As a post-conflict country, Kosovo continues to face high unemployment and migration rate. To mitigate the issue of unemployment and migration, it was important for Kosovo to start implementing education and employment alternatives that are part of the best practices in different European countries and other developed countries worldwide. One of such alternatives was prioritising Vocational Education and Training (VET) in educational policies.
Since 2000, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation has helped mitigate the effects of the prolonged crisis in the Balkans and Kosovo. Therefore, on 23 April 2013, the Government of Kosovo signed a bilateral agreement and a memorandum of understanding with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Even before the independence was declared in 2008, improving the education system in Kosovo was one of the main areas of intervention. It was clearly identified as a key sector for revitalising the economy of the young republic and ensuring long-term sustainability.
Around 30 000 new job seekers enter the labour market every year, but current economic growth generates no more than 15 000 new jobs per annum. More than a third of young Kosovars do not have a job or training – a category that could be designated as “the lost generation”.
For these reasons, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency-LuxDev is supporting the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI). The Agency is helping to modernise the formal education system through reforms in vocational training, where LuxDev plays a crucial role in supporting the implementation of these interventions.
Due to the importance of VET sector for the overall development of Kosovo, the VET system has been subject to reforms mainly regarding curriculum revisions, teachers’ training, and cooperation with businesses. The MESTI and the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers (former Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare), municipalities, and other social partners provide VET opportunities to citizens of Kosovo to equip students with the necessary competencies and skills to be more competitive in the labour market. VET structure and strategy is outlined in the Kosovo Education Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (KESP), which aims at improving the VET system through enhancing the relevance of school programmes to labour market needs, developing VET curriculum aligned to the Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF), National Qualifications Framework (NQF), and providing work experience and professional practice to VET students.
VET system in Kosovo
The VET system in Kosovo is state-driven. The main national actor is the Ministry of Education, Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI), which is involved in all the VET governance functions; formulating the national policy framework, provision of legislation, managing VET provider networks, mobilising financial resources, managing public-private partnerships for VET, evaluating and reviewing VET policies, research and development (R&D), and data and statistical provision.
The Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers is the key actor in mobilising financial resources. At the regional/local level, municipalities are involved in several VET governance functions, and VET schools and training firms mainly act on instructions and implement decisions.
The education system in Kosovo is divided into three general levels: higher education, pre-university education and vocational education. Higher education covers the academic level after completing high school, i.e., three years of basic studies following the adoption of the Bologna system, master, and doctoral studies. On the other hand, pre-university level includes primary, lower secondary, upper secondary levels, and vocational education, including upper secondary vocational schools and centres of competence.
The total number of public schools in Kosovo is 1,094, including 44 pre-school level institutions, 927 primary and lower secondary level schools and 123 upper secondary schools. At the upper secondary level education, there are 61 vocational schools, six centres of competence and eight Vocational Training Centres (VTCs). The centres of competence are managed by the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (AVETAE) since 2014, and VTCs operate under the remit of the Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo and Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers. Private institutions also provide vocational education through the provision of training and education services.
As described on the National Qualification Framework (NQF), there are eight (8) levels of qualifications: level 8 – doctorate; level 7 – master; level 6 – bachelor/university; level 5 – 2 year pre-university or advanced vocational school; level 4 – Matura and General Diploma/Vocational diploma in VET; level 3 – General education (upper secondary school), grades 9-12 and/or equivalent VET; level 2 – General education (lower secondary school), grades 6-9 and/or equivalent VET; level 1 – General education (primary school), grades 1-5 and/or equivalent VET.
The VET sector in Kosovo aims to equip students with the knowledge, practical abilities, skills, and competencies required by specific professions in the labour market. The VET system is comprised of formal and non-formal training as foreseen by the NQF. Upper secondary vocational education is divided into two levels. The first level includes grades 10 and 11 enabling employment as a semi-qualified worker, while the second level includes grade 12, enabling employment as a qualified worker in the labour market. However, vocational school graduates can continue higher education like other students who graduate from upper secondary schools, such as gymnasiums.
Unlike in the past, when the VET sector was the second choice for students and their parents, VET schools have received more students in the past three years. According to the latest statistical reports (2019/2020), over half (53%) out of 74,427 students attending upper secondary education in Kosovo choose VET programmes.
VET legislation and institutional arrangements
The following main legal provisions regulate the VET system in Kosovo:
- Law No. 04/L-138 for Vocational Education and Training;
- Law No. 03/L-060 on National Qualifications Law No.04/L-032;
- Law on Pre-University Education in the Republic of Kosovo;
- Law No. 03/L-068 on Education in the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo;
- Law No. 06/L-046 on Education Inspectorate in Kosovo Law No. 04/L-205 on the Employment Agency of Kosovo;
- Administrative Instruction (MEST) No. 14/2014 Agency of Vocational Education and Training and Adults’ Education (AVETA) in Kosovo;
- Administrative Instruction (MEST) No. 28/2914 on Criteria and Procedures for the Verification of the Occupational Standards.
The main institutions involved in the VET sector include:
- The Ministry of Education Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI);
- Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers;
- National Qualification Authority (NQA);
- Agency for VET and Adult Education (AVETAE);
- Employment Agency of the Republic of Kosovo (EARK);
- Kosovo Chamber of Commerce (KCC);
- VET schools (public and private);
- Vocational Training Centres (public and private);
The main sources of VET financing are the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers (formerly known as Ministry of Finance) and international donors. Funds are allocated at central and municipality levels to:
- Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers which develops policies and strategies for labour, employment and training.
- MESTI, which develops education policies and curricula, including statistics for education.
- Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports develops youth policies and promotes informal education and youth employment.
- Municipalities manage pre-university education with funds from the centre based on parameters as foreseen by the legal provisions.