upper secondary education and creates a perception of vocational education as suitable option for low performers only.
Career guidance services in Kosovo educational institutions and Public Employment Service (PES) are largely missing.  In general, VET students are given very little support in making their educational, training, and occupational choices and in managing their careers. On the other hand, PES provides mediation for employment to registered jobseekers, but guidance on career options is less present during the process. Consequently, young people in Kosovo make uninformed career choices by pursuing enrolment in education and training programs without regard for their own talents, interests or to future employment opportunities.
Underrepresentation of women in VET and labour market is linked to the perception of their traditional role in the society.  Data shows that girls enrolling in vocational schools rather opt for occupations from the field of Arts and Humanities, Business Administration and Law, as well as Health and welfare, whereas they are less represented in the ICT, Engineering and manufacturing, Agricultural and Service profiles.  
Low participation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians in upper secondary education is related to economic factors, namely to the inability of families to cover the costs associated with the education of their children, by giving up on the income they can bring to their families in this period of their lives. On the other hand, low level of basic literacy and numeracy skills is often impediment to successful completion of vocational training for job-seekers from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. 
Exclusion of persons with disabilities from the VET system is related to a generally low awareness of disability issues in the Kosovo society. Many people with disabilities are hidden away within their family homes, whereas access to education and training represents a real challenge due to the inability of the system to meet their specific needs.
Compared to students enrolled in general academic programs, students in grade 10 of vocational schools scored in the PISA 2015 test on average 55 points below in science, 50 points below in math and 63 points below in reading. Research suggests that the socio-economic status at the school level is a strong predictor of the differences in scores for the two groups of students.
In the period 2015-2017, the average annual number of vacancies registered with Public Employment Service (PES) and requiring VET qualification was 4,132, whereas each year there were at least 15,000 new graduates from secondary vocational schools and 4,500-5,000 certified from VTC programs. On the other hand, there are reports of difficulties companies face to fill vacancies for the selected occupations due to a lack of applicants with adequate skills. Our informants from the business sector have clearly voiced their concern on resources, time and effort that need to be invested in training graduates for the jobs they were supposed to be trained at school.

 3. Solutions and progress with implementation

Improving the image of VET by demonstrating its relevance to labour market needs and improving the employability of graduates seems to be the best way to increase participation in training.  This requires significant improvement of the quality of VET provision, which includes modular curricula based on occupational standards, as well as appropriate arrangements for work-based learning and quality assurance. All qualifications validated by the NQA are fully modular, as well as qualifications offered within CVET through the Vocational Training Centres. In 2017, 41 qualifications of levels 2-5 were approved and validated, and 14 VET institutions accredited to provide, award and certify vocational qualifications. To increase the use of VTCs, MLSW Sectoral Strategy plans to offer new profiles demanded in the labour market.  This is included in the Economic Reform Programme, reform measure # 19 which anticipates development of 30 new standards, 30 curricula and 30 learning packages until 2020. In terms of provision, it is anticipated that the critical issue will be the hiring of additional training staff in the VTC-s due to limitations imposed by the government on new hiring. To overcome this obstacle, the MLSW Strategy anticipates hiring of trainers on short term service contracts as well as close cooperation with non-statutory providers.
Career guidance should become a regular part of day-to-day activities in vocational schools and training centres. A career guidance module is being taught in the upper secondary education within the subject Information and Communication Technology, whereas a level 5 qualification for career counsellors is being introduced in Prizren and Prishtina with help from LuxDev. Also, with support from LuxDev, GiZ and USAID, MEST has developed an online career portal Busulla. Com which provides rich information on career options and a set of interactive tools for virtual counselling. Nevertheless, with few exceptions, the career guidance is not provided in vocational schools and training centres in Kosovo. 
On the other hand, special measures should be taken to improve participation of the vulnerable and marginalised groups in VET. In addition to raising awareness on the relevance of qualifications for the labour market, special arrangements are needed to improve participation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, as well as disabled persons in VET programs. In the case of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, provision of scholarships associated with mentoring proved to be a successful model. In the school year 2018/19, a total of 600 scholarships for upper secondary Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian students were provided by MEST with support from donors.  Most beneficiaries attend vocational schools - 497, of whom 247 girls.  Also, 218 of 600 scholarship beneficiaries (99 girls) are enrolled in the mentoring programmes operated non-governmental organisations.185 Qualified mentors help them address their problems with learning, communication with peers or teachers. In the case of disabled persons specific transportation and accommodation arrangements may be needed, as well as impairment-specific adjustments, like: alternative ways of completing team work, additional time to complete coursework, introducing support teachers/trainers for disabled, use of assistive technology, and so on.
Kosovo needs to develop a comprehensive strategy for improving literacy and numeracy skills of young people. Literacy includes the capacity to read, understand and critically appreciate various forms of communication including spoken language, printed text, broadcast media, and digital media. Numeracy encompasses the ability to use mathematical understanding and skills to solve problems and meet the demands of day-to-day living in complex social settings. Despite alarming results in PISA 2015, no action was taken in this direction.

4. Recommendations

  • Improve the image of VET

The KESP 2017-2021 anticipates a series of awareness raising activities targeting students of final years in compulsory education, with the aim to inform them on the potentials of vocational education and training, and the options available. In addition to school-based presentations, such activities may also include well-planned media campaigns. However, the best way to improve the image of VET is to demonstrate its relevance to the labour market needs which requires substantial improvement in the quality of VET provision. 

  • Provide flexible learning paths for VET learners

Modularisation of VET qualifications and arrangements for recognition of prior learning may encourage learners from different categories to pursue careers requiring VET qualifications. Young people facing barriers to learning may benefit from an extended period to complete their studies, the possibility to attend courses broken down on manageable blocks or the possibility to build on skills and competences they already have.  Therefore, modularisation of VET qualifications should be strongly encouraged by the NQA, and arrangements for recognition of prior learning made as soon as possible.

  • Introduce career guidance for VET learners

As specified in KESP 2017-2021, career guidance should be introduced in all vocational schools in Kosovo by appointing and training career guidance counsellors. Also, the MLSW Sector Strategy 2018-2022 anticipates provision of career counselling services through the employment offices and by improving the recently introduced Labour Market Information System. 

  • Increase participation of vulnerable and marginalised groups in the VET

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan anticipates the increase by 20% of the enrolment of girls in the technical profiles. This should be achieved through awareness raising campaigns at school level and media, as well as by providing incentives in form of scholarships or paid internships.
Scholarship programs for upper secondary students for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities should continue, and whenever possible be accompanied by mentoring. Whereas scholarships remove economic barriers for participation in education, mentoring strengthens the commitment of young Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians to complete secondary education, and helps them build self-confidence and improve their school performance. 
Disabled persons should receive special attention by the state in order to encourage them to pursue vocational education and training. Special arrangements should be made in all vocational schools and VTCs to integrate the disabled in education and training. This requires development of a plan with ambitious targets for improvement of inclusion for this category of citizens.  

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for improving literacy and numeracy skills of young people

Improving literacy and numeracy standards is an urgent national priority which has not been addressed in existing strategic documents. This requires thorough situational analysis and long-term measures which may include: setting improvement targets, improve teaching and assessment methods, build capacity of school managers to lead the improvement process, creating a culture of continuous improvement in literacy and numeracy, introduce remedial classes in schools, etc.
 

Building block D: Internal efficiency and operation of the VET system

D.1: Teaching and learning environment

Identification of issues

D.1.1 Teaching and learning methods, including work-based learning

Quality of teaching appears to be a serious problem in most vocational schools in Kosovo. Usually, theoretical part of the curriculum is subject-based, and lessons take place in the classroom, following a regular weekly schedule. Practical training may be modular and either takes place in school workshops or in companies. In general, quality of practical training heavily depends on availability of equipment and consumables in school workshops, as well as on willingness and capacity of businesses to accept students.  Our informants have indicated that the delivery is quite theoretical, and system needs upgrade of pedagogical skills, particularly in practice teaching.    
Vocational School in Shtime offers 9 programs from five different fields: Machinery. Electrical Engineering, Business Administration, Hospitality and Agriculture, and has 684 students.   Teaching in school is mainly theoretical, whereas there are serious difficulties to organise practical training, due to the fact that workshops lack equipment. Also, there are difficulties with placement of students in local companies, due to their limited intake capacity.
However, there are schools were provision is delivered in a modular form, and practical training is quite well organised. One such school is the Centre of Competence in Ferizaj which offers six NQF 4 level programs from the field of health  with 450 students enrolled.  Also, the school offers one NQF 5 level programme which trains teacher assistants for children with special needs in partnership with Pearson, a renowned British company. School has very well equipped workshops, well-trained teachers and instructors, which results in a high quality of teaching and learning.  
Most vocational schools in Kosovo face difficulties similar to the ones of the vocational school in Shtime, struggling to organise practical part of the training. On the other hand, schools like the Centre of Competence in Ferizaj are truly exceptions and should serve as models for reforming vocational education system in Kosovo.
Training provided in VTCs is much more based on practice than it is the case with secondary vocational schools. Teaching is modular, with approximately, 30% of the programme being theoretical, and 70% practice oriented . A study by INDEP confirms that the quality of trainers in terms of knowledge, interactivity, understanding, communication, creativity, and use of equipment, is highly valued by trainees in all seven VTCs surveyed
 

D.1.2 Teaching and learning environment

Despite significant investments by donors, most vocational schools in Kosovo are poorly equipped for practical training. In addition to missing or outdated equipment, almost all vocational schools in Kosovo face the problem of acquiring raw material and consumables needed for workshops. To meet this need, schools have to rely on per-capita allowance of € 27/year which is not sufficient, whereas there are considerable difficulties to generate their own income and use it for this purpose. 
Vocational School in Shtime was opened in 2014 in a new building which has enough space for students and for workshops. However, the only facility for practical work that meets some standards is the new computer lab donated by the Turkish KFOR, whereas equipment for machinery is scarce and almost unusable due to the lack of raw material.  On their own initiative, teachers have planted an orchard to offer some in-school practical experience for students. Being located in a small town with underdeveloped business sector, school has serious limitations to find placement for its students in local businesses.
On the other hand, CoCs have superb facilities, good links with the labour market, and are supposed to serve as a model for vocational schools in Kosovo. CoC in Ferizaj has excellent infrastructure which costed € 5 mil., but, with the end of LuxDev support, it is facing problems in acquiring raw material and consumables. Director says they were not permitted to conclude agreements that would allow businesses to settle in the shops within the school and, in return, offer students possibilities for job placement.  The school has one of the most modern kitchens in Kosovo which is largely underused, due to the lack of consumables and limitations to generate own income.
One of the key issues in improving teaching and learning environment appears to be school management. A GiZ sponsored survey of 14 VET schools pointed out that school managers are often overwhelmed by the maintenance that the buildings and machines require, which has led to a rapid deterioration of the attractiveness of VET providers . The study concludes that school directors are in need of further developing entrepreneurial thinking to orient the school’s activities to the demand of the companies. 
Equipment is not up-to-date in the VTCs either, but there are continuous efforts to improve learning environment. In cases when equipment is missing,  VTCs try to organise the respective part of training in companies where such equipment is available.
 

