The selection criteria were: quality of VET provision, number of students in particular sectors, regional distribution of schools, and balanced geographical representation of future centres. In the near future, 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 EUR 130 million from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds will be invested in state-of-the-art equipment for the future centres, boarding rooms for VET students and teachers, expanded opportunities for work-based learning and more successful transition of VET graduates to the 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 programmes to students, as well as professional guidance and continuous professional development and training to professionals, VET teachers and workplace mentors. Main features will include innovative learning opportunities, excellence of teachers and workplace mentors, state-of-the-art facilities, and intensive cooperation with local enterprises and other VET stakeholders.
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, the VET system development programme 2016-20, and the Act on VET 2018 amendments. The future network of centres of competence is a unique opportunity to increase investment in VET in Croatia, encourage cooperation and networking among VET schools, higher education institutions and enterprises, promote quality and innovation in VET, and advance students’ professional and entrepreneurial competencies.