Under the mentorship of 400 VET teachers and trainers, 405 IVET students competed in 46 skills competitions over 3 days in a simulated working environment spanning across 16 000 m² at the Zagreb fair. The skills competitions involved traditional VET occupations, such as hairdressing, brick-laying, patisserie and floristry, as well as high-tech competitions related to the digital economy, covering areas like system administration, CNC and CAD-CAM technologies and robotics. The WorldSkills Croatia competition showcased the talent and skills of IVET students, encouraging them to upskill and strive for professional excellence. Additionally, it highlighted the importance of VET teachers and schools in delivering quality education and learning experiences.
The main objectives of the WorldSkills Croatia competition were to strengthen ties between VET schools, companies, and employers, encouraging investment in training and upskilling, improving employability of VET graduates, and raising awareness of companies’ accountability regarding learning outcomes in VET. Two-thirds of all VET schools in Croatia participated in the competition, with 28 VET schools hosting the competition and ensuring the necessary supplies and logistics. The organisation of the event was made possible thanks to a strong partnership between education and labour market stakeholders, including the Ministry of Science and Education, the Croatian Employment Service, the City of Zagreb and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts. Additionally, 42 companies supported the event through in-kind donations offering equipment, consumables and awards for competitors. The international dimension of the WorldSkills competition was underpinned by competitors from Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Germany and Montenegro, alongside visiting delegations from Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
WorldSkills Croatia also served as a platform for showcasing the diversity of occupations and labour market opportunities available for VET graduates, aiming to raise visibility and promote the attractiveness of VET and VET-related occupations as a labour-market-relevant career choice. Further, this initiative aligns with the objectives of the European Year of Skills, contributing to the broader goal of promoting skills and enhancing the recognition of vocational education and training. Continuous promotional efforts are necessary to maintain high participation in IVET in Croatia (70% in 2021) and respond to labour market needs, and highlight the value of VET for the economy. As part of the promotion of VET at the WorldSkills Croatia competition, primary school learners, their parents, and employers were identified as the main target groups. Within the framework of the competitions, the Croatian Employment Service organised career guidance workshops for primary school pupils. Moreover, each competition featured ‘Try-your-skill’ activities allowing visitors to learn practical skills related to specific occupations. As a result, the event attracted over 5 000 visitors, including 1 100 primary school pupils from across the country. Additionally, a nationwide announcement campaign for the WorldSkills Croatia competition further promoted the attractiveness of VET as a career choice.