Description of policies

D.1.3 Policies to improve training/teaching and learning methods in VET

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan 2017-2021  anticipates a series of measures to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools, ranging from introducing new teaching methods in schools to supplying equipment needed for high quality teaching. From the perspective of teaching and learning methods, the focus is on helping VET teachers develop new teaching and learning materials, as well as providing specific training on teaching methodologies.

D.1.4 Improving the training and learning environment

 The major impediment for improving teaching and learning in vocational schools is considered to be limited access to and low quality of practical training. Therefore, the major policy efforts are directed towards improving practical training of students in vocational schools. Strategy for Improvement of Professional Practice in Kosovo 2013-2020 sets the following priorities:

  1. enhancing opportunities for professional practice;
  2. enhancing the quality of professional practice; and
  3. building partnerships of VET schools, businesses and local community.

It is accompanied by two manuals, one for schools and the other for businesses, which define the steps for organising an effective professional practice. The need for improvement of practical training was further emphasized in KESP195 which anticipates few additional measures to this end like « provision of workshops to 15 vocational schools ».
During 2017, a large number of cooperation agreements on VET student internships were signed with various companies, but there is no evidence to what extent they were implemented in practice.  Although, it is the core mandate of Kosovo institutions to take care of providing adequate equipment to vocational schools, the Government has mainly been relying on donor support. However, major donors in the field of VET, like GiZ, LuxDev, EU and SDC, are not expected to focus on equipment. 
For example, LuxDev will invest in developing leadership capacity in VET schools.  The Project introduced a business model concept in CoCs and developed guidelines for the business model office, which will be piloted it 12 VET schools , thus contributing the improvement of cooperation with businesses. Another important contribution is to come from the German Development Bank (KfW) in form of support for partnerships between VET schools and companies
 

D.2: Teachers and trainers

Identification of issues

D.2.1 Composition of the workforce of VET teachers and trainers

Teaching staff in Kosovo vocational secondary schools consists of teachers and instructors.  Whereas a teacher is responsible for both, theoretical and practical part of a certain module or subject, instructor provides assistance with the practical training, although the role of instructors is not sufficiently clarified in the secondary legislation. Also, Education Statistics do not distinguish between teachers and instructors. 
According to the data provided by MEST, there are 3,154 teachers in VET schools, of whom 1,287 female . Table 13 provides information on the  qualification structure of VET teachers by age group. The median age of VET teachers is 49 years, whereas teachers aged 50+ constitute 48.2% of teaching force in VET schools. 

Table 13. Qualification structure of VET teachers by age groups
 

Table 13. Qualification structure of VET teachers by age groups

On the other hand, very little is known about the instructors/trainers in companies, but various studies emphasize the lack of capacities of these instructors/trainers to supervise young employees and  interns

D.2.2 Entering the teaching profession in VET

The most common qualifications held by the Kosovo teachers today are:

 

  • Degree from the Normal School, a specialized secondary school for general teachers. This type of provision was discontinued in 1980s.
  • Degree from the Higher Pedagogical School (HPS), a tertiary institution offering 2-3 year programs for primary and lower secondary teachers. HPSs effectively operated until the end of the academic year 2005/06.
  • Three-year Bachelor degree obtained after 2002 when Kosovo higher education institutions aligned their programs with the requirements of the Bologna System. 
  •  Four-year Bachelor degree (undergraduate diploma) common for the system in place until 2002, and for some teacher training programs today.
  • Master degree obtained from 1-2-year study programs following graduation from a Bachelor-level programme. 

With some exceptions, MEST Administrative Instruction No. 05/2015200 requires newly employed VET teachers to hold Master degree in accordance to the Bologna System or undergraduate diploma from the “old” system. Instructors are required to hold a post-secondary qualification and have at least 5 years of experience in the respective field. Already employed teachers who do not meet new requirements are divided into two categories. The first category consists of teachers who were considered to be qualified at the time of their employment – their employment contracts are automatically extended. Other teachers are required to upgrade their qualifications within a certain timeframe.
Responsibility for teacher recruitment rests with the Municipal Education Directorates, except for 6 schools operating under AVETA. MEST Administrative Instruction No. 17/2009  provides a general procedure for the appointment of new teachers, whereas minimum qualification requirements are set by other bylaws for each level of education and subject area (such as Administrative Instruction No. 05/2015 setting criteria for the recruitment of teachers in VET).In principle, municipalities are free to determine their own specific criteria for the recruitment process. These criteria usually appear to be of quantitative nature including the grade point average during the studies, level of qualification, and years of experience, followed up by an interview. The current reality is that different municipalities determine various standards and assign different weight to different criteria, frequently ignoring the important dimensions of motivation and skills for entering the profession.

 

D.2.3 Employment status of teachers in VET

By Law , teachers employed in public institutions are not civil servants. There is no other special law that regulates the employment status of teachers, so it often depends on approach at municipal level, as well as interpretations of collective agreements in the Education Sector. As a rule, qualified teachers are hired based on permanent or fixed term contracts which may be renewed, whereas unqualified teachers are hired based on one year contracts with positions being advertised few weeks before the contracts expire. In most Kosovo schools, teachers are required to teach 20 classes/week, which is a base for full-time employment
Since 2008, teacher salaries in Kosovo have continuously increased and are among the best in the Region. In September 2018, the base monthly salary for the secondary school teacher was €460, whereas teachers are entitled to extra payments depending on their years of service and pre-service qualifications. With respect to that, the average gross salary of a full-time teacher in September 2018 was slightly above €560. 
There are 60 trainers employed in 8 VTCs. In contrast to teachers they are civil servants and employed by the EARK. Most of them hold university degrees and have technical skills which allow them to run their own businesses. The base salary is slightly above € 400, and they are also entitled to extra payments depending on the years of service.
 

D.2.4 Quality of teachers and trainers in VET

One of the root causes for the low quality of education is considered to be the poor quality of teaching in schools. As a rule, teachers in Kosovo are required to complement their university education by in-service training, but the capacity for provision of in-service is insufficient due to the limited number of training providers and scarce resources. This situation is also reflected in vocational schools where, in addition to theoretical part of the programme, teachers are required to provide practical training to their students. 
In reality, most of VET teachers are qualified, but a considerable number of them have no previous practical experience. Most of them do not have methodological training which inevitably impacts their performance. Another challenge that vocational teachers face is the need to engage in developing learning materials, not just teach using existing ones.198 It was reported that some well-qualified teachers were removed from schools because they had only level 5 qualifications which were not deemed to be sufficient for teaching .
One of the principal mechanisms to develop teaching quality, to motivate teachers to perform better and to address instances of poor performance is a licensing system which entails a mandatory teacher development mechanism and a performance appraisal mechanism for every teacher, as key element. Licensing system was introduced in 2011 with the Law on Pre-University Education No. 04/L-032 , but, until now, it was only partially implemented, by effectively issuing only basic career licenses based on pre-service qualifications of teachers.
In 2010, the MEST introduced a training programme accreditation system, effectively recognizing qualifications gained through in-service training.  Since then, more than 100 in-service programs have been offered by accredited public and private providers, whereas the first edition of the Catalogue of recognized programs was printed in 2011.
The findings of a study sponsored by ETF  indicate that provision of in-service teacher training is not sufficient in volume to meet the requirements set by the licensing process for VET teachers – 100 contact hours in 5 years. Also, the study concludes that the design of in-service training is not tailored to teachers’ current needs, whereas schools are unable to plan the training in such a way that it contributes to their priorities. 
Our informants have reported that VET teachers are usually offered general pedagogical training, which is either organised by MEST or municipalities. Training programs sponsored by donors focus more on vocational content, but access to those programs is limited to schools benefiting from respective donor interventions. One such case is CoC in Ferizaj where director said that teachers were offered high quality training which, in some cases, took place in EU countries.
 

Description of policies

D.2.5 Attracting and retaining teachers and trainers in VET

With support from ALLED Project, MEST developed an occupational standard for vocational teachers which is still pending approval.  The standard foresees level 7 qualification, requiring future VET teachers holding at least bachelor level qualifications in their respective occupational fields, to accumulate 30-120 ECTS from the master level programme. According to the draft-standard, such programme should be fully modular and offered by institutions of higher education duly equipped for that purpose.
In the mean time, the Faculty of Education of the University of Prishtina developed a 120 ECTS master-level programme for vocational teachers.  The programme focuses on general teaching methodologies, usually those classroom-based, career guidance and education policies, but provides no content related to practical work, specific for various profiles. Students come from all kinds of different backgrounds, usually matching one or more VET profiles. Practice teaching is being mentored by Faculty of Education professors who are not necessarily experts in certain profiles, but are close to the respective profiles.
Introducing transparent and merit-based practices in teacher recruitment is one of the MEST priorities to be addressed through the EU-funded project “Improved Capacity Building for Teacher’s Professional Development”. The general idea is to help MEST introduce procedures and criteria to ensure transparent, competitive and criterion-based teacher recruitment at municipal level. To date, there is no evidence on the progress with regard to this undertaking.  
 

