VIRTUAL technology can improve the level of skills, opportunities and employability among students from the VET