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South Eastern Europe and Turkey


The global economic crisis has had a negative impact on the labour markets of South Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey). The crisis led to a contraction in economic activity, growing informality and declining productivity and competitiveness. Employment rates in the Enlargement countries lag behind the EU average and 2020 benchmarks. They are often affected by a loss of skilled people through migration, despite increased circular migration in recent years. Unemployment is high in all countries, and is disproportionately higher among young people who are affected by a mismatch between education and training outputs and labour market skills needsThe situation has been aggravated by the migration movement Europe currently faces. Policy priorities of the region are circumscribed around two interlinked processes: policy and programme level cooperation between the European Union and the Enlargement countries (i.e. accession negotiations and progress assessment; Economic Reform Programmes; IPA support on human resource development) and the regional cooperation agenda (as it is set forward in the South East Europe 2020 Strategy and reinforced recently in the Vienna Summit Declaration).

Skills development to support socio-economic development and inclusive growth is a priority for all countries of the region. The focus is on shifting from supply driven education and training provision to systems that are more responsive to the needs of learners and the economy as well as the migration Europe currently faces. All countries have a vision for the contribution of skills for competitiveness, entrepreneurship, social inclusion and innovation which complements the broader South East Europe 2020 Strategy. Through the EU-funded Skills for the Future (FRAME) project countries formulated road maps towards their vision for skills thereby moving on from policy formulation to policy implementation.

With substantial support from EU pre-accession funds and other donor contributions, countries work on adapting their governance, reforming their qualifications systems, modernising their curricula and introducing forms of entrepreneurship education, work-based learning and teacher training. Although the countries are at different stages of implementing their policies, they all need further support to enhance their institutional capacity, while reflecting latest political developments in the region and at global level.

Based on the findings of the Torino Process, the FRAME project, the assessment of ERPs 2015, as well as the Bruges Process for the candidate countries, the key priorities for the modernisation of VET in South Eastern Europe and Turkey are to:

  • Proceed with national qualifications framework (NQF) implementation: Countries have conceptualised and designed their qualifications frameworks. The priority is to: (i) populate them with relevant qualifications, including qualifications for adult learning; (ii) improve transition to the labour market from initial VET; (iii) develop mechanisms for non-formal and informal learning; (iv) put into action the referencing processes to the EQF and; (v) strengthen institutional capacities and legislation.
  • Improve the quality of provision and teaching and learning processes: The modernisation of qualifications and training programmes are important for the quality and attractiveness of VET but this goes hand in hand with the modernisation of provision requiring increased investment in education, more emphasis on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning and improved teaching and learning processes. In this respect special attention needs to be given to preparing vocational teachers and trainers to implement modern teaching and learning processes.
  • Ensure implementation and improve the monitoring of policies: Implementation and operationalisation of policies should be supported by relevant policy mechanisms and tools (road-maps, action plans, capacity building etc.). To monitor progress in the implementation of policies, identify strong and weak points and re-adapt actions as appropriate, it is important to have the necessary information and expertise. Further efforts are needed to build the countries’ capacity to use monitoring as an instrument for improving their policy-making processes. For the candidate countries, in particular, it is necessary to explore different options for setting up mechanisms to achieve the EU medium term deliverables.
  • Address skills gaps and mismatches: General understanding exists and steps are being made to improve links between the world of work and education and enhance the responsiveness of skills generation systems to labour market demands. However, there is still a need to better understand the demand for skills in the short and medium-term, transform it into relevant qualifications and training provision, and to guide learners to make better career choices. Countries still lack the institutional setting and the technical capacity to analyse skills demand and feed the results into skills development processes.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.


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