Strengthening Schools’ Capacities
To this end, one of the first steps was to equip the schools to improve conditions for delivering theoretical and practical classes, and non-formal trainings for the unemployed. The equipment was procured in line with schools’ needs and their current and planned educational offer. Equipping classrooms and school workshops allows delivering teaching and training in optimal conditions, using modern tools, devices and machines. Since the schools participating in the DECIDE project are verified for teaching in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and textile sector, the procured equipment included CNC machines, welding equipment, mechatronics kits, electrical and IT equipment.
The main support of the project, however, is provided in the form of measures for school staff capacity development. Coontinuous trainings on various topics enables school headmasters, teachers and professional associates to best respond to their new tasks that are in line with the school’s vision as a regional competence centre.
Next to the implementation of measures to further improve and ensure the quality of dual education, the project works extensively on building schools’ capacities to position themselves as competitive providers of non-formal trainings for the unemployed in their local communities. An indispensable part in developing schools as resources for adult education and a mandatory step in the formal procedure of acquiring a status of publicly recognised adult education provider is teacher training for andragogical competencies in project-supported schools.
Similarly, trainings and mentorship provided by the project contribute to strengthening capacities of school teams for creating, improving and implementing career guidance and counselling activities and programmes, not only for students in the formal education system, but for the unemployed youth too. Continuous networking and cooperation between secondary vocational schools and relevant actors in the local community is key for having career guidance and counselling services and programmes that are based on youth needs and that can provide the youth with appropriate support in finding employment and career management.
Given the educational policies’ growing focus on implementation and promotion of innovative pedagogical approaches and digital education development, the project delivered training for schools’ teachers on how to improve digital competencies and use online platforms and tools in teaching. This training is crucial as teachers nowadays are expected to possess the appropriate level of digital, IT and information literacy to meaningfully apply modern technology in teaching.
School headmasters and school management play a vital role in transforming their schools into regional competence centres, and therefore a crucial attention in the project is directed to further developing their professional competencies. Leadership, quality management, private sector cooperation, strategic partnerships and labour market needs monitoring are only a few training topics intended for school headmasters and their associates. The project supports schools in developing a “business” approach for defining the educational offer that is sufficiently responsive and flexible to swiftly respond to labour market needs.
Finally, an improved educational offer alone is not enough. The new vision of the school as a regional competence centre implies recognising the school as its own brand that requires special attention in building and promoting. Within the project, the schools have received new visually and functionally improved websites where different target groups, students and their parents, young unemployed people and companies interested in cooperation can easily access relevant information.
Also, measures for developing school capacities comprise school staff and student training on how to enhance a school’s PR strategy, digital marketing and success stories promotion by utilising different communication channels and formats.