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 2017

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 vocational training programmes currently on offer are theoretical and do not meet industry needs. Training in practical 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 impact on demand for vocational education, particularly on the three-year technical vocational training programmes.

Training needs to be reformed to reflect actual requirements, with the involvement of all stakeholders in the training process, but first and foremost the companies, which require assistance in building their own training capacities.

The offer for 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 profiles 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 profiles was updated in order to improve the quality and increase the percentage of practical training in companies. To implement the modernised teaching and learning content, training is being provided for teachers, school headmasters and mentors in the companies.

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. In this manner, it is expected that the cooperative model will be implemented successfully and on a lasting basis, and that high-quality vocational training will be available.

Career guidance programmes, marketing measures 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.


  • Cooperative education model, with elements of dual training adjusted to conditions in Serbia, has been developed
  • Criteria for selection of profiles, schools, companies and mentors have been defined
  • Three occupational profiles with great potential for employment, locksmith-welder, electrician and industrial mechanic, are currently being implemented according to the cooperative model. Approximately 400 students are being educated for these profiles in 10 vocational schools in Serbia.
  • Curricula of these profiles have been updated and modernized in order to develop comprehensive occupational competence of the students and increase the proportion of practical learning phases, particularly in companies.
  • Around 80% of staff responsible for design and implementation of the cooperative model have been trained to implement the updated teaching and learning content.
  • Partnerships with the private sector have been established. 25 companies are actively involved in the education according to the cooperative model.
  • The attractiveness of technical profiles and cooperative education model has increased among prospective students, their parents and companies due to the extensive marketing measures. They are primarily aimed at future vocational school students, their parents, and 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


Ann-Kathrin Hentschel