Out of 28 secondary school students graduating from the first generation of locksmith-welders from the Secondary Vocational School in Kragujevac, 25 have started working in local companies after graduation. One of those who didn’t quickly switch from education to employment is Luka Grubač, not because employers were not interested in hiring him, but because Luka had different plans. In addition to a job offer in a well-known company in Kragujevac, he also refused an offer for additional training in the Slovenian School Centre in Velenje simply because he decided to continue his education in his hometown. After completing his three-year education, he enrolled in the fourth year at the Secondary Vocational School in Kragujevac with intention to continue on to the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.
When asked how and why after primary school he chose dual education and a three-year applied education profile, Luka explains: “I was an A student in primary school and at first, at the urging of my parents who wanted for me to obtain a higher education, I enrolled into the Second Grammar School of Kragujevac. However, I’ve quickly came to realise that a college degree is no guarantee for a secure and well-paid job, and that there is a huge employers’ interest in craft professions, including welding. That’s why I’ve transferred into the locksmith-welder educational profile at the Polytechnic School at that time, in wishing to secure my future”.
Luka, who is currently a student at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Belgrade, believes that the knowledge and skills he received during his secondary education have helped him become a successful university student, as he received a theoretical and practical basis for what he’s studying at the university. Even though he finished his education for locksmith-welder as the best student in his generation, at first, he thought that occupation was not for him. “The first step in the workshop where I had my work-based learning was a bit frightening. It is a huge room filled with so many machines you know nothing about and you’re terrified you’ll break something. But, since the instructors are always near and willing to show you how to operate them, practice work soon becomes interesting and with each passing day you try to be better than you were yesterday. My first welding job had turned out pretty poorly, I was joking with my older colleagues that the weld looked like a worm. But, with time, I learned how to do it right. After finishing my third year, the difference compared to my first attempts was huge – as if they were made by two different people”, Luka explains the road to developing his welding skills.
Tomorrow, when he graduates from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Luka will be able to boast both a craft in his hands and a university diploma. His life philosophy is that one must continue to learn and set new challenges throughout one’s life, and in line with what he says, he is diligently studying and working on becoming a mechanical engineer. The craft he trained for during his secondary education gives him safety and a sort of relief in terms of his future knowing that work is never scarce for good welders. If he were to extend an advice to youth choosing their future occupation and education, Luka Grubač would say: “First and foremost, be rational. Grammar School is a good, but not the only option. A three-year school can also be very useful, primarily because it makes it easier to get a job, but also because it gives you an opportunity to continue with schooling if you have the will and the desire to learn more”.