Firms sign up for dual education

Cooperation between schools and companies to bolster job market.

(Source: Courtesy of Volkswagen Slovakia)

GRADUATES of vocational schools are much more likely to transition quickly into the work force if they collaborate with an employer while still in school. Some 130 companies from various businesses have enrolled into the state’s new dual education scheme, which will pair 1,800 students with employers starting in September.

The National Union of Employers (RÚZ) says the response of perceives the interest of companies higher than expected.

“This confirms the sense of the introduction of the dual education and simultaneously of what we have been claiming for a long period of time and that is that there is lack of qualified labour in Slovakia,” Martin Hošták, the RÚZ’s secretary, told the Pravda daily.

He also said he expects the numbers to grow in the years ahead.

By the April 10 deadline, 130 companies enrolled into the dual education scheme for the next academic year, Education Ministry spokeswoman Beáta Dupaľová Ksenzsighová informed in a press release. They come from all regions of Slovakia with the trade, tourism, car mechanics, and the electrotechnical sectors leading the way. In terms of size, companies with the number of employees from 20 up to 100 are more interested. In total they will create 1,800 work positions. INA Kysuce is the company seeking the highest number of students, 100 who specialise as mechanics.

Now the companies enrolled will be checked whether they meet preconditions for providing practical training and there are admission examinations for students during the first half of May.

Under the program, companies will reward students attending practical training while the payment for one hour of productive work is 50 and 100 percent of the minimum wage (€1.09-€2.18). Students can receive a scholarship from the state budget of between 25 and 65 percent of the subsistence level (€22.61-€58.77) per month depending on results of the student in the school, plus a a monthly scholarship from the company, up to four-fold of the subsistence level, €361.68 per month.

Participating companies are also entitled to tax relief of up to €3,200 per student that they provide practical training of more than 400 hours annually. While employers originally required direct payment, Hošták expects that talks about motivation mechanisms for companies would continue.

“We expect that motivation mechanisms will be set so that a large share of employees and companies joins this scheme,” Hošták said.

Graduates with experience

Most companies in Slovakia require practice from graduates of secondary vocational schools and avoid employing fresh graduates, a survey conducted by the AKO agency focused on secondary vocational schools indicated. The polling agency already conducted such a survey for the fourth time. It conducted its latest survey on a sample of 1,000 companies.

“More than 50 percent of companies do not take up [recent] graduates,” said Václav Hřích from AKO agency as cited by the TASR newswire. “Only about 27.8 percent of companies employ them.”

Hřích added that the share of companies taking up graduates increased when they asked this question to companies already cooperating with a secondary vocation school.

“This means that the key to employment of graduates is cooperation of the company with a secondary vocation school,” said Hřích as cited by SITA.

The problem is that such cooperation is not very widespread when only about 22 percent of companies cooperate with any secondary vocation school.

“Logically then they cannot expect that the school would prepare a student according to their needs,” said Hřích. “But the mistake is on both sides. When we communicated with companies employing graduates, as much as 60 percent of them have taken up a graduate from the school with which they cooperate.”

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