D.2.6 Steering, motivating and supporting professional development

NDS 2016-2021  makes a specific reference to teachers’ professional development as a tool for improving the quality of teaching in elementary and secondary education. Also, the Government intends to put in place a performance appraisal system that will be linked to the payroll system, enhancing the accountability in Education.
Teacher development has been one of the key priorities of the education system in Kosovo in the recent years. In this regard, MEST has established a licensing system to be one of the main mechanisms for teaching quality development, and motivation of teachers for better performance. Teacher Professional Development is led by MEST, in coordination with MEDs and other institutions involved in the process. Training providers may include higher education institutions, various institutes such as the Pedagogical Institute of Kosovo, various MEST-accredited NGOs, individual trainers accredited and engaged by MEST, and so on. For licensing purposes, every training provider and programme to be developed pursuant to the needs and priority areas for professional development set out at the national level, needs to undergo an approval process by the State Council for Teacher Licensing (SCTL).  Accredited providers and programs are included in a catalogue of approved professional teacher and educational leadership development programs, which contains information on the content, duration, certification requirements and way to access the programmes. MEST also developed regulation on financing of the teacher professional development which anticipates the possibility to transfer the budget to municipalities based on their demand.  
However, the system works only in cases when providers manage donor-funded projects which make possible the covering of training costs. Otherwise, the access to training programs is almost impossible, since most providers are not-for-profit organisations that do not charge teachers for participation in the training. In such circumstances a vast majority of accredited programs are effectively not being offered by the respective providers, and teachers have difficulties to meet the requirement of accumulating 100 training hours in 5 years, as prescribed by regulations.
MEST Administrative Instruction 5/2015  recognizes 5 levels of teacher licenses: 1. Temporary license; 2. Career Teacher; 3. Advanced Teacher; 4. Mentor Teacher; and 5. Meritorious Teacher. Temporary license if granted to beginner teachers and is valid for 2 years. Following the conclusion of the induction phase, the teacher obtains a career license which is valid for 5 years. Renewal of license and/or advancement through the career ladder requires at least 100 in-service training hours from accredited programs in 5 years, and a positive performance evaluation carried out in accordance with the MEST Administrative Instruction 14/2018 .
Due to the fact that teacher performance evaluation was never carried out, MEST was only able to issue initial career licenses to teachers, based on their pre-service qualifications. For that purpose, a database for teacher licensing was developed and is maintained by the Education Inspectorate through its branch offices in seven regional centres of Kosovo. Although the basic idea of teacher licensing system is to provide financial incentives to good performers, due to delays in implementation, this did not materialize.

 

D.2.7 Ensuring the quality of teachers in VET

Teachers receive no professional support while on the job, and this particularly affects beginner-teachers and those who want to implement innovations in their work. However, performance evaluation which is just being introduced has some potential to impact the improvement of the quality of teaching.
The performance evaluation for career advancement is a combined evaluation, internal and external, which is conducted upon request of the teacher, and is carried out based on the criteria and procedures established, and upon accomplishing 70% of the competences for the next career step as set by this framework. 
Meanwhile, in the induction phase, the school, under the guidance of the director, supervises and mentors the teacher, and compiles an evaluation report for the teacher to move on to a career license.
Performance evaluation is conducted by means of four tools:

 

  1. Teacher self-evaluation – 10% or 14 points
  2. Evaluation by the school director – 30% or 42 points
  3.  The inspection / classroom observation – 30% or 42 points
  4. Planning and implementation of the entire lesson unit – 30% or 42 points. 

The level of teacher performance is categorized as follows:

  1. Excellent performance: performance that exceeds the expectations set by evaluation standards and competences for teachers with 126 points or more;
  2. Good performance: performance that meets the expectations set by standards and competences of performance evaluation for teachers with 105 or more points;
  3. Satisfactory performance: performance that largely meets the expectations set by the standards and competences of performance evaluation for teachers with 85 or more points;
  4. Non-satisfactory performance: performance that does not meet the expectations set by the standards and competences of performance evaluation for teachers with less than 85 points.

 

D.3: Quality and quality assurance

Identification of issues

D.3.1 Quality and relevance of education and training content in VET

Various reports, including this one, consistently indicate that employers in Kosovo are not satisfied with the quality of VET graduates. Also, VET graduates complain about the inadequacy of training in vocational schools and report difficulties in finding job in their profile . This is a fair measure of the quality of VET in Kosovo. 
As described in section C2.1, available data from student assessment point out considerable differences between students in VET schools and general schools, including PISA test score which indicates that 15-year old VET students lag behind their peers from gymnasia the equivalent of 1 to 1.5 years of schooling. On the other hand, employers do not only require occupation specific skills, but also solid literacy, numeracy and computer skills. Unfortunately, poor performance of Kosovo 15-year old students in the PISA test, including the fact that 77% of them failed to attain the baseline level of proficiency in reading, provides solid evidence that the low quality of education is not specific for the VET system. 
NQA is the national authority for assessing qualifications and quality of VET institutions, which is done through validation of qualifications and accreditation of VET institutions (see section D3.3). Most qualifications are offered by public VET providers, and only few of them have been validated to date. On the other hand, no public VET secondary school has been accredited to date. In such circumstances, we need to assume that vast majority of qualifications and vast majority of public VET providers do not meet recognized quality standards. However, according to information from NQA, there is some progress in this field. Namely, four centres of competence and two vocational schools have applied for accreditation and validation of 14 qualifications, and applications from 8 more vocational schools are expected.
 

D.3.2 Defining the quality of learning outcomes

In terms of quality, there is no commonly held concept of what is ‘good’ education. Quality is still understood in terms of quantitative (input) measures rather than in terms of learning outcomes. This narrow view of quality is a major obstacle to change in teaching, learning, and assessment in particular.  
By the VET Law , NQA is the responsible authority for assuring the quality in the field of VET, and this is done by validating qualifications and accrediting VET providers. With technical assistance from development partners, the NQA has produced essential material and operational tools related to the legal framework of qualifications and quality assurance, and introduced procedures for validation of qualifications and accreditation of VET institutions based on external assessment. Also, NQA is responsible for verifying occupational standards developed by the industry prior to their formal approval by the Council for Vocational Education and Training (CVETA). 
The Quality Assurance system in VET is regulated by the following bylaws:

  • MEST Administrative Instruction No. 28/2014 on criteria and procedures for verification of occupation standards ,
  • MEST Administrative Instruction No. 32/2014 on criteria and procedures for quality assurance in the VET institutions – internal processes 
  • MEST Administrative Instruction 35/2014 on criteria and procedures for the validation and approval of national qualifications and accreditation of institutions providing qualifications in Kosovo 

To date, NQA has validated around 50 qualifications, accredited more than 50 providers, and verified 93 occupational standards. The approval of the occupational standards by CVET never took place due to non-functioning of this body. 
 

D.3.3 Quality assurance processes in VET

Quality assurance system in VET consists of internal mechanisms placed within VET providers, and external quality assurance which is the responsibility of NQA.  MEST Administrative Instruction No. 32/2014 prescribes that IVET institutions should have quality assurance offices performing the following tasks:

  1. progress monitoring;
  2. counselling to heads of school departments on quality assurance matters;
  3. coordinate monitoring of teachers;
  4. undertake satisfaction surveys with relevant stakeholders, including students;
  5. coordinate institutional self-assessment for accreditation purposes.

Most vocational schools in Kosovo have quality coordinators, but there is almost no communication and exchange of information between MEST and quality coordinators.
Criteria and procedures for validation and approval of qualifications, as well as for accreditation of the VET providers are set forth in the MEST Administrative Instruction 35/2014. The regulation lays down a complex set of criteria for validation and approval of qualifications, to mention but a few: 

  • Qualification or proposed module for validation must be based on measurable learning outcomes (LO);
  • Professional qualifications must have support within the respective sector;
  • Qualification or module must have a clear content description and its mandatory, elective or optional parts;
  • Qualification should have technical quality should and provide proof of quality assurance mechanisms;
  • The content of the qualification is expressed by measurable learning outcomes. In addition to the criteria, which provide clear learning goals, the professional part of qualification should be described in a modular form.

The procedure consists of 4 major steps which need to be completed in 6 months:

  1. Submission of the full application by the applicant institution with all required accompanying documents.
  2. Evaluation of the application by expert team selected by NQA, and supported by a NQA staff member. Draft evaluation report is forwarded to the applicant for comments.
  3. Final evaluation report along with comments from applicant is forwarded to the Steering Council of NQA for approval.
  4. In case of approval, the qualification/ modules are included in NQF and published.

On the other hand, criteria for accreditation of VET institutions include:

  • Proper institutional structure, which operates through a stable financial basis,
  • Proper policies and procedures for staff development,
  • Functioning systems for recognition and transfer of credits obtained by the candidates,
  • Infrastructure, including buildings and equipment, to meet requirements for specific qualifications.

The accreditation procedure is divided in four phase:

 

  1. Submission of the full application by the applicant institution, including self-assessment report.
  2. Evaluation by the expert team, through desk review and site visit to the applicant institution.
  3. Draft evaluation report is forwarded to applicant for comments. Then, final report is forwarded to Steering Council of NQA for approval.
  4. Decision is published by NQA, and, in case of positive outcome, accreditation certificate is issued to the applicant institution. 

NQA has already gained considerable experience in validating qualifications and accrediting VET providers, and has teams of trained assessors. On the other hand, although by Law, all qualifications should be verified and all VET providers accredited, in reality, qualifications developed by public authorities and  public VET schools are exempted from this requirement. The reason is that a considerable number of qualifications offered by public schools do not meet the validation criteria, and the same applies to schools in relation to accreditation criteria.  NQA is currently reviewing applications for accreditation of 6 public VET schools operated by AVETA with a total of 14 qualifications.
 

