Enterprises need skilled employees, and young people need to build the right skills. Youth unemployment, combined with a lack of skilled labour among the enterprises, characterises the economic situation in the Western Balkans.
Having that in mind, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development commissioned the funds for the Regional Challenge Fund to KfW Development Bank and chose the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6-CIF), a joint initiative of chambers of commerce from the region, as a key executive partner.
The commissioned funds amount to 18.8 million Euros and are to be disbursed by 2025 through region-wide competition among consortia led by vocational training providers.
The Regional Challenge Fund is a unique financing mechanism that aims to increase the employability of vocational education and training students by reinforcing a cooperative training approach in the economies of the Western Balkans 6: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.
A cooperative or dual training approach involves the business sector throughout the entire process of VET development, implementation, and assessment. It does this by combining vocational institution-based and enterprise-based learning flexibly to develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of future workers. This approach has been proven successful in producing graduates with practical skills that match the demands of the labour market
The Regional Challenge Fund equips vocational training institutes with the machinery and infrastructure they need to train students on the skills enterprises need today. The RCF will fund investments in the equipment and infrastructure that VTIs need to help their students build those skills.
The RCF makes it easy for enterprises to partner with the right vocational training providers to conduct a training program that fits their needs. The result is highly trained employees who are ready to work.
Moreover, the RCF will support capacity building among in-company trainers and mentors, as well as among the teachers. In this way, we will try to encourage work-based learning programs to be aligned with the international cooperative standard practices.
Consortia of vocational training providers and businesses in need of skilled labour are welcome to apply
A consortium should include:
RCF grants will be awarded to VTIs as lead partners of a cooperative training consortium.
The grants are to be used to realize constructions or renovations, purchase equipment or machinery for the VTIs, adapt the teaching materials, or finance capacity building of VTIs and companies.
The grants will amount from 150.000 to 600.000 EUR.