EU4Skills helping to improve quality and prestige of vocational education in Ukraine

EU4Skills program was launched in Ukraine. Thanks to this program, European partners, working jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, will improve infrastructure, procure equipment and organize training for teachers at vocational schools. Read on to find out whom these changes will concern and what the students of vocational schools, colleges, specialized lyceums and centers should expect.

“Most of the metal cutting equipment we have here is 40 years old. Would it meet the needs of today’s enterprises? Of course, not.”

Mykola Nesen, the principal of a vocational school in the Poltava Oblast, speaks about the problems his educational institution has. He says: certain equipment is obsolete and the pay of masters is lower than what they could get at the factory, and therefore, specialists are quitting the school. In addition, they lack shortened training programs.

“Today, employers need people for concrete operations. Why studying for so long, then? In our understanding, a turner or a machine tool operator of broad specialization must be able to do everything, and at high level at that. However, there are enterprises which need a specialist who will perform only one particular operation, for example, turning or crosscutting,” Mykola Nesen explains.

Soon, foreign specialists will share modern education programs and European standards for vocational education with Ukrainians. This is a part of EU4Skills program launched in Ukraine. It will consist of three main components, Hanna Novosad, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, says.

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Hanna Novosad

“We as the government have set themselves a goal in the field of vocational education to ensure that in five years, at least 45% of school graduates choose vocational education. We realize very well that without three things — change of the content of education, better instruments of engaging employers, and modernization and improvement of working conditions at educational institutions – it will be extremely difficult to achieve,” Hanna Novosad says.

Therefore, during four years, several Ukrainian vocational schools will receive new equipment. Kurt Strasser, Director of KfW office in Kyiv, explains the priorities of their organization.

“The main thing is construction standards at educational institutions. In Germany and other countries, we have stricter requirements to construction standards: what materials were used to erect the building, what windows it has, whether the floor is stable, and whether the building on the whole is safe for students and teachers. That’s why we will invest, in particular, in the improvement of construction standards to bring them up to Germany’s level,” Kurt Strasser explains.

In addition, businessmen will teach at the selected vocational schools, colleges or professional centers, and the masters and management of these institutions will undergo trainings conducted by Ukrainian and foreign specialists.

“A master must come to an ultramodern machine tool and show students that he is a real pro. Moreover, I want these educational institutions to become business hubs. I want them to be able to provide services to the public and earn some working capital. If an institution earns a million or more, I will consider my objective accomplished,” Petro Korzhevskyi, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, says.

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EU4Skills

The Ministry and its foreign partners are presently deciding what particular educational institutions and of what specialization should expect these changes. The project will encompass seven pilot regions: Vinnytsia, Poltava, Zaporizhia, Rivne, Lviv, Mykolaiv and Chernivtsi Oblasts. Each region proposed three educational institutions. In addition, centers for excellence will be established in the pilot regions.

“We have to select one institution from among the three. Our mission, together with a representative of the Education Ministry, will visit 21 institutions. I think that seven of them will become those centers for professional excellence, and the rest will get short programs of either up to 500 thousand or between 500 thousand and one million euros. These funds will help us improve the institution’s infrastructure,” Mr. Korzhevskyi says.

According to the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, a distinguishable feature of the centers for excellence will be the possibility to perform there independent evaluations of qualification of students and the staff.

“It will be training of students as the primary professional preparation, but it also will be training of the unemployed, people who lost their job and everyone who wants to get retrained under a short-term program. Our other vision is to also enable these institutions to evaluate qualification at the end of training and also “upon enrollment”.

For anyone may already have certain competencies, so in order to reduce the period of training, that person will take a test “upon enrollment” to help determine what inclinations the person has. And according to the results of that test, a person will select a program and have the number of modules reduced or increased accordingly. This way, the period of training could vary, becoming shorter or, if necessary, longer,” Petro Korzhevskyi explains.

It is worth mentioning that in December of last year, Ukraine and the European Commission signed an agreement on the funding of EU4Skills program for 58 million euros. These are the funds provided by foreign donors. Of that amount, 21 million euros will be allocated for renovation of equipment and infrastructure. According to Petro Korzhevskyi, Ukraine also has obligations in this project. Local public authorities in each of the selected regions will have to invest at least 20% of the amount allocated to them. This program will continue until 2023.

 

By Iryna Saievych

Source: Hromadske Radio