3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships
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Traineeships and apprenticeships are regulated differently in Serbia.
The Law on Secondary Education (Zakon o srednjem obrazovanju i vaspitanju) defines apprenticeships as professional practice and refers to the acquisition of practical knowledge and skills for independent work in the professional field while still at school.
Apprenticeships are mandatory parts of the learning process in three-year and four-year secondary vocational schools, as well as in some higher education institutions (for e.g. in the field of healthcare, law, social work, etc.). The implementation of the apprenticeships and all contractual and other logistic activities are left on the responsibility of the institutions themselves.
On the other hand, Article 201 of the Employment act (Zakon o radu) states:
“Contract on vocational training may be concluded, for completing traineeship or taking a professional exam, when the law or a bylaw provides it as a separate requirement for independent work in the profession. Contract on internship may be concluded, for professional development and acquisition of specific knowledge and skills to work in the profession, or to undergo specialization, during the time established for the program of internship, i.e. specialization, in accordance with a special regulation”.
The National Employment service can finance up to 12 months of vocational training through the Vocational Training Program. During the internship program, the National Employment Service:
- pays different amount of funds to the engaged persons in the name of financial assistance and transportation costs, depending on the level of qualification;
- calculates and pays contributions in case of injuries at work and work related diseases, in accordance with the law.
The funds are not paid to the employer but to the unemployed engaged through the program.
Trainee program is another National Employment service program intended:
- for unemployed persons with a high level of qualification;
- for unemployed persons with a secondary school qualification (bot vocational and general).
For unemployed persons with a high level of qualification, the program is realized at a private sector - employer premises and the National Service participates in financing the program for up to 12 months. An unemployed person must have at least ISCED 6 level of qualification and an average grade of at least 8.5 at previously completed levels of study, up to 30 years of age and have no work experience in the profession for which the qualification was acquired.
For unemployed persons with a secondary school qualification, the program is realized at a private sector - employer premises and the National Service participates in financing the program for up to 6 months. Unemployed persons must belong to one of the following categories of persons: young people up to 30 years of age who have been registered as unemployed for more than 6 months, unemployed persons with disabilities, unemployed Roma, young people who had or have the status of young people in foster care, foster families and foster care families.
Quality control mechanisms of traineeships and apprenticeships exist in some form only if they are parts of study programmes or educational profile (nurse, midwifes, caterers, etc.).
Bylaw on the curriculum for VET schools (Pravilnici o nastavnom planu i programu) and Bylaw on implementation of apprenticeship for HEIs (Pravilnik o stručnim praksama) regulate the conditions of the apprenticeships. These bylaws define that students are obligated to document their daily activities in diaries that are signed by responsible persons in businesses where apprenticeship occurs.Later on, the diaries are being validated by teachers from VET schools/mentors from HEIs.
The social security coverage applying to participants to traineeships and apprenticeships, such as sickness insurance, social contribution, are not covered either by the state or by the sending institution.
Students do not receive any payment for their apprenticeship but should be covered by social security in case of work injury, i.e. it is expected that the school/HEI covers students’ accident insurance.
A working group for traineeships was formed to make proposals for changes in the existing or adoption of new regulations in this area and the Draft Law on Traineeships (Nacrt zakona o radnoj praksi) has been publicly debated since August 2021 (see Chapter 3/3.11 Current debates and reforms).
One of the specific objectives defined in the study “Analysis of the Regulatory Framework for Entrepreneurs Focusing on the Three Most Potential Sectors, Proposing Simplified Procedures for Young Entrepreneurs” is to improve the position of young people in the labor market through the improvement of internship programmes and professional practical traineeship.
The programme “Improving the Employability of Youth through Traineeships“ has been implemented by UNICEF Serbia, in cooperation with the National Employment Service, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs and other partners, since November 2021. The programe includes training of young people through an online learning platform in order to adapt to the work environment and acquire skills necessary for career development, and the realization of traineeship in a work environment that includes employers from public, private and civil sectors. The I Choose Success online platform, which connects potential trainees to companies and organizations that provide traineeships has been developed for the purpose of the programme.
Raising awareness about traineeships and apprenticeships, supporting and encouraging providers of traineeships and apprenticeships is promoted by individual organisations, public institutions and projects, without defined top-level policy measures/initiatives.
Qualifications acquired through apprenticeships during formal education are recognized at the level of formal education through ECTS in higher education institutions (HEI). This is usually done as a part of one obligatory course at HEIs.
On the other hand, since 2019 when Serbia became Programme Country in Erasmus+ Programme, it became possible to use ECVET system for validation of activities conducted in mobilities in VET organisations. Yet, the ECVET system did not enter into official use in Serbia.
Young people participating in Youth Exchanges and Youth Worker Mobilities in the Erasmus+ programme use Youthpass. Youthpass serves as a recognition tool for non-formal and informal learning in youth work. Participants of Youth in Action and Youth in Action programmes use the Youthpass to describe what they have done and show what they have learnt. Youthpass ensures recognition of competences gained through non-formal learning in projects of the Erasmus+ programme: Youth in Action. Therefore, Youthpass can be observed as both a certificate of attendance and a certificate of a learning process.
Additionally, National Qualifications Framework (NQF) serves as the system for regulation of qualifications. The Law on National Qualifications Framework (Zakon o nacionalnom okviru kvalifikacija) defines the purpose of NQF, its objectives and principles, types and levels of qualifications, methods of qualifications' acquiring, descriptions of knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes for qualifications levels. It also identifies bodies and organisations in charge of application and development of the NQFS, quality assurance in NQF application and references to the European Qualifications Framework.
Since January 2019, youth worker has been officially registered as occupation in the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Serbia.
The main public body supporting apprenticeships and traineeships is the National Employment Service which implements active employment policy measures that include the Programme for traineeships. It implements its annual programmes on the basis of the National Employment Action Plan, which is adopted periodically by the Government of the Republic of Serbia. According to the National Action Plan for Employment for the period from 2021 to 2023 (Akcioni plan za period od 2021. do 2023. godine za sprovođenje Strategije zapošljavanja u Republici Srbiji za period od 2021. do 2026. godine) funds are provided as follows:
- Active employment policy programmes and measures in the amount of 5,200,000,000.00 RSD for 2021 and projections of funds in the amount of 5,500,000,000.00 RSD for 2022 and 6,000,000,000.00 RSD for 2023;
- Active employment policy programmes and measures from local governments - municipalities in the amount 900,000,000.00 RSD and projections of funds in the same amount for 2022 and 2023;
- Employment Programme Support National Employment Service (IPA 2013) in the amount of 52,796,000.00 RSD for 2021.
There is no top-level system of quality assurance applied to schemes of traineeships and apprenticeships in Serbia.