With returning economic growth in recent years, companies in the Czech Republic have been facing a shortage of skilled labour. Labour supply does not match demand on the labour market and the practical skills of graduates entering the labour market are often insufficient.
These are the reasons for the growing desire for closer connection between the corporate world and VET. Employers and VET school representatives are seeking greater cooperation, as in the agreement concluded between the key representatives of the employers (Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, Czech Agrarian Chamber and Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Associations of the Czech Republic) on allocating responsibility for individual areas of initial vocational education. These organisations have shared responsibility for particular fields of education. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MŠMT) is also active, having prepared reform in the Amendment of the School Act, by which the schools are obliged to improve cooperation with employers.
In line with the Act, employers, at present, are involved in several lines of action: negotiations on the National programme for the development of education; the draft of the Long-term plan for education and the development of education system of the Czech Republic; the field structure in primary, secondary and tertiary VET and the health requirements for persons applying for education; and negotiations related to national VET curricula ().
Employer involvement in VET is embedded in the School Act in several areas: the option to implement practical training at their premises; inclusion in the development of uniform assignment of final examinations for vocational certificate fields; mandatory participation of an expert from practice in the examination board for the programmes concluded by a vocational certificate (three-year study programmes, EQF 3); and optional participation of an expert from practice at the profile part of Maturita examination (four-year study programmes, EQF 4) and at absolutorium (tertiary professional education, EQF 6).
The amendment to the Act relates to §57, which, up to now, has set objectives for secondary education without explicitly mentioning cooperation with employers. The amendment obliges schools to develop, in their field of study, cooperation with employers towards joint fulfilment of secondary education objectives. Schools will now have to involve employers in the education by:
- consulting employers on drafts of school curricula;
- engaging employers in shaping conceptual plans for school development;
- ensuring part of practical training is implemented at the premises of employers authorised to perform activities related to the relevant field of education;
- allowing participation of experts from practice in theoretical training at school;
- allowing participation of experts from practice in the profile part of maturita examination;
- securing, in cooperation with the employers, continuing education and internships for teaching staff of theoretical and practical training at employers ().
These activities are already being implemented by many schools and employers. The amendment should be viewed as a step towards systematisation and an effort to extend these activities also to schools that have not been exploiting them to their full potential. The proposal also puts emphasis on greater involvement of individual employers at regional and local levels.
() Based on the national curricula designed by the State, the schools create their own curricula for each field of study offered. In line with the development plan for the particular school, the curriculum shall reflect the educational conditions in the school as well as educational needs and specific features of the regional labour market.
() See the Amendment 841/3 to the Chamber of Deputies publication No 841, which includes the reform of regional education funding https://www.psp.cz/sqw/historie.sqw?o=7&t=841. The Amendment is expected to be approved in the course of 2017.