The Regional Challenge Fund support program is aimed at strengthening the relevance of professional education and training on the labor market by financing investments in equipment and infrastructure for training providers who are involved in cooperative or dual education and training activities with partner companies. The fund was created at the initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, delegated to the KfW Development Bank, and is implemented by the Chamber Investment Forum of the Western Balkans as the main implementation partner, which represents a joint initiative of the Chambers of Commerce of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Out of a total of 205 registered projects from six countries of the Western Balkans at the first call of this fund, 23 of the most successful were proposed for financing, of which only one consortium from Montenegro was successful and received the support of the fund for implementation.

It is a project of the Job booster – VET4all consortium, which consists of ETŠ “Vaso Aligrudić”, as a leading partner, IT companies, members of the ICT Cortex cluster (Bild studio, Amplitudo, Data design, Alicorn) as well as the company Mountaineering.

“It was with great pleasure that we received the news about the acceptance of our project! The implementation of this project involves the complete reconstruction of the existing classrooms of our school as part of the common rooms with the mechanical school, the acquisition of new laboratory equipment as well as the equipment necessary for the implementation of practical classes in the educational programs Electronic Communication Infrastructure Installer, Electronic Communications Electrical Technician and Web and Mobile Application Development Electrical Technician. In addition to this, a very important segment of the project implementation is the cooperation with the members of our consortium, which includes the implementation of practical classes at the employer for a total of 86 students, as well as the implementation of the necessary training for our teaching staff, as well as instructors, mentors from the company.” – announced Marina Braletić, project coordinator on behalf of ETŠ “Vaso Aligrudić”

For the representatives of ICT cluster Cortex, who participated in writing this project, this is a significant success and a confirmation that they are moving towards the achievement of one of the main goals – the improvement of the Montenegrin educational system in the field of ICT.

“We believe that with the project we have fully responded to the goal of the call, which is to improve the employability of young people, strengthen the quality of professional education and provide relevant training. With this project, as well as the umbrella education program within the Cortex Academy, we continue to “plant the seeds for a better IT future” and achieve one of the main goals of the Cortex ICT cluster” – added Ferida Mandić, director of the project department of the ICT Cortex cluster, whose members are IT consortium partner companies.

Reconstruction of classrooms, equipping them with state-of-the-art equipment, will be accompanied by the improvement of the teaching program through the introduction of mandatory practical classes in the companies that are members of the consortium. In addition to students, a large number of teaching staff will be involved, which will affect the quality of teaching even after three years of the project.

RCF supports the establishment of consortia between vocational education and training institutions and companies for the implementation of cooperative education and training programs through the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding. To be acceptable, project partners must be ready to engage in joint training activities to train participants based on qualification standards and/or occupational standards that correspond to labor market demand.

The financial support that will be provided by the RCF for the implementation of this project is half a million euros, and the start of the implementation of the project will be in 2022. It is important to note that all funds will be directed to the modernization and equipping of the school, while the members of the consortium will provide mentoring for students, to help students acquire skills aligned with the needs of the labor marke