Fewer managers, more welders. How the vocational education system is being transformed - one region benchmark
Vitaliy Bunechko, Head of the Zhytomyr Regional State Administration
How to overcome the imbalance in the Ukrainian labor market? The experience of the Zhytomyr region is ready for scaling: to turn the "PTU" (technical colleges) into modern educational and practical centers that give students the opportunity to practice at the enterprises-customers of personnel
It was once trendy to send children to study to become an accountant, manager, economist and lawyer. Now we are reaping the fruits of these decisions - and those who have mastered these professions in Ukraine experience the greatest difficulties in finding a job.
Only in the Zhytomyr region (as of February 1), 37 thousand citizens received state employment services, of which 18.5 thousand were unemployed (this is 21% more than last year on the corresponding date). 42% of these people have a university degree. Despite the fact that 62% of vacancies are booked for blue-collar occupations.
So, the main problem of the labor market in Ukraine and the Zhytomyr region in particular is the imbalance between the demand and supply of labor. There is a surplus of graduates from universities, while business is experiencing a significant shortage of specialists in professions where you need to work with your head and hands - a welder, an electrician, a locksmith, a road and agricultural machine operator, a driver, a seamstress, a machine operator of woodworking machines.
Get down to the ground
It would seem that this is a chance for Ukrainian vocational and technical education (VTE) to hit a kind of "jackpot" and prove its usefulness. But de facto, it cannot train specialists who meet business needs.
How do we tackle these challenges in the Zhytomyr region? Practice has shown that the transformation of VTE institutions into educational and practical centers (EPC) with modern equipment and programs is the best option. It is in such establishments that students receive competencies that are in demand on the market and are well paid.
But closer to specifics. Zhytomyr region during 2021-2025 will closely follow the progress of two pilot VTE projects - "Modernization of institutions" and "Introduction of elements of a dual form of education".
Modernization of VTE institutions and launch of modern industry-specific training and practical centers on their basis
In 6 institutions of V(VT)E there are 12 sectoral EPC functioning. 8 of them were created at the expense of state subventions, 4 - public-private partnership.
Finances come from various sources - the Ministry of Education (the opening last year of the EPC in Golovino, Chernyakhovsky district), the Fund of Regional Development (several projects in 2021), and others. Educational institutions themselves, local authorities and the regional budget also co-finance this process. To the amount of UAH 3.794.000, provided for in 2020 by a subvention from the state budget, for the first time from the regional budget funds were allocated for co-financing the project in the amount of UAH 1.056.000 (30%).
The transformation of an ordinary "vocational school" into modern training centers is bearing expectedly good results. For example, the Golovinsky Higher School for nonmetallic technologies turned into two EPC - welding technologies and operation and maintenance of road-building machines and equipment. In the first institution there is a winding line of those who seek to enter, because now welders easily find work. The second center, opened at the end of last year, teaches professions using construction equipment Volvo Car Ukraine - a modern loader and excavator. For the creation of this EPC, the Ministry of Education allocated more than 3 million UAH, of which 320,000 are funds of the institution itself. The company-supplier of equipment additionally provided the center with spare parts in the amount of UAH 600 thousand. Graduates of the Golovinsky Higher School will definitely be in demand by employers, because last year, thanks to the program of the President of Ukraine "Big Construction", we saw the rapid development of the mining industry and the restoration of transport infrastructure.
Another EPC in the region was opened at the beginning of this year in Novograd-Volynsky. The institution will train specialists for the woodworking industry. Students will be taught on 20 modern machines and equipment made in Austria, Sweden, Belgium and Bulgaria. Every year this EPC will be able to prepare up to fifty specialists for the market, which is in dire need of workers in this profession.
What is the employers' feedback on the graduates of these centers? Positive. They are not only happy to hire former students, but also send their workers to the centers to improve their qualifications. If in previous years 81-85% of graduates of institutions were employed, then last year - already 90%!
The introduction of the dual form of training elements in the professional training of skilled workers
The main advantage of this modern approach is the opportunity for applicants for vocational education to undergo industrial training and practical training at the enterprises-customers of personnel. That makes a difference.
As of January 1, of this year, the elements of the dual form of training are being introduced in 10 VTE institutions for 16 blue-collar occupations together with more than 160 enterprises of the region. This is how 949 students receive education. We observe the best cooperation practices in:
- Malinsky vocational lyceum (together with "Malinsky sewing factory "Elfa"(specialties Seamstress and Tailor))
- Berdychiv High School (together with "Zhytomyrski Lasoschi" (specialty Candy-maker))
- Novograd-Volynskiy High School (together with the furniture factory "Mirt" (Construction joiner and Machine operator of woodworking machines))
- Vocational school №16 of Korosten (together with "Korosten chemical engineering plant" (Electric welder)).
The vocational education system, like the knowledge of languages, needs to be constantly developed. So, in the Zhytomyr region, we will expand the list of professions whose specialists are needed by business, attract a much larger number of enterprises for the dual form of education and create a network of VTE institutions capable of providing high-quality professional education.
This year alone, we plan to open 12 sectoral EPC for the funds of the State Regional Development Fund in the amount of UAH 24,700,000.