Dual vocational education and training in Slovakia

Article, 25.01.2017

Switzerland is supporting a project to help Slovakia improve dual vocational education and training. The project aims to develop a practice-based market-oriented vocational education and training system. The vocational schools gear their courses to businesses’ requirements and pupils receive training in a company in addition to theoretical knowledge. This equips them with better qualifications and improves their job prospects.

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The training at the VET school for food processing and hotel services in Bratislava prepares apprentices well for the Slovakian job market. © SDC

Slovakian delegation of vocational teaching staff visits Switzerland

In November 2016, a Slovakian delegation came to Switzerland to find out more about Switzerland's vocational and professional education and training system. This delegation comprised school directors and regional vocational training system representatives from the Slovakian interior and education ministries. They visited the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) and the training centre of the Swiss Contractors' Association. Furthermore, they learned about the role of the careers service at cantonal level and the status of the project to reform the Slovakian vocational education systems. 

According to statistics, youth unemployment in Slovakia is around 20%, while many sectors complain of a shortage of well-qualified workers and wish to see more practice-oriented vocational education and training. The project therefore actively promotes close contacts between vocational schools, trade associations and employer organisations. This is an area in which Switzerland performs particularly well, and the country is using extensive experience derived from its own dual vocational system to provide vital input for the reforms under way in Slovakia. 

Encouraging results

The project, now in its final phase, has achieved a number of successes. Peter Krajnak, Slovakian State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport, has seen interest in the dual vocational education and training system grow among parents, pupils and companies. The number of pupils entering the dual system doubled between 2015 and 2016. A total of 1,121 apprenticeship contracts have been signed and 1,543 pupils attend a school offering a dual vocational education and training programme. The project supported by Switzerland as part of its contribution to the enlarged EU accounts for around one third of these.