Establishing Inter-Company Training Centres (MIC) as organisational units of Professional / Vocational School Centers, based on Vocational Education Act (2006)

MICs are organisational units od educational institutions for cooperation with world of work (Medpodjetniški izobraževalni centri). They were established on the basis of Vocational Education Act (UL 79/06, article 32) and currently operate within 20 Slovene larger School Centres, majority of which including Vocational Colleges (EQF5) as well, covering different professional / vocational fields.

After establishment these units MICs were very well equipped through several EU tenders (financed by Social, Regional Development and Cohesion Funds) in order to serve their mission, which is: to provide part of practical training for students, preparation of candidates for master craftsmen, foremen and managerial examinations, carrying out procedures for the verification and certification of national vocational qualifications, performing the practical part of final exams and the vocational general exam (matura) at secondary level, but mostly to become a link between professional education, regional labour market and other social partners.

Throughout the years many School Centres (especially those embedding HVC units) developed their MICs into very successful departments, well related to regional strategic development, by taking active part and initiatives in many projects introduced by municipalities, employment offices (tailored courses for different users, pre-qualification courses for companies or unemployed citizens, offering their premises, up-to-date equipment and teaching staff on the regional market and thus getting additional financial resources), regardless of whether the School Centres are public or private.

    


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Impact

What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?

The best practice case addresses challenges of becoming more flexible / responsive to regional learning needs and tackles legislation and institutional policy, contributing to: opportunities for developing new programs, engagements of experts from region, collaboration between PHEIs and different levels of education, more LLL opportunities for regional needs, incentives to PHEIs (infrastructure, equipment available for regional needs).
Since their establishment MICs developed some as average and some as very successful units among both public and private school centres. Possessing a MIC within a school center doesn´t guaranty any special advantage unless PEI and PHEI are capable to map and mobilise their specific potentials and use their level of autonomy to form a complex institutional strategy followed by concrete action plans. Very important are managerial capabilities of leadership, involvements of different stakeholders interests, regardless of whether the PHI is public or private.

Success Factors

What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?

MIC needs to form a proper vision and developmental strategy, needs to have a certain autonomy as an institutional unit to be able to put its vision and strategy into practice. Leadership and staff is crucial for success, then the ability to mobilize different stakeholders when needed and the flexibility to respond promptly to frequently changing regional and corporate needs.

Constraints

What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?

Especially in public MICs the limiting factor could be lack or insufficient motivation in marketing thinking and proactivity.

Feasibility & Sustainability

What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?

The total investments into the system of MICs in Slovenia comprised 36 million € (funded by ERDF with 15% of Slovene contribution), corporate sector also contributed intensively into the equipment.
Due to such an investment it is important to assure the sustainability of this practice. In order to do that, there has to be established the regular cost benefit assessment procedure within the institution and on national level. It is already legally abiding for MICs as organizational units to prepare and present their annual work-plans and financial plans to the institutional boards and to the Ministry, followed by reports as well.

Replicability & Upscaling

What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?

We could say that the sustainable number and distribution of MICs in Slovenia have been achieved, but it is crucial to constantly work on upscaling and development of the system, making it adaptable to changed conditions and flexible to different regional and industry needs. In order to support this development, it would be good to create and support practice-exchanging networks both on national and international levels and develop such a legislation to make a different pace of development and different levels/forms of autonomy of MICs possible if needed in comparison to the established solutions of similar systems in other EU countries (etc. IOT-Ireland, UIT-France).

Lessons learned

What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?

Since we can find different levels and forms of success related to MIC units within School Centres, regardless of the field, professional scope or whether they are private or public, it seems that the most important success factors are managerial capabilities of leadership and their potential to mobilise and use the creativity and within current level of autonomy involve different stakeholders interests to form a complex institutional strategy followed by concrete action plans.

Context

Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)

School Centres operations and establishment are subject of regulation of Organisation and Financing Education Act (Link to translated resources): http://www.mizs.gov.si/fileadmin/mizs.gov.si/pageuploads/ANG/Organisation_and_Financing_of_Education_Act_Oct_2016.pdf.
Ministry of Education, Science and Sport currently (since the last governmental elections) covers all vertical of educational sector (from kindergarten to higher education and all forms of tertiary education), but in previous terms the sectors were divided into two ministries, covering PHE within Universities and Independent HEIs and HVC separately (link to translated resources): http://www.mizs.gov.si/en/areas_of_work/.