Description of policies

D.3.4 Creating and updating VET content

Kosovo Education System does not have a clearly defined process on development of VET curricula. The present curricula were mainly developed with donor support, and reflect different models. According to the NQF, “the occupational standards should be the starting point for development of curricula and assessment for outcomes-based VET qualifications and competence-based VET programmes” . This is largely reflected in the attitude of MEST in last few years, which requires an approved occupational standard for each new qualification to be introduced in the system. On the other hand, there is no clearly defined process for curriculum development. Usually, the VET Department at MEST would appoint a working group to review the curriculum for existing qualifications or work on developing new qualifications. 
In 2016, MEST approved the revised version of the Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF) , which represents a major departure from content-based to competency-based curriculum. In addition to KCF, which defines competencies and learning fields, core curricula of General Education (ISCED level 1-3) are developed, effectively translating competencies into learning outcomes and setting the stage for development of subject curricula. Development of the Core Curriculum for VET is still in process and the first draft has already been reviewed by relevant stakeholders. Several informants shared their concern that a single Core Curriculum cannot reflect all specificities of various economic sectors and create good basis for development of profile curricula. Also, the need to define the process for developing core curricula and profile curricula is emphasized.  
It is still unclear how will MEST proceed with developing the profile curricula. In general education, MEST abandoned the initial idea to delegate the process of subject curricula development to schools. 
 

D.3.5 EU key competences

Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF)229 defines 6 key competencies to be mastered by all students during pre-university education:

1.Communication and expression competency which includes competency for communication in mother tongue and foreign languages, as well as computer literacy.
2.Thinking competency, specifically referring to competencies in mathematics, science and technology as well as to digital competence and critical thinking competence.
3.Learning competency – learning to learn, self-organisation, team work, etc.
4.Life, work, and environment-related competency, referring to entrepreneurship, environmental protection.
5.Personal competency – Empathy, personal awareness, and so on.
6. Civic competency – Inter-cultural competence, management of diversities, public responsibility.

The six competencies include EU key competencies, and, by means of core curricula they are translated to learning outcomes. The implementation of the new curriculum started in the school year 2017/18 in grades 1,6 and 10 of general schools and was expanded to grades 2, 7 and 11 in the school year 2018/19. According to a monitoring report by coalition of CSOs , significant difficulties have been reported by schools in implementation of the new curriculum as a consequence of insufficient preparations and lack of continuous professional support. Also, monitoring of the implementation of the new curriculum is largely missing, so it is not possible to determine to what extent the competencies are being attained. 
As mentioned in D3.4, KCF also applies to VET, but development of the core curriculum for VET and profile curricula is still work in progress. 
 

D.3.6 Policies to strengthen quality assurance

In addition to specific polices for quality assurance in VET described in sections D3.2 and D3.3, KESP has a separate chapter for quality assurance in pre-university education institutions with most measures applying to VET schools as well.  
First category of strategic measures concerns strengthening of mechanisms for internal quality assurance. In VET schools the focus will be in organising and strengthening school departments as organisational units that need to facilitate joint planning, coordination of cross-subject teaching, but also peer-to-peer support (classroom observations).
Important role is given to school development planning. Following the example of CoCs, all schools in Kosovo are required to have 3-year rolling development plans  reflecting their needs and priorities. Also, municipalities are required to have 3-year rolling plans for development of education, whereas municipal authorities are supposed to monitor implementation of school development plans. However, there is no evidence that this kind of monitoring is taking place, whereas, in reality, considerable number of schools and municipalities do not have development plans.
 

‘Open floor’

Although most vocational schools face difficulties in organising practical training for their students, there are good examples as well. One such example is the practice firm approach which has been promoted for more than a decade in schools offering business profiles. Detailed description of the practice firm model is provided in Annex 1.2.

Summary and analytical conclusions

1.  Policy challenges
Low quality of provision in VET schools. – There is a wide consensus that the quality of VET provision in Kosovo is still far from acceptable international standards. Business community reports serious problems in hiring qualified staff, and expresses general distrust towards the VET sector in Kosovo. In addition, businesses complain they need to make significant spending for remedial training of their workers to be able to complete essential tasks.
Quality of teachers and trainers in VET.– Developments in the field of VET require teachers/trainers to possess distinguished professional and pedagogical skills, and ability to create an enabling environment for all learners. This implies a need to strengthen teachers/trainers' role relative to lesson planning, use of modern teaching and learning methodologies, assessment, preparation and use of teaching materials, and so on.
Quality assurance processes in VET. –The primary goal of a proper quality assurance system is to secure a high quality education for all, it must provide an opportunity for detection of possible defects in the education process, and undertake concrete steps for possible improvements. In doing so the trust of citizens in the education system will increase. 

2. Factors contributing to policy challenges
The concept of vocational education and training is built on the combination of theoretical and practical training. Usually, theoretical part of the curriculum is subject-based, and lessons take place in the classroom, whereas practical training takes place partly in schools/training centres and partly in companies. Despite significant investments by donors, most vocational schools in Kosovo are poorly equipped for practical training. In addition to missing or outdated equipment, almost all vocational schools in Kosovo face the problem of acquiring raw material and consumables needed for workshops. On the other hand, opportunities for practical training in companies are more than limited, primarily due to willingness and capacity of businesses to accept trainees.
However, poor quality of practical training is largely due to organisational and methodological factors. School managers are often overwhelmed with day-to-day management issues and fail to act as entrepreneurs who are able to facilitate better links between schools and businesses. On the other hand, there are administrative barriers for schools to establish such links, in cases when cooperation between a school and a business generates profit. Practical work if often characterised by formalism with no appropriate arrangements for supervision of trainees and progress monitoring during their traineship. 
One of the root causes for the low quality of education is considered to be the poor quality of teaching in schools. As a rule, teachers in Kosovo are required to complement their university education by in-service training, but the capacity for provision of in-service is insufficient due to the limited number of training providers and scarce resources. This situation is also reflected in vocational schools where, in addition to theoretical part of the programme, teachers are required to provide practical training to their students. 
One of the principal mechanisms to develop teaching quality, to motivate teachers to perform better and to address instances of poor performance is a licensing system which was introduced in 2011, but, until now, was only partially implemented, by effectively issuing only basic career licenses based on pre-service qualifications of teachers.
In reality, most of VET teachers are qualified, but a considerable number of them have no previous practical experience. Most of them do not have methodological training which inevitably impacts their performance. Another challenge that vocational teachers face is the need to engage in developing learning materials, not just teach using existing ones.  
Vocational Training Centres are in a better situation with respect to the quality of provision. Teaching is modular, with approximately, 30% of the programme being theoretical, and 70% practice oriented. A study by INDEP confirms that the quality of trainers in terms of knowledge, interactivity, understanding, communication, creativity, and use of equipment, is highly valued by trainees in all seven VTCs surveyed. Equipment is not up-to-date in the VTCs either, but there are continuous efforts to improve learning environment. In cases when equipment is missing, VTCs try to organise the respective part of training in companies where such equipment is available.
Various reports, including this one, consistently indicate that employers in Kosovo are not satisfied with the quality of VET graduates. Also, VET graduates complain about the inadequacy of training in vocational schools and report difficulties in finding job in their profile. This is a fair measure of the quality of VET in Kosovo. Responsibility for quality assurance in VET is divided between the NQA and VET institutions. NQA is the responsible authority for external quality assurance, and this is done by verifying occupational standards, validating qualifications and accrediting VET providers. NQA has already gained considerable experience in validating qualifications and accrediting VET providers. On the other hand, although by Law, all qualifications should be verified and all VET providers accredited, in reality, qualifications developed by public authorities and public VET schools are exempted from this requirement. The reason is that a considerable number of qualifications offered by public schools do not meet the validation criteria, and the same applies to schools in relation to accreditation criteria.  Another important aspect of quality assurance in VET are internal mechanisms placed within the VET providers.

3. Solutions and progress with implementation
Practical training in vocational schools is in need of significant improvement. During 2017, a large number of cooperation agreements on VET student internships were signed with various companies, but there is no evidence to what extent they were implemented in practice. Schools need to be more proactive in establishing connections with local businesses which requires a shift in the paradigm of vocational school management. Although, it is the core mandate of Kosovo institutions to take care of providing adequate equipment to vocational schools, the Government has mainly been relying on donor support. However, major donors in the field of VET, like GiZ, LuxDev, EU and SDC, are not expected to focus on equipment. 
VET teachers need to be equipped with both technical and pedagogical skills. Initial training requirements for VET teachers need to be well-defined and appropriate pre-service programmes developed. On the other hand, effective arrangements for in-service teacher training and teacher licensing need to be in place, motivating VET teachers for continuous professional development. Also, support for beginner teachers needs to be provided during the induction phase. With support from ALLED Project, MEST developed an occupational standard for vocational teachers which is still pending approval.  The standard foresees level 7 qualification, requiring future VET teachers holding at least bachelor level qualifications in their respective occupational fields, to accumulate 30-120 ECTS from the master level programme. In the mean time, the Faculty of Education of the University of Prishtina developed a 120 ECTS master-level programme for vocational teachers of a general-purpose character.  Also, there are significant difficulties with provision of in-service training, which largely depends on the donor support, as well as with the teacher licensing system which has not been effectively implemented and linked with the salary scale. 
A basic pre-requisite to implement a full-fledged quality assurance system in VET is to help public VET institutions meet the quality criteria. As the first step, core curriculum for VET needs to be finalised, to proceed with developing qualifications based on occupational standards and modular approach, as required by the legislation. There needs to be a plan in place to introduce new qualifications in vocational schools as they meet the quality criteria required for accreditation. NQA is currently reviewing applications for accreditation of 6 public VET schools operated by AVETA with a total of 17 qualifications.

4. Recommendations
•    Improve the quality of training offered by the VET providers

Quality and relevance of the VET training is measured by employability of the graduates. In order to be employable, graduates are required to perform tasks within their occupation in a professional manner. The major impediment for improving the quality of training is considered to be limited access to and low quality of practical training. Therefore, the major policy efforts are directed towards improving practical training of students in vocational schools. Strategy for Improvement of Professional Practice in Kosovo 2013-2020 sets the following priorities: 1) enhancing opportunities for practical training; 2) enhancing the quality of practical training; and 3) building partnerships of VET schools, businesses and local community. The need for improvement of practical training was further emphasized in KESP which anticipates few additional measures to this end including provision of workshops to vocational schools. 

•    Develop a more entrepreneurial competence of VET school management
Management of vocational schools has its own specifics and requires school managers to be more entrepreneurial in order to ensure quality of provision, and in particular, the quality of practical training. For that purpose, school managers need to establish and maintain close links with local businesses and be prepared to enter into joint ventures will them in the best interest of students.

