Vocational education and training (VET) in Croatia has been receiving much attention recently. Specifically in dual vocational education, it is a focus for policy-makers and stakeholders, recognising a need to increase the employability of VET school graduates for whom current indicators are low. Consequently, VET is a key reform measure in the 2016 National reform programme. The Croatian Government work programme 2016-20 foresees the introduction of dual vocational education. Government support is ensured through regular monthly meetings, with the topic of VET and dual education headed by the deputy prime minister and the minister of education, along with stakeholders.
In February 2017, the Economic Council of the President of the Republic of Croatia presented its recommendations, which include a segment dedicated to VET. The Council identified areas for improvement and provided recommendations on several important issues: improving the importance of VET with links to the labour market, strengthening professional capacities, and dealing with the lack of flexibility and cooperation within the VET system. From the Council’s perspective, some of the challenges are related to the current lack of dual education, lack of practical training and its discontinuity, inadequate validation of learning outcomes, and inability to acquire entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. The main goals are the reintroduction of dual education and development of curricula to ensure that acquired competences will match labour market needs.
Previous initiatives include the introduction of dual vocational education by VET stakeholders. The introduction of dual education is advocated by the Chamber of Economy (HGK), supported by initiatives from the Austrian and the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce; it is seen as both an excellent means of battling youth unemployment and a means for reducing skilled workforce emigration to EU member states with stronger economies. The chamber believes that the first step should be a pilot project, followed by gradual increase in students participating in dual education each year. HGK has initiated an Erasmus+ project Capp4App intended to strengthen the chamber’s role in assisting SMEs engaging in the dual vocational education system and improving apprenticeships, correlates with the review of apprenticeship in the Republic of Croatia within the Cedefop project Thematic review on country apprenticeship.
With dual education receiving support from key stakeholders and policy-makers, it can be expected that the special committee for introduction of dual education, which will be appointed shortly, will be able to set out the steps for the future development of both dual and school-based VET in Croatia.