The Klett DUAL programme has two major advantages – it offers a comprehensive package of practical and theoretical knowledge, which is useful for people changing professions and seeking to gain practical knowledge. Another major point is the opportunity to gain a special, specific vocation
Developing new educational formats – to combined mid-length vocational courses for individual students with the active mentoring of company partners – is a solution made in Serbia and made for Serbia. That is a way to help cope with the new reality of demand-driven labour markets.
What reflects the significance of dual education and vocational schooling? How important are they for the individual, for students; how important for companies and how important for local communities and society as a whole?
Mr Ayen: In Serbia, as well as in many other countries throughout Europe, we face a massive shift from supply-driven to demand-driven labour markets. The reasons are well-known: demography, emigration and a long trend of preferring academic education over vocational education. All these factors constantly reduce the pool of skilled workers. To put it bluntly: head-hunters and HR departments no longer search for managers, rather technicians and hotel clerks.
As for the question of the importance of vocational education for companies, communities and society, I would like to respond with a question: who is actually running all that? Who is producing our goods, who is welcoming us to hotels, who is repairing cars and who is capable of maintaining production systems? Society owes much to its workers, and Ernst Klett DUAL knows how to contribute to their qualifications.
Mr Kovačić: The ability to change, nowadays, means the difference between success and failure. Education is one of the major fields to provide the ability to adapt quickly. Dual education is a strong tool for that purpose. It provides individuals with a fast and efficient way to increase their knowledge and become competent with the most important skills nowadays. While learning, students will acquire practical knowledge that’s connected directly to theoretical points.
An additional important point to applying changeability is the usage of rare resources. The labour force has become quite a scarce resource in Europe recently. The utilisation of the existing workforce has started to be one of the most important activities for companies that also operate in Serbia. On top of that, scarce resource cost effectiveness comes as a relevant factor. Dual education supports the solving of both of these challenges, through practical training that fits the need and hits the demand for jobs.
Government and local communities are also interested parties, trying to ensure a good working environment for all business purposes. Together with infrastructure, the available skilled workforce is among the top interests where dual education can play a key role in ensuring skills that respond to the needs of the market.
Partnership is everything for dual education, especially partnerships with companies like Grundfos
To what extent are the programmes of Klett DUAL tailored to the needs of the market and employers in Serbia?
Mr Ayen: Our approach is easy to comprehend and based on solid, dual-education didactics. We have developed a variety of learning situations for each of our programmes, in which the students solve specific professional problems. Each learning situation lasts one to three full days, and they are usually designed in advance by our expert development team. If changes are necessary, we can implement them very fast. Our partner Grundfos Serbia, for instance, needed to adjust two of these learning situations to their needs, so we sat together with their technical staff and developed a tailor-made solution for electrical engineering. Employers could use this knowledge immediately in their production process.
Based on intensive research of market needs, we started last year with Mechatronics and will continue in the first half of 2020 with several programmes: Hospitality Management and Welding, as well as Language courses. We thereby always address two customer groups: companies and individual students.
Mr Kovačić: There are two major advantages of the Klett DUAL programme. It offers a comprehensive package of practical and theoretical knowledge, which is useful for people changing professions or in eliminating the deficiencies of the practical part of the public education system. Another major point is an opportunity to gain a special, specific vocation. The education system can give general education and fill the most needed working positions. The diversity of job roles creates a need for specific education, and that is something that Klett DUAL provides very effectively, through tailored professional education programmes. At the Grundfos Srbija production plant we have allocated a long list of different skills that are needed. Additionally, taking into consideration various industries, I believe that the significance of tailored programmes in acquiring skills offers huge opportunities and tangible advantages, for both companies and individuals.
How important is partnership with specific companies to the dual concept of work that makes Ernst Klett DUAL Serbia unique in the region? In what is it reflected?
Mr Ayen: Partnership is everything, especially partnerships with companies like Grundfos, whose factory in Inđija is most impressive and incredibly well-run. We listen to our partners, and we help to solve their problems.
Just recently, Mr Kovačić and representatives of PepsiCo and Tönnies joined us when German Ambassador Schieb and Mrs Piplica, Head of the embassy’s economic division and first secretary, visited our training centre in Belgrade. I can state with pride that our partners provided extremely positive feedback on our courses and partnership.
Having such partnerships, we at Klett DUAL also have the opportunity to develop new educational formats.
One recent idea is to offer combined mid-length vocational courses (6-9 months, school-based) for individual students, with the active mentoring of company partners. That would be a solution made in Serbia and made for Serbia, to help cope with the new reality of demand-driven labour markets.
Mr Kovačić: For us at Grundfos Srbija, employees are the most important asset. Our journey started with the first education programme, mechatronics. The employees who attended the programme rated it as the best education programme they’ve applied in their life.
We continued with the allocation of key company needs and the creation of an appropriate plan of education. Successfully stepping from one point to another, followed by great satisfaction and unconditional support in all aspects of cooperation and flexibility to adapt to our needs, convince us that we have a real partner on whom we can rely in solving these most sensitive topics and providing the best possible solution.