•    Provide high quality training to VET teachers
Initial training of VET teachers needs to be organised in accordance with the best international practices and based on the approved occupational standard developed by MEST. Initial training must include pedagogical and practical aspects of teaching in VET schools and therefore needs to involve specific academic units with expertise in the respective areas. Whereas only public higher education institutions are authorised to provide initial teacher training, continuous professional development can be offered by a wide range of training providers. MEST has to encourage providers to develop specific in-service programmes for VET teachers, and earmark budget for purchase of training based on the needs of schools. Also, MEST and MLSW have to encourage cooperation of VET providers with industry to help teachers, trainers and instructors update their practical knowledge. If training programs are developed with support from donors, MEST and MLSW should help international partners establish cooperation with domestic training providers, so that the provision continues after phasing out of interventions.

•    Make the teacher licensing system fully operational
A functioning and somewhat competitive teacher career scheme is a basic pre-condition for improved quality of teaching, since it motivates teachers to continuously improve their performance. On the other hand, a well-structured licensing system with an appropriate flow of information provides the authorities with relevant information on the quality of provision in schools. In order to make the teacher licensing system fully operational, the Government needs to undertake the following steps: 1) provide access to in-service teacher training programmes, so that teachers could accumulate the required credits for licensing; 2) build capacity for the teacher performance appraisal based on the current legislation; 3) introduce a new teacher salary scheme linked to promotion through the licensing process. 

•    Develop qualifications based on the labour market needs
MEST needs to finalise the core curriculum for VET schools to proceed with reviewing profile curricula and translate them to qualifications meeting the requirements set by current legislation. Qualifications must be validated by the NQA following the usual assessment process. This process has to go hand in hand with developing new occupational standards, where MEST needs to actively coordinate the process with the representatives of the industry.

•    Help public VET providers meet the criteria for accreditation
Internal quality assurance mechanisms within VET providers need to be strengthened. In addition to quality coordinators, each vocational school has to have departments as organisational units that need to facilitate joint planning, coordination of cross-subject teaching, but also peer-to-peer support (classroom observations). Also, vocational schools need to have school development plans to meet their medium-term needs, including: teacher professional development, improvement of infrastructure, procurement of equipment for practical training, establishing links with businesses and so on. 
 

Building block E: Governance and financing of VET

E.1: Institutional arrangements

Identification of issues

E.1.1 Effectiveness of institutional and governance arrangements

By its very nature, VET is a shared responsibility of two government ministries – MEST and MLSW.  Whereas, vocational education takes place within the Kosovo Education System managed by MEST, vocational training is offered by a number of public and private providers, including companies. 
In terms of administration, Kosovo Education System is highly decentralised with most of responsibilities devolved to municipalities, whereas there are no lines of authority leading from municipal to central level. Except for six VET schools directly managed by AVETA, all other schools are administered by municipal authorities based on the Pre-University Education Law . 
AVETA is the executive agency operating under auspices of MEST, and by VET Law  is entitled to administer all institutions of vocational education and training, as well as adult education institutions, although, transitional provisions of the Law specify that this takeover is to be preceded by an assessment of financial cost. Placing all vocational schools in Kosovo under AVETA administration would be a major departure from decentralised to centralised management of the VET system in the country, and may contribute to rationalising of the school network and improvement of the quality and relevance of vocational education. A functional review sponsored by an EU-funded project concludes that :”the functioning and the capacities of the AVETA are a challenge and the cooperation of the stakeholders still needs further improvement“ .
As indicated in section A2.2 of this Report, Council of Vocational Educational and Training and for Adults’ (CVETA) is not operational primarily due to the fact that its members are not getting compensated for their service. There is some overlapping in the responsibilities of CVETA and Council of AVETA, since, according to the Law both have an advisory role regarding VET policies. Whereas Council of AVETA advises the Agency on VET policies, CVETA’s advice is directed towards MEST. However, due to non-functioning of CVETA, policy development is effectively in the hands of the newly created MEST Department of Vocational Education, which was until recently, a division within the Pre-University Department. 
National Qualification Authority (NQA) continues to act as regulatory body for qualifications and quality assurance agency in the field of VET, and seems to be rather functional and productive in fulfilling its mission. NQA routinely validates occupational standards, approves qualifications, and accredits VET institutions applying for accreditation. However, NQA has no capacity to enforce implementation of legislation which requires all qualifications to be approved and all VET providers to be accredited. 
According to a study on roles and responsibilities of institutions involved in the development of VET curricula, it is unclear how MLSW exercises its “supportive role”, anticipated by legislation,  to MEST in planning to meet the needs of the VET sector. MLSW publishes reports on labour and employment, but there is no evidence that MEST uses those reports in policy making.  Recently, this role has been taken by the Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo (EARK) which implements MLSW policies on employment and vocational training. 
 

E.1.2 Accountability, leadership and control

Figure 5 illustrates hierarchical structure for the management of the VET system in Kosovo. By Pre-University Law, MEST has the primary responsibility for planning of, setting standards in, and quality assurance of the pre-university education system, which also includes secondary vocational education. On the other hand, the VET Law effectively puts MEST in charge of VET, whereas MLSW and other ministries assume supportive role. As already described, CVETA is advisory body to MEST, and the CVETA members are appointed by MEST upon nominations from respective institutions like: MLSW, NQA, AVETA, social partners and so on. AVETA is also directly accountable to MEST. 
According to MEST bylaws , AVETA is led by a 16-member council appointed by MEST. On the other hand, AVETA Director and staff are civil servants employed by MEST. Four competence centres and two vocational schools aspiring to become competence centres are placed under direct authority of AVETA. The Agency has full responsibility for staffing and infrastructure in those six institutions.
By Law, National Qualification Authority (NQA) is an independent agency with lines of responsibility stretching to the Prime-Ministers office, but MEST has important role in ensuring smooth operation of the Authority. For example, MEST invites stakeholders to make nominations in the 13-member Governing Board of NQA, receives progress reports from the NQA and approves the annual budget of the Authority. On the other hand, the Director is appointed by the Government. 

Figure 5. Hierarchical structure for the management of the VET system in Kosovo
Figure 5. Hierarchical structure for the management of the VET system in Kosovo

 

Education Inspectorate is another important body placed within MEST organisational structure. With the recently approved Law , Education Inspectorate operates through seven regional offices, and is responsible for administrative inspection in all levels of Education System, as well as for Pedagogical Inspection in the Pre-University Education System. Education Inspectorate routinely inspects secondary vocational schools and share reports with the MEDs, but there is no evidence of any interaction with the Department of VET, AVETA or NQA. 
Municipal Education Directorates (MEDs) are organisational structures of the local government directly accountable to mayors. There is no line of accountability whatsoever that leads from MEDs to MEST, except for the fact that their decisions may be scrutinized by the Education Inspectorate in accordance to the Law. MEDs are responsible for staffing of the VET schools under their authority, whereas school directors and deputy directors are appointed by mayors of respective municipalities.  Likewise, no lines of authority lead from schools to AVETA or NQA, except for the schools that opt for accreditation, in which case they need to submit applications to NQA, and would be monitored by NQA. Employment of school directors and teachers by local authorities is often tied to the political powers contributing to clientelist relationships within the municipality. On the other hand, many municipalities tend to design the offer of qualifications in schools under their control, having in mind qualifications of the teaching staff already employed rather than labour market needs. In addition to this, most municipalities in Kosovo are unable to provide any professional support to vocational schools since they have no staff dedicated for that purpose.
The MLSW structure is completely separated from the management of the VET system. There is no functioning government body which coordinates activities in the field of VET between MEST and MLSW. Although established by a separate Law , EARK is directly accountable to MLSW, similar to the relationship between AVETA and MEST. VTCs operate under direct authority of EARK and all employees in VTCs are civil servants. Figure 6 shows function and interacting relationship between different stakeholders of the VET system.
 

Figure 6. National Framework for Vocational Education and Training

Figure 6. National Framework for Vocational Education and Training

Description of policies

E.1.3 Governance reforms

Following the functional review of  MEST, in September 2018, the Government approved new regulation for internal organisation of MEST , which upgrades the existing VET Division to Department. The Department for Vocational Education and Training will consist of three divisions, and, inter alia, will be responsible for: 

  • territorial distribution of VET institutions and VET programs and profiles.
  • general standards for infrastructure, human resources, practice and procedures in VET education 
  • developing curricula, standards, textbooks and description of equipment needed for programs,
  • support for the implementation of career guidance and counselling

The Department will have 11 employees which seems to be insufficient for the complexity of tasks. The Functional Review indicates the possibility for the AVETA to be abolished and merged to MEST “as part of the government effort to cut down on the executive agencies with less than 50 employees”, although it does not seem justifiable given the fact that AVETA’s role is defined by Law and AVETA is already operating 6 vocational schools.
 

E.2: Involvement of non-state actors

 

 

Identification of issues

E.2.1 Distribution of responsibilities between state and non-state actors in VET

There are sufficient provisions in Kosovo legislation which encourage participation on non-state actors in developing the VET system. Furthermore, cooperation with the business community is the crux of government strategies for development of vocational education and training. Kosovo Education Strategic Plan promotes cooperation with businesses by seeing them as main partners in organising practical training for the VET students. Also, MLSW Sector Strategy calls for more cooperation between VTCs and businesses to gain access for trainees to expensive machinery which is not available in the centres.

Description of policies

E.2.2 Policies in support of participation of non-state actors

Participation of the non-state actor in the governance of VET and in shaping VET policies remains the weakest point in the system, although various bodies are responsible to establish and maintain links with non-state actors. For example, it is the responsibility of AVETA to engage social partners in VET and Adult Education, but the reality is that it only ensures their participation in the AVETA Board.  Likewise, the non-functioning CVETA should have representatives of non-state actors in its composition and is entitled to establish committees and working groups which may include non-state actors. In addition, businesses should be involved at municipal level through  VET local councils which were never fully operational due to lack of commitment and resources, as well as through membership in VET school councils.

Business representatives were quite vocal in expressing their disappointment with the involvement in shaping VET policies. They re-affirm their commitment to contribute to the development of VET in Kosovo, but do not appreciate informal approach towards participation of non-state actors taken by institutions responsible for governing the Education System. Situation seems to be slightly different in the institutions which fall under the responsibility of the MLSW. The Ministry cooperates closely with businesses in determining the labour market needs, and they are also represented in numerous working groups established by EARK, as well as in regional boards of VTCs.

