In July 2018, 25 VET schools were chosen among 42 applicant schools to become the first centres of competence in Croatia, based on the quality of VET provision, the number of students in particular sectors, regional distribution of schools and balanced geographical representation of future centres. In the following short-term period, the centres of competence will be established in five priority areas: tourism and hospitality, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and ICT, health care and agriculture. Over 130 million EUR from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds will be invested in the state-of-the-art equipment for the future centres, boarding room for VET students and teachers, expanded opportunities for work-based learning and more successful transition of VET graduates to labour market, closer cooperation with employers and advanced teacher training opportunities.
Centres of competence will serve as hubs of excellence in VET with particular focus on work-based learning. Established with the support of ESI funds, the centres of competence will offer VET programs to students, as well as professional guidance and continuous professional development and training for professionals, VET teachers and workplace mentors. Central features of centres of competence include innovative learning opportunities, the excellence of teachers and workplace mentors, as well as state-of-the-art facilities and intensive cooperation with local enterprises and other stakeholders in VET.
Relying on long-standing European best practices in VET, the establishment of centres of competence in Croatia is also in line with the Strategy of Education, Science and Technology, VET System Development Programme 2016-2020 and the new amendments to the Act on Vocational Education from 2018. Finally, the future network of centres of competence represents a unique opportunity to increase investment in VET in Croatia, encourage cooperation and networking between VET schools, higher education institutions and enterprises, promote quality and innovation in VET and advance professional and entrepreneurial competencies of students.