The project “Promotion of Student Competences and VET Through Skills Competitions” is co-financed by the European Social Fund, and the holder of the project is the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education. The value of this project is a total of HRK 40.919.987,84, of which 85 % is co-financed from the European Social Fund and 15 % from national funds.
The project is funded under the Call to the Agency for VET and Adult Education to submit proposals for operations as a direct allocation of funds under Priority Axis 3 – “Education and Lifelong Learning”, from Operational Program “Effective Human Resources” 2014-2020. “, published by the Ministry of Labour.
Vocational competitions are recognized at national, European and global levels as an important mechanism for promoting the excellence and attractiveness of vocational education. The project “ Promotion of Student Competences and VET Through Skills Competitions” will respond to the challenges in the vocational education system in Croatia, such as low social perception of quality and relevance of vocational programs, will provide financial support for the necessary modernisation of national vocational student competitions, increase participation of Croatian representatives in international skills competitions and raise the reputation of vocational education through systematic strategic promotion through competitions.The aim of the project is to promote the importance of student competences and vocational occupations by improving the existing system of vocational competitions and strengthening the competences of school staff and students through participation in a modernized system of competitions at national and international level. The project started in 2017 and the implementation will last a total of 5 years (60 months).
During the three years of project implementation, the following was achieved:
- A Survey for vocational schools, teachers, principals and students about existing model of works and student competitions was conducted on a sample of 58 students, 500 teachers and 120 principals of secondary vocational schools in the Republic of Croatia;
- An Expert Working Group was formed to analyze the existing model of professional competitions and vocational fairs and to develop a new model of competitions and vocational fairs. Two documents were prepared – Analysis of the existing model of vocational competitions and the New model of competition of vocational school students. Two study visits were organised to national competitions in Skills – The Finals (Netherlands) and Taitaja (Finland), as examples of good practice in the area of competition;
- Following the work of the Expert Working Group, 44 working groups were formed for the preparation of technical description documents and task models for disciplines of vocational competitions in the Republic of Croatia. Technical Description and Task Model documents were developed, published and implemented in 44 disciplines;
- Continuous participation of the Agency’s representatives in the international associations WorldSkills International and WorldSkills Europe has been ensured. Since 2017, the Agency has been participating in European and world competitions under the name WorldSkills Croatia. All competitors come from vocational schools and are led by their experts, teachers and professors of vocational subjects through the preparations for the competition itself. In relation to that, WorldSkills Croatia team participated in the European competition in Budapest with a total of 13 competitors and 11 experts in 11 disciplines. The Medallion of Excellence award was won in the Hotel Reception discipline, while the Best of Nation award was received for the team discipline Fashion Design and Technology. The WorldSkills Croatia team also participated in the world competition in Kazan with a total of 9 competitors and 10 experts in 10 disciplines. The Medallion of Excellence and Best of Nation awards were won in the Hotel Reception discipline, while the Medallion of Excellence award was received in the Network Systems Administration discipline;
- The media campaign “Skills are everywhere around us” was conducted;
- The website worldskillscroatia.hr was created;
- In March 2019, the National Competition of Vocational School Students – WorldSkills Croatia 2019 was organised (for the first time in accordance with the new competition model) at the Zagreb Fair, with a total of 44 vocational disciplines in 13 educational sectors and 3 vocational fairs. 568 students participated, accompanied by 436 mentors. 220 members of the judging committees were engaged in the organization and implementation of the competition. 34 vocational schools hosted disciplines and competition competitions, while a total of 260 schools participated. The Agency has ensured partnerships with 24 economic entities. During the two days of competition, which took place in an area of 15,000 m2, with a strong media campaign and coverage (35 media representatives), WorldSkills Croatia 2019 was visited by more than 12,000 people, including students and teachers from more than 100 primary and secondary schools all over Croatia. As part of the WorldSkills Croatia National Competition 2019, the “Faust Vrančić” award ceremony was organised, which was awarded to 67 students;
- Key tasks have been initiated for the organization of the next National Competition of Vocational School Students WorldSkills Croatia, which include: invitation to all vocational schools to express interest in their students’ participation in competitions; modification of existing documents (Technical description and Task Model) for 38 disciplines by selected members of the Judging committees; formation of six working groups, which drafted the Technical Description and Task Model documents for 6 new alternate disciplines; holding informative meetings with representatives of the founders of vocational schools in the Republic of Croatia; networking and cooperation with representatives of economic entities.
As a direct consequence of the global pandemic COVID-19 and measures adopted at the national level to limit the spread of the viral infection, the National Competition of Vocational School Students – WorldSkills Croatia 2020 was canceled. Given that the WorldSkills Croatia competition is the largest competition for vocational students in this part of Europe and was supposed to gather about 1,500 accredited participants and almost 15,000 visitors, the health of all these individuals was a priority when the decision was made.
2020 and 2021 represent the years of key activities and challenges for finalizing the developmental phase of the project. Completion of a series of project activities is planned during this period. That includes:
- Development and implementation of a new information system for competitions – SINAS system (Central Information Competition System);
- Ensuring the continuity of preparation and organization of the National Competition of Vocational School Students – WorldSkills Croatia;
- Media campaign for vocational education and training through competitions and festivals;
- Meetings with representatives of the founders of vocational schools in the Republic of Croatia;
- Continuation of networking and cooperation with representatives of economic entities;
- Procurement of space, accommodation, food, promotional materials and transportation for all participants in the Competition and vocational fairs;
- Preparation, organization and participation in European and world competitions (ES Graz and WS Shanghai).
Project website: https://www.worldskillscroatia.hr/en/homepage/