“Employability skills are as critical to getting a job as anything students could learn in the classroom”

The high rate of unemployment, technical progress and globalization, on the one hand, and the reorganization of production processes, on the other hand, have significantly modified the demand for skills during the past few decades. As a result of these long-term trends, it is not certain that the skills and qualifications acquired in the education system will be able to meet current and emerging needs, meaning that there is the possibility of further imbalances and gaps in the supply and demand chain for skills and competent workforce in the labor market.

It is often assumed that high school students who have chosen vocational education have already chosen an occupation or career and that they do not need additional support with a career planning process. If this thinking is accepted, it follows that the career planning process is dedicated only to supporting students in choosing an occupation. This may result in those students who have enrolled in vocational education and have no intention of entering higher education, should not receive career planning assistance at all.

But basically, such considerations are wrong, because career planning has a much wider scope of action and does not consist only of choosing an occupation or a profession. This includes the strengthening of skills for researching the labor market, discovering one's own strengths and weaknesses and comparing them with the profession of dreams, adaptation skills that will ensure a flexible transition from secondary vocational education to the labor market and its rapid changes.

If this is at all a dilemma, then one must start from the fact that it is what employers are looking for. Employability skills, which are today key to entering the labor market, are expected by employers from all potential employees, regardless of whether they have completed secondary or higher education. For that reason, it is very clear that career counseling and the process of career planning in secondary education should also be oriented towards building competencies for employability. That is, secondary education needs to be oriented towards acquiring competencies for employability, regardless of whether it is vocational education or gymnasium.

Introducing elements of career counseling in teaching is not a reform in itself. It should cause a different approach to teaching and learning. The teachers, but also the students themselves, should be oriented in the learning process not only to the achievement of the goals in the curriculum, but also to the goals that should make the students successful in the labor market.

The orientation towards the acquisition of competencies for employability, and especially the competencies for career development, will cause the school to open to the outside world, the world of work. Such an orientation will modify the teaching methodology and enable employability competencies and career planning activities, to be part of the teaching content. At the same time, these contents will be intertwined with the thematic content of the studied subjects and will provide an interdisciplinary approach in teaching. Applying teaching content in a practically applicable, interdisciplinary context will fundamentally advance the entire learning process.

In order to respond to these challenges, a strategy was developed in our country that will contribute to vocational education and training becoming a key actor in the development of the workforce. This strategy and the measures foreseen in it enable vocational education and training to strengthen its own attractiveness, relevance and quality. It should offer young people more diverse and flexible opportunities to learn and acquire employability competencies.

Strengthening of employability competencies among young people in the Republic of North Macedonia is also being done through further expansion and deepening of the concept of learning through work in companies. Such a concept is aimed at reducing the discrepancy between the skills acquired in the educational process and the skills required in the labor market. The main component to which great attention is being paid at this moment is dual education, as one of the components through which the Ministry of Education and Science continuously strengthens secondary vocational education.

As part of the activities for the revival of the dual system, steps are being taken in two key areas in our country. The first area is functional public-private partnership and social dialogue. The second area is the integration of professional pedagogy in the world of work.

What is paid the most attention in the initial stages of implementation, is for the company to get closer to the student in order to feel the spirit of work and to become a real employer.

Secondary education in function of acquiring employability skills
  • Author / Originator: Marija Kovacheska - Euroguidance Ambassador - North Macedonia
  • Country of origin North Macedonia
  • Resource launch date September 06, 2023
  • Main focus Career Development
  • Context Employment (PES)
  • Type Publication
  • This practice developed through Erasmus+ No