E.3: VET budget

Identification of issues

E.3.1 Expenditure planning, VET budget formation and execution

Expenditures for VET schools which are part of the Public Education System are planned within the Specific Grant for Pre-University Education, based on Law on Public Financial Management and Accountability and a number of bylaws issued by MEST and Ministry of Finance, the most relevant ones being :

  • MEST Administrative Instruction No. 33/2013 on implementation of a municipal formula for determining allocations of budgets for schools administered by municipalities,
  • MEST Administrative Instruction No. 22/2013 on maximum number of students in the class and student-teacher ratio.
  • MEST Administrative Instruction No. 17/2015 on working hours of personnel in VET schools,

The grant is allocated to municipalities based on the specific formula, and municipalities allocate it to schools. Teacher salaries are paid through the payroll system managed by the Ministry of Public Administration, capital investments managed directly by MEST or municipalities, whereas budget for goods and services is allocated directly to schools on per-student basis. Allocations by municipalities are reflected in the Kosovo budget under sub-programme (budget item)  “Secondary Education”, and therefore it is almost impossible to differentiate the budget for vocational schools. This becomes even more complex given the fact that a number of schools in Kosovo operate as “mixed schools” offering general and vocational programs. MEST budget also has two specific sub-programmes providing funding for VET: AVETA and NQA, whereas budget for the VET Department is under MEST Central Administration sub-programme, and can be flexibly re-allocated to other organisational units.

Most of budget execution takes place at municipal level, with municipalities managing the procurement and payments. This causes a lot of practical problems to schools, particularly when they need to address their emergent needs. The same applies to schools operating under the authority of AVETA.

Budget for EARK is provided as a separate programme within the MLSW Budget, whereas “Vocational Training Services” constitute a sub-programme, which also includes VTC expenses252. The budget is centralised and fully executed by EARK.

 

Description of policies

E.3.2 Policies to improve expenditure planning and budgeting in VET

In general, the actual funding levels of education do not meet the needs of the necessary improvements of education quality in schools.  KESP anticipates the development of new funding formula for Pre-University Education and this task is managed by the Education System Improvement Project (ESIP) funded by the World Bank loan. Given specifics of VET, the work on VET funding formula is running on parallel track, with active participation of major VET donors and under coordination of LuxDev. The process is still at the early stage, but major stakeholders are committed to take into account the best international practices and find a more adequate way for funding VET.  A cost-estimate of the VET profiles may be a possible starting point in the process.

 

E.4: Mobilisation of resources for VET

Identification of issues

E.4.1 Sources and mechanisms of funding for VET

As indicated in the section E3.2 it is almost impossible to differentiate the budget for VET schools which is channelled through municipalities. However, calculations by MEST show that the total public expenditure for VET in the school year 2017/18 amounted € 25.7 mil. (see Table 2, section A2.3). This budget comes from the central government sources, whereas municipalities are allowed to provide additional funding from their own revenues.

VET schools are also allowed to generate revenue through economic activity. MEST Administrative Instruction No. 04/2014 permits VET schools to engage in manufacturing and service activities with the possibility to use revenue for their own needs, including remuneration of staff for additional work.  In practice, such arrangements do not work very well due to constraints imposed by legislation in the field of public finances, taxation and procurement. Despite the fact that all schools in Kosovo have their own codes within municipal accounts, in many cases it proved to be difficult to claim their revenue and use it for remunerating staff and experts. 253 254 Therefore, many schools prefer to trade their products for raw material, which is then used for practical training of students.

Another source of revenue are tuition fees paid by adult learners.  Based on Administrative Instruction No. 11/2011, all adult learners in education and training programs offered by public institutions pay the following fees: Enrolment fee - €100/grade, Practical training fee – €50/grade, Fee for differential exams - €10/exam, Grade final exams fee - €30/grade, Final Exam/Diploma fee - €20. In the school year 2017/18 there were 2,270 students attending adult learning programs in public secondary schools in Kosovo, but there are no reports on the income generated by VET schools from this type of activity.

 

Description of policies

E.4.2 Diversification and mobilisation of funding for VET

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan provides a series of measures to improve financial and management autonomy of VET providers. First of all, revision of regulatory framework is anticipated to simplify the procedures for engaging in revenue generation and managing finances at school level. Another way to mobilise more funding is promotion of a business model in selected VET institutions. This model includes the establishment of a new mechanism consisting of three management pillars: 1) liaison with businesses and provision of career guidance services, 2) promotion of income generating activities, and 3) data processing, monitoring and evaluation. An example of such model was built in the CoC in Ferizaj, but the school is facing huge bureaucratic obstacles in concluding cooperation agreements with local businesses.

E.5: Allocation and use of resources in VET

Identification of issues

E.5.1 Patterns of resource allocation

Continuous increases in teacher wages since 2008, and particularly in 2014, as well as introduction of new fringe benefits have crowded out other spending for Education and increased the share of wages in the overall education budget.  There are no strict rules in the Kosovo Education System on proportional allocation through different economic categories, and the consequence is that the schools usually remain highly underfunded for goods and services. In 2017, staff salaries accounted for 99% of the total Specific Grant for Pre-University Education, whereas the projection for in 2018 is 94.5% and for 2019 – 92.5%. Again it is not possible to differentiate the budget of VET schools, but the proportions should not be significantly different.  However, this means that municipalities have very little funding to cover basic expenses of the schools.

 

Description of policies

E.5.2 Policies to ensure adequacy of resources for VET and equity in their allocation

According to IMF, current spending in Kosovo has increased from17.5% in 2011 to an estimated 20% in 2017, due to continued spending increases on social schemes and a higher wage bill, largely due to a wage hike in 2014. Since there is a clear trend of decreasing number of students in the Kosovo Education System, MTEF 2019-2021 recommends to the municipalities not to open new job positions when teachers retire, but optimize the use of existing teachers by making sure that they have a full workload. Although, the Government expressed its commitment to ensure closer alignment of wages to economic growth, it is not likely that non-wage budget allocations will bring significant improvement in financing of the VET sector

Summary and analytical conclusions

1.  Policy challenges

Decentralised governance of IVET System. – In terms of administration, Kosovo Education System is highly decentralised with most of responsibilities devolved to municipalities. Except for six VET schools directly managed by AVETA, all other schools are administered by municipal authorities based on the Pre-University Education Law

Interaction among VET stakeholders.– By Law, MEST is responsible for administering the VET system in the country, whereas MLSW and other ministries are required to provide necessary support. Management structure of the VET system in Kosovo in quite complex and consists of a number of agencies, authorities and advisory bodies that are either subordinated to MEST or MLSW. Existing consultation mechanisms at central and local level bring together relevant government authorities and non-state actors, including business community and other relevant stakeholders.

VET funding.– Expenditures for VET schools which are part of the Public Education System are planned within the Specific Grant for Pre-University Education and transferred to respective municipalities, except for 6 schools managed by AVETA, in which case the budget is managed from the central level. The same applies to the budget for vocational training managed by EARK.

Income generation.– VET schools are allowed to generate revenue through economic activity by engaging in manufacturing and service activities with the possibility to use revenue for their own needs, including remuneration of staff for additional work. 

 

2. Factors contributing to policy challenges

The VET Law effectively puts MEST in charge of VET, whereas MLSW and other ministries assume supportive role. AVETA is the executive agency operating under auspices of MEST, and by VET Law is entitled to administer all institutions of vocational education and training, as well as adult education institutions, although, transitional provisions of the Law specify that this takeover is to be preceded by an assessment of financial cost. Most vocational schools are directly managed by municipalities, whereas there are no lines of authority leading from municipal to central level. This is one of the root causes of mismatch between supply of VET programs and demands of the Labour Market as municipalities tend to analyse the need at local level with little or no coordination with other municipalities. Except for seven regional centres (Prishtina, Mitrovica, Peja, Prizren, Ferizaj, Gjilan and Gjakova) all other municipalities have at most two vocational schools under local administration. In such circumstances, it is difficult for local authorities to limit the offer of programmes to one or two fields of study, make specific arrangements for staff development and infrastructure, as well as for other quality-related aspects of institutional operation.

Interaction among bodies responsible for management of the VET system is not at the desired level. For example, there is no functioning government body which coordinates activities in the field of VET policy making between MEST and MLSW. Whereas CVETA, NQA, AVETA and Education Inspectorate are directly subordinated to MEST, EARK is accountable to MLSW. On the other hand, municipalities managing 62 out of 68 vocational schools are not directly subordinated to MEST, but require MEST approval for offering programmes and are subject to education inspections.

CVETA is 15-member advisory body to MEST, and the CVETA members are appointed upon nominations from respective institutions like: MLSW, NQA, AVETA, social partners and so on. For the time being CVETA is not operational primarily due to the fact that its members are not getting compensated for their service.

Participation of the non-state actors in the governance of VET and in shaping VET policies remains the weakest point in the system, although various bodies are responsible to establish and maintain links with non-state actors. For example, it is the responsibility of AVETA to engage social partners in VET and Adult Education, but the reality is that it only ensures their participation in the AVETA Board.  Likewise, the non-functioning CVETA should have representatives of non-state actors in its composition and is entitled to establish committees and working groups which may include non-state actors.

In general, the actual funding levels of education do not meet the needs of the necessary improvements of education quality in schools.  Except for staff salaries which are executed from the central level, for each student, VET schools receive an allowance of € 27/year to cover their operational costs which is not sufficient.  Most of budget execution takes place at municipal level, with municipalities managing the procurement and payments. This causes a lot of practical problems to schools, particularly when they need to address their emergent needs. The same applies to schools operating under the authority of AVETA.

In practice, income generation arrangements do not work very well due to constraints imposed by legislation in the field of public finances, taxation and procurement. Despite the fact that all schools in Kosovo have their own codes within municipal accounts, in many cases it proved to be difficult to claim their revenue and use it for remunerating staff and experts. Therefore, many schools prefer to trade their products for raw material, which is then used for practical training of students.

