2. Establishing strategic partnership with the private sector and pilot VET centres for the implementation of dual-like VET scheme
1) Involvement of companies
In total 52 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) have been signed between three pilot VET centres and business entities operating in the pilot regions. The MoUs lay a solid foundation for cooperation between the VET centreand business entities in terms of delivering training in two domains (VET centre vs. company), providing practice venues for students to attend in-company training sessions at the companies’ premises, and establishing demonstration plots for students at the companies.
2) Dual-like VET concept
As guiding strategy to support piloting of the dual-like VET approach in selected occupations in pilot centres the “Dual-like VET Concept”s (DLVET Concept) were developed (separately for agriculture and tourism occupations) .
The DLVET concepts encompass statutory, organizational and technical requirements needed for successfully implementation of this new approach. The DLVET concepts incorporate following aspects: concept for cooperation structure between the VET centres and the private companies including Advisory Boards and dual-like VET mentorship, education plans with distribution of theory and practice hours and schedule for in-company training sessions, regulation on practical interim and final examinations.
According to the Concept the dual-like VET mentors were selected from each pilot VET centres among deputy directors. They coordinate and support the implementation of the dual-like VET approach at the VET centres’ level.
“Dual VET Concept” also emphasizes the importance of establishment of Advisory Boards in pilot VET schools. The Advisory Board is an important body for securing continuous contacts between VET schools and private sector. The Advisory Board is an independent body being neither a legal nor an organisational component of the VET schools. The members of the Advisory Board usually include the representatives of the private sector, chambers of commerce, private sector associations and the VET centre. Participation in Advisory Board is voluntary.
The Advisory Board addresses fundamental questions, including and not limited to the revision of study programmes (curriculum) and educational plans, participation of private sector in student enrolment, assessment of performance of students, establishment of career centres in VET schools, organisation of practical in-company training sessions. It supervises the self-evaluation and the (re-)accreditation of the study programmes, which means that it is of particular importance regarding the quality assurance system of the VET school. As regards the quality assurance, they will externally assess, evaluate and supervise the performance and relevance of individual study programmes. In total 4 Advisory Boards were established in Gabala and Ismayilli, respectively 2 in tourism, 2 in agriculture). So far, 5 Advisory Board meetings were organized in these pilot regions.
3) Participation of private sector in dual-like VET
Currently, partner companies (52) are actively cooperating with the three pilot VET centres in Gabala, Ismayilli and Gakh and 488 VET students have been/are studying on dual-like VET scheme. Student participate in in-company trainings at partner companies according to the in-company training schedule defined jointly with pilot VET centres and partner companies.
The seasonality is one of the challenges in distributing in-compnay training sessions. Private sector is always keen to employ students during public holidays and in high seasons. Firstly, because they can afford to accept more students for practical training during these periods, and secondly, students can learn more when there is real-time work taking place at the field. This applies to both, tourism and agricultural occupations. To address tis challenge, in-company training calendar was developed for each of the ED VET target occupations in separate meetings with specific industry representatives taking into account seasonality of field works.
The private sector is also involved in selection of students (interviews with the new VET students after the admission by ASAN). Companies also played an important role in interim evaluation of the students of pilot occupations. Interim examinations took place at partner companies on 25-27 June, 2019. The practical evaluation was led by the examination committee consisting of dual-like VET Mentor, in-company trainers and master-trainers. Representatives from the VET Agency and the ED VET project also observed the evaluation process.
5) Demonstration plots
For agricultural occupations, the ED VET project initiated innovative cooperation formats between the pilot VET centres and the private sector to enhance practical training and address seasonality in agriculture. This approach includes setting up “demonstration plots” on a private company’s premises. Following the approach 6 demonstration plots have been established within the premises of partner farms under the guidance of an international agricultural experts. Demo plots were founded at Agrocomplex Gabala (maize), Gilan Dairy Farms (maize), Ismayilli Park Agro (maize), Ulu Agro (wheat) Aspi Agro (vine) and Ismayilli Wine-2 (vine).
The demonstration plots in the partner farms were used for in-company training sessions of students and capacity building trainings for VET trainers organized by the project.
6) Cooperation with Ismayilli Wine-2 OJSC
With close facilitation of the project Ismayilli VET Center and Ismayilli Wine-2 LLC developed concluded an agreement on lending 2 hectares vineyard to Ismayilli centre. This agreement allows Ismayilli VT centre independently cultivate vineyard, produce its own wine and gain revenues from wine sales, after reimbursing expences foreseen in the lease contract. Within the frames of ED VET project, DiVine Consulting LLC was contracted to build the capacity of the master-trainers of the group as well as to supervise the work at the vineyard. Since then (February 2019), several trainings were held on various topics to students and trainers of “Grape and wine specialist” group (shoot removal, plant protection, soil management, wine processing, bottling, etc). The trainings were closely supervised by the German viticulture expert and the ED VET project experts.
Concept of demonstration vineyard was recognized succefully for facilitating practical training of student and master trainers. This approach is up-scaled to Gabala, where 2 ha. Vineyard was aslo handed over to students and trainers of Gabala VET centre for cultivatiopn. Meanwhile, SAVE contemplates about up-scaling of this approach to Jaliabad Vocational Lyceum withing the UNPD-implemented project.