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Changes in Crafts Act strengthening the quality assurance of apprenticeship and work-based learning in Croatia

For over 20 years, the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts nourishes the quality of vocational education and training for trades and crafts. For a very long time, the Chamber had numerous public authorities while craftsmen were actively engaged in implementing and promoting the quality of vocational education and training for trades and crafts.

In 2013, the changes of Crafts Act created the disbalance between the world of labour and education. The existing unified model education for associated crafts (known as JMO) was very closely modeled to the EU guidelines for the development of VET, which acquired a very high grade for the VET in Croatia during the negotiations for joining the EU. However, the abovementioned changes transferred the biggest part of responsibilities from the economic sector to the education sector. Therefore, due the lack of balanced division of responsibilities based on the partnership between the economy and education, the quality of apprenticeship was lowered.

However, taking into consideration its aim to develop the dual model of education based on good practices from European countries, the Croatian Government amended the Crafts Act in 2019 and all changes will get in force from January 2020 improving the quality of apprenticeship in Croatia.

Again, the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts has the responsibility to conduct journeyman's exams, which have been renamed into apprenticeship exams. It was necessary to change the name in order to change the perception of the exam. Due its name, the exam was perceived as a lower kind of education because it was associated with assisting occupation. The purpose of apprenticeship exam is mandatory examination of practical and theoretical skills and knowledges in front of the independent committee (the student will take an exam before independent teachers and mentors from crafts and companies). The student will be required to make a simpler practical work and committee will assess it. The committee will be named by the VET school and the Chamber. In this way, the balance between economy and education will be restored and the quality of apprenticeship exams will be raised.

Furthermore, in order to ensure the maximal influence from the economy on matching qualifications with the labour market needs, the ministry responsible for economy and crafts will have the responsibility to develop occupational curricula for crafts qualifications. Also, the ministry will provide the approval for enrolment plans in crafts occupations, which will secure the direct influence from the economy on the enrolment policy and matching the labour market needs.

The ministry responsible for the economy will develop the programme for educating mentors in crafts and companies, and the Chamber of Trades and Crafts and the Chamber of Economy will be responsible for its implementation, which will increase the possibility to license their crafts and companies and take apprentices. The exam will be conducted by the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.

It is expected that the implementation of mentioned changes will remove current limits for the further development of quality in VET for crafts occupations, which is represents the Croatian variation of the „dual model of education“.

Also, since the raising of the quality of VET for crafts is a very important element of Chamber's everyday work, the participation in Erasmus+ projects such as Bequal.app is another way to achieve this aim. The project aim is to develop the quality assurance in apprenticeship and other work-based learning forms in project countries by promoting the benchmarking culture, measuring quality indicators and connecting VET providers and employers.

Best regards,
Zoran Varga
Hrvatska obrtnička komora