 

3. Solutions and progress with implementation

Given the size of the country, the number of students and staff in IVET, the need to improve the quality of provision and align the programmes with labour market needs, centralised management of the IVET system may be more suitable than the current decentralised management. Such change would require a thorough analysis and re-distribution of roles and responsibilities among MEST and AVETA. In such scenario, AVETA would be in a position similar to EARK and would need to establish some regional capacities to administer the VET institutions.

Since MEST has the lead role in shaping VET policies it is important to keep its major policy advisory body operational. CVETA brings together representatives of all relevant stakeholders and has potential to facilitate efficient communication between them. There are sufficient provisions in Kosovo legislation which encourage participation of non-state actors in developing the VET system. Furthermore, cooperation with the business community is the crux of government strategies for development of vocational education and training.

Clearly, the funding formula for VET needs to be reviewed in which case a real-cost models need to be applied. This means that for every single qualification, a real cost must be calculated and a real per-capita expenditure calculated. Once this is done the Government will have a clear picture of the real cost of the VET system, the existing funding gap, and may proceed by developing strategies to close the gap by gradually increasing the funding and introducing measures for optimising the costs. 

VET schools cooperating with businesses should be able to offer their products and services in the market without facing unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles. Also, they should be able to enter into partnerships with businesses for the purpose of generating revenue which has positive impact on motivation of staff and students. There is growing interest of private sector to partner with VET institutions in doing business, and such partnerships should be strongly encouraged.

 

4. Recommendations

  • Explore the possibility for bringing all IVET institutions under the administration of AVETA

It is recommended that MEST commissions a feasibility study on administering of VET and adult education institutions by AVETA as specified in the transitional provisions of the VET Law. A minimum expectation from that exercise would be to have clear picture of strengths and weaknesses of a centralised management of VET in the Kosovo context, good analysis of legal and financial implications, as well as few realistic scenarios for transition, provided that such transition is deemed feasible. 

  • Improve interaction among VET stakeholders

MEST needs to take all measures to make CVETA operational and provide necessary support to its operations. With contribution from CVETA, MEST will be in good position to exercise its policy making function by appreciating positions of all relevant stakeholders, including non-state actors. Good functioning of CVETA would lead to better interaction among VET stakeholders. Interaction with non-state actors should take place at other levels as well. Business representatives should continue to be involved in developing occupational standards and qualifications, whereas regular consultations should be organised by responsible government actors to facilitate their participation in decision making. Cooperation should also extend at local level through membership of business representatives in advisory and school governing structures. Kosovo Education Strategic Plan promotes cooperation with businesses by seeing them as main partners in organising practical training for the VET students. Also, MLSW Sector Strategy calls for more cooperation between VTCs and businesses to gain access for trainees to expensive machinery which is not available in the centres.

  • Review the funding formula for VET

KESP anticipates the development of new funding formula for Pre-University Education and this task is managed by the Education System Improvement Project (ESIP) funded by the World Bank loan. Given specifics of VET, the work on VET funding formula is running on parallel track, with active participation of major VET donors and under coordination of LuxDev. The process is still at the early stage, but major stakeholders are committed to take into account the best international practices and find a more adequate way for funding VET. 

  • Strengthen the financial autonomy of VET providers

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan provides a series of measures to improve financial and management autonomy of VET providers. First of all, revision of regulatory framework is anticipated to simplify the procedures for engaging in revenue generation and managing finances at school level. Another way to mobilise more funding is promotion of a business model in selected VET institutions. This model includes the establishment of a new mechanism consisting of three management pillars: 1) liaison with businesses and provision of career guidance services, 2) promotion of income generating activities, and 3) data processing, monitoring and evaluation. An example of such model was built in the CoC in Ferizaj.

Summary of main findings and recommendations

Main findings per building block

Building block, A: Country and VET overview

Our informants agree that the VET reforms in last few years are not of substantial nature, but rather represent revision of the existing structures. New VET Core Curriculum was in the centre of discussions in last two years and delays in approving the document affect the alignment of VET programs with Labour Market needs.

Despite some progress, there seem to be no major developments that could significantly affect the structure of the economy and demand for skills. Certain sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and IT seem to be experiencing positive trends (partly due to donor support), however the economy is still dominated by low value added services.

 

Building block B: Economic and labour market environment

Kosovo faces high unemployment and weak job creation. Although the unemployment rate in Kosovo decreased from 30.4% in 2017 to 29.4% in the second quarter of 2018, a deeper analysis shows that this was not due to creation of new jobs, but to increased inactivity rate which rose from 57.2% in 2017 to 59.6% in Q2/2018.

The most vulnerable groups in the society are the most challenged in the labour market. From the perspective of employment, the gender gap is very high – only 12% of working age women are employed compared to 44.8% of working age men.  On the other hand, 82.6% of the working age women are inactive compared to 36.9% of working age men. Youth unemployment rate in Kosovo continues to be very high – 55%, as well as the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) – 30.2%

Shortage and mismatch of skills continue to represent a major impediment to economic growth. Many companies report problems hiring new employees, largely because of insufficient experience or skills. Well-established and export oriented companies emphasize the need to make significant investment in providing remedial training to their staff. Kosovo businesses have already expressed their concern for shortage of skills in the sectors of Construction, Health and Hospitality, which is largely attributed to migration. Also, there is a strong perception that this trend will continue due to the needs of developed countries for skilled labour force, with those unskilled risked to be left behind.

 

Building block C: Social environment and individual demand for VET

Vocational Education and Training is mostly the second best choice, and when someone attends a VET school, he or she usually does so with the prospect to obtain a Matura which provides access to tertiary studies – the actual goal of the vast majority of all Kosovan youth. Today, IT, Business administration and Health profiles are able to attract more students, whereas a number of other profiles demanded by the labour market struggle for students.

Vulnerable and marginalized groups have limited access to VET. With regard to participation in VET, the most vulnerable groups are: women; Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians; as well as disabled persons. Whereas 41% of student population in vocational schools are women, they represent only 34% of trainees in the VTCs.

Low employability of VET graduates. There is a considerable discrepancy between the number of new entrants in the Labour Market and number of vacancies available, whereas there is an abundance of evidence on employers’ dissatisfaction with the skills of VET graduates.

 

Building block D: Internal efficiency and operation of the VET system

There is a wide consensus that the quality of VET provision in Kosovo is still far from acceptable international standards. Business community reports serious problems in hiring qualified staff, and expresses general distrust towards the VET sector in Kosovo. In addition, businesses complain they need to make significant spending for remedial training of their workers to be able to complete essential tasks.

One of the root causes for the low quality of education is considered to be the poor quality of teaching in schools. As a rule, teachers in Kosovo are required to complement their university education by in-service training, but the capacity for provision of in-service is insufficient due to the limited number of training providers and scarce resources. This situation is also reflected in vocational schools where, in addition to theoretical part of the programme, teachers are required to provide practical training to their students.

 

Building block E: Governance and financing of VET

Except for six VET schools directly managed by AVETA, all other schools are administered by municipal authorities based on the Pre-University Education Law. Except for seven regional centres (Prishtina, Mitrovica, Peja, Prizren, Ferizaj, Gjilan and Gjakova) all other municipalities have at most two vocational schools under local administration. In such circumstances, it is difficult for local authorities to limit the offer of programmes to one or two fields of study, make specific arrangements for staff development and infrastructure, as well as for other quality-related aspects of institutional operation.

In general, the actual funding levels of education do not meet the needs of the necessary improvements of education quality in schools.  VET schools receive an allowance of € 27/year to cover their operational costs which is not sufficient.  Most of budget execution takes place at municipal level, with municipalities managing the procurement and payments. This causes a lot of practical problems to schools, particularly when they need to address their emergent needs. The same applies to schools operating under the authority of AVETA.

In practice, income generation arrangements do not work very well due to constraints imposed by legislation in the field of public finances, taxation and procurement. Therefore, many schools prefer to trade their products for raw material, which is then used for practical training of students

Recommendations for action

The reform aiming to align VET provision with the Labour Market needs must re-gain strength in order to improve the employability of VET graduates. Since MEST has the lead role in shaping VET policies it is important is to keep its major policy advisory body (CVETA) operational. CVETA brings together representatives of all relevant stakeholders and has potential to facilitate efficient communication between them. There are sufficient provisions in Kosovo legislation which encourage participation of non-state actors in developing the VET system. Furthermore, cooperation with the business community is the crux of government strategies for development of vocational education and training.

With that in mind, the following recommendations may be considered to address the major challenges of VET and employability of VET graduates in Kosovo.

 

B1. Improve the business environment

Kosovo faces considerable challenges in the effectiveness of public services and judiciary which discourages foreign direct investment in the country’s economy. Also, significant improvement is needed in ensuring stable supply with energy and providing a cost-effective transport infrastructure. Other measures include improved access to finances for domestic companies and providing incentives to foreign companies willing to invest in Kosovo.  Reducing informality is an important aspect of improving the business environment, since the large scale of informality discourages businesses from investing and hinders economic growth.  

 

B2. Improve the quality of employment services and expand the scope of ALMMs

The MLSW Sectoral Strategy 2018-2022 anticipates a series of measures to improve the quality of services for unemployed: building capacity of the Public Employment Service by means of staff training and improvement of infrastructure; expanding and diversifying the employment services by offering timely information for job-seekers and career counselling for them; making the recently introduced Labour Market Information System (LMIS) fully operational, and so on. Active Labour Market Measures should be expanded to reach more job-seekers with particular focus on most vulnerable groups: long-term unemployed, youth and women.

 

B3. Align VET programmes to the demands of the labour market

As the first step, more attention should be paid to forecasting of skills demanded by the labour market. For that purpose, Education&Training System should have a more intense communication with the business sector. Review of the VET curricula should be carried out in close cooperation and with active participation of the business community. The Government should carefully review the programmes offered by the public VET providers to ensure that profiles and enrolments match the needs of the labour market.

 

B4. Promote entrepreneurship learning in schools

Entrepreneurial education helps young people develop new skills that can be applied to other challenges in life. Non-cognitive skills, such as opportunity recognition, innovation, resilience, teamwork, and leadership will benefit all youth whether or not they intend to become or continue as entrepreneurs. The Education System is responsible for teaching entrepreneurship in the most suitable way, and therefore the inclusion of entrepreneurship-related topics within the ICT course should be re-considered.

