Reforming vocational education

Project description

Title: Reform of vocational education and training / Programme: Sustainable growth and employment in Serbia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia
Overall term: 2013 to 2019

Serbia. Training to be a welder. © GIZ


Political upheaval and the global economic crisis have led to high unemployment in Serbia. In the second quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15 to 24 was more than 40 per cent, with a more than 70 per cent rate of inactivity. Despite this situation, many technical positions remain unfilled because employers cannot find qualified staff.

The three-year technical vocation training programmes currently on offer are theoretical and do not meet industry needs. Training in technical skills is not systematic or efficient enough. While companies criticise the insufficient practical knowledge of school leavers, they offer very few training opportunities themselves. In addition, negative social perceptions also have an adverse effect on demand for vocational education, particularly on the three-year technical vocational training programmes.

Training needs to be reformed to reflect actual requirements and involve all the stakeholders in the training process, especially companies, which require assistance in building their own training capacities.

While in principle vocational education is open to all school leavers, access is particularly difficult for young people from disadvantaged population groups. Additional support measures are required to ensure the inclusion of these people.


The provision of inclusive demand-oriented cooperative training in technical professions as part of the formal Serbian VET system has improved.

Serbia. Training to be an industrial mechanic. © GIZ


The project is focused on introducing a cooperative training model that draws on elements of dual education. The model will be tested during the implementation of selected modernised three-year technical courses with employment potential. This is meant to improve the vocational skills and employment prospects of school leavers, thereby giving employers direct access to qualified staff.

The content of the selected technical vocational courses was updated in order to improve the quality and increase the proportion of practical training in companies. To implement the modernised teaching and learning content, training is being provided for teachers, school headmasters and company mentors.

The project is supporting all relevant stakeholders in the implementation and management of the cooperative training model. Particular emphasis is placed on building the capacity of the partner institutions to improve the legal framework conditions. This will create the foundations for successfully and sustainably implementing vocational education based on elements of the dual system.

Career guidance programmes, marketing activities and development partnerships with the private sector aim to raise awareness of the new model for cooperative technical vocational training and stimulate interest among young people and their parents. Companies are also being encouraged to participate in the cooperative training system.


  • A cooperative education model, with elements of dual training adjusted to conditions in Serbia, has been developed.
  • Six occupational courses with great potential for employment (locksmith-welder, electrician, industrial mechanic, tailor, car mechanic and electro-fitter for networks and installations) are currently being implemented according to the cooperative model. Approximately 2700 students are being trained in these occupations at 52 vocational schools.
  • The curricula for these courses have been updated and modernised. Students can acquire comprehensive skills and undergo more phases of practical learning, particularly in companies.
  • Around 80 per cent of the staff responsible for designing and implementing the cooperative model have been trained in delivering the updated teaching and learning content.
  • Development partnerships with the private sector have been established. The project is working closely with 200 companies on devising a cooperative training model that meets market needs.
  • Extensive marketing activities have been carried out to improve the image of vocational education. These activities are particularly aimed at future vocational school students and their parents as well as companies. Schools, youth offices and chambers of commerce are taking on the role of intermediaries in this context.
Serbia. Training to be an electrician. © GIZ