 

C1. Improve the image of VET

The KESP 2017-2021 anticipates a series of awareness raising activities targeting students of final years in compulsory education, with the aim to inform them on the potentials of vocational education and training, and the options available. However, the best way to improve the image of VET is to demonstrate its relevance to the labour market needs which requires substantial improvement in the quality of VET provision.

 

C2. Provide flexible learning paths for VET learners

Modularisation of VET qualifications and arrangements for recognition of prior learning may encourage learners from different categories to pursue careers requiring VET qualifications. Young people facing barriers to learning may benefit from an extended period to complete their studies, the possibility to attend courses broken down on manageable blocks or the possibility to build on skills and competences they already have. 

 

C3. Introduce career guidance for VET learners

As specified in KESP 2017-2021, career guidance should be introduced in all vocational schools in Kosovo by appointing and training career guidance counsellors. Also, the MLSW Sector Strategy 2018-2022 anticipates provision of career counselling services through the employment offices and by improving the recently introduced Labour Market Information System.

 

C4. Increase participation of vulnerable and marginalised groups in the VET

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan anticipates the increase by 20% of the enrolment of girls in the technical profiles to be achieved through awareness raising campaigns at school level and media, as well as by providing incentives in form of scholarships or paid internships. Scholarship programs for upper secondary students for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities should continue, and whenever possible be accompanied by mentoring. Disabled persons should receive special attention by the state in order to encourage them to pursue vocational education and training.

 

D1. Improve the quality of training offered by the VET providers

The major impediment for improving the quality of training is considered to be limited access to and low quality of practical training. Therefore, the major policy efforts are directed towards improving practical training of students in vocational schools.

 

D2. Provide high quality training to VET teachers

Initial training of VET teachers needs to be organised in accordance with the best international practices and based on the approved occupational standard developed by MEST. Initial training must include pedagogical and practical aspects of teaching in VET schools and therefore needs to involve specific academic units with expertise in the respective areas. MEST has to encourage providers to develop specific in-service programmes for VET teachers, and earmark budget for purchase of training based on the needs of schools. Also, MEST and MLSW have to encourage cooperation of VET providers with industry to help teachers, trainers and instructors update their practical knowledge.

 

D3. Develop qualifications based on the labour market needs

MEST needs to finalise the core curriculum for VET schools to proceed with reviewing profile curricula and translate them to qualifications meeting the requirements set by current legislation. Qualifications must be validated by the NQA following the usual assessment process. This process has to go hand in hand with developing new occupational standards, where MEST needs to actively coordinate the process with the representatives of the industry.

 

D4. Help public VET providers meet the criteria for accreditation

Internal quality assurance mechanisms within VET providers need to be strengthened. In addition to quality coordinators, each vocational school has to have departments as organisational units that need to facilitate joint planning, coordination of cross-subject teaching, but also peer-to-peer support (classroom observations). Also, vocational schools need to have school development plans to meet their medium-term needs, including: teacher professional development, improvement of infrastructure, procurement of equipment for practical training, establishing links with businesses and so on.

 

E1. Explore the possibility for bringing all IVET institutions under the administration of AVETA

It is recommended that MEST commissions a feasibility study on administering of VET and adult education institutions by AVETA as specified in the transitional provisions of the VET Law. A minimum expectation from that exercise would be to have clear picture of strengths and weaknesses of a centralised management of VET in the Kosovo context, good analysis of legal and financial implications, as well as few realistic scenarios for transition, provided that such transition is deemed feasible.

E2. Improve interaction among VET stakeholders

MEST needs to take all measures to make CVETA operational and provide necessary support to its operations. With contribution from CVETA, MEST will be in good position to exercise its policy making function by appreciating positions of all relevant stakeholders, including non-state actors. Good functioning of CVETA would lead to better interaction among VET stakeholders. Interaction with non-state actors should take place at other levels as well. Business representatives should continue to be involved in developing occupational standards and qualifications, whereas regular consultations should be organised by responsible government actors to facilitate their participation in decision making.

 

E3. Review the funding formula for VET

KESP anticipates the development of new funding formula for Pre-University Education and this task is managed by the Education System Improvement Project (ESIP) funded by the World Bank loan. Given specifics of VET, the work on VET funding formula is running on parallel track, with active participation of major VET donors and under coordination of LuxDev. The process is still at the early stage, but major stakeholders are committed to take into account the best international practices and find a more adequate way for funding VET. 

 

E4. Strengthen the financial autonomy of VET providers

Kosovo Education Strategic Plan provides a series of measures to improve financial and management autonomy of VET providers. First of all, revision of regulatory framework is anticipated to simplify the procedures for engaging in revenue generation and managing finances at school level. Another way to mobilise more funding is promotion of a business model in selected VET institutions. This model includes the establishment of a new mechanism consisting of three management pillars: 1) liaison with businesses and provision of career guidance services, 2) promotion of income generating activities, and 3) data processing, monitoring and evaluation. An example of such model was built in the CoC in Ferizaj.

Annexes

Annex 1.1 Quantitative evidence

Table 1.1. Gross value added by broad economic sectors (%)

Table 1.2. Gross Domestic Product

Table 1.3. International migrant stock of mid-year by age-groups and sex

Table 1.4. Number of refugees by country/territory of asylum/residence

Table 1.5. Migrant remittance inflows (US$ mil.)

Table 1.6. Total population

 

Table 1.7. Relative size of youth population (%)

Table 1.8. Educational attainment of active population (% aged 15-64)

Table 1.9. Students in vocational programmes as a percentage of total upper secondary students (ISCED level 3)

Table 1.10. Students enrolled in vocational programmes at upper secondary level of education (ISCED 3)

Table 1.11. Tertiary education attainment (% aged 30-34)

Table 1.12

Table 1.17. Activity rate (% aged 20-64)

Table 1.15. Public expenditure on education

Table 1.16. Participation in training/lifelong learning (% aged 25-64)

 Table 1.20. employment rate

table Employment

table

Table 1.25. Incidence of vulnerable employment (%)

Table 1.30. Long-term unemployment rate (% aged 15-64)

tables

table

 

Table 1.35. Participants in labour market services by sex, age and education

Table 1.35. Participants in labour market services by sex, age and education

Table 1.36. Participants in labour market measures, by sex, age and education

table

table

 

Table

Annex 1.2 Qualitative evidence and examples of good practice Practice firms in Kosovo – A Good Practice Example The story of practice firms in Kosovo started in 2008 with support from the Swiss and Austrian Government for improvement of practical training in business profiles of vocational schools. In order to provide students with job skills, a number of virtual companies were set up in Kosovo vocational schools offering business profiles. A practice firm runs like a real business silhouetting a real firm's business procedures, products and services. It trades with other practice firms worldwide, following commercial business procedures in the virtual economic environment. In Kosovo, each practice firm consists of a number of departments matching the organisational structure in real businesses, like Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, Accounting, and so on. For one year students rotate in different organisational units working on tasks required by the business operations, planning their steps and making independent decisions. Students regularly plan, monitor, evaluate and reflect on their own work results, whereas teachers oversee their work and provide necessary advice. The advice also comes from the mentoring company whose products and services the practice firm silhouettes. Mentor Companies supply information on technical and management issues. Kosovo has its own Service Centre of practice firms which is connected to the EUROPEN Network and has a member status since 2016. Veton Alihajdari (38) is the Service Centre coordinator since 2009. He maintains the practice firms web portal, and helps teachers and students with advise and online operations. Veton also facilitates communication with practice firms from other countries. He faces some difficulties in his work. He sits in an overcrowded office and does not have all necessary means to deal with all requests promptly. Next, he is responsible for 120-130 practice firms all over Kosovo which is beyond capacity of one person. Nevertheless, he enjoys his work and is optimistic about the future of practice firms in Kosovo. The process of setting up a practice firm starts in September when students of the final grade in business profiles get together after summer vacations. They are divided into smaller groups and requested to develop their business ideas based on what they learned in the first two years of their vocational education. They explore the local market needs, contact local businesses for silhouetting and assess benefits and risks of their enterprise. Following presentation of business plans, the whole class decides about the most feasible business idea and the practice firm is established. Upon registration in the Service Centre, each practice firm is provided with the virtual initial capital of € 100,000. A practice firm researches the market, advertises, buys raw materials, transports, stocks, plans, manufactures simulated goods, sells simulated products or services, and pays wages, taxes, benefits, etc. Although there is no actual transfer of goods or money, other transactions take place: orders are made, invoices issued and financial records maintained - including creditors, debtors, stock holdings and so on. Trading with thousands of other firms according to strict commercial principles within the EUROPEN Network is an essential component of the concept. Some practice firms operate continuously for more than a decade, like FU Bauhaus from the Economic School in Prizren facilitated by Mexhide Çollaku, an enthusiastic school teacher of business administration and finances. Mexhide is also one of the most active practice firm trainers. In order to enter the Practice Firm program each school is required to have at least one teacher certified for the practice firms. Veton says that all schools in Kosovo offering business programs have at least 3 certified teachers, except for one which recently started offering such programs. Veton, Mexhide and other trainers are the most meritorious for that. A practice firm operates in a space which is suitable for a large office and can be divided into several sections where 5-7 teams of students run the business. Each team must have at least one computer TORINO PROCESS 2018–2020 KOSOVO | 100 with Internet access and some shelves for documentation. The firm also needs some basic office consumables. Several practice firms from the same school may share the premises as students spend only 6 hours a week working in their practice firms. Donor support for practice firms ended in 2013. Veton admits there are difficulties with provision of equipment and consumables, and even with Internet access, but they always manage to overcome such problems. For 2019, MEST earmarked € 1 mil. for practical training in vocational schools and Veton hopes very much that practice firms will get a slice of it. There is wealth of evidence that the practice firm model helped bridge, the skills’ gap which is due to disproportion between theory and practice. By running virtual firms in cooperation with real ones students learn to perform day-to-day business operations, but also to solve problems that typically occur in various situations. The curriculum is well grounded in the national context, and students work by using procedures and best practices applicable in the Kosovo Business Community. Veton speaks proudly about graduates who are running successful businesses based on their experience from practice firms. He would like to see practice firms in adult learning and higher education institutions, and also Special Practice Firms for people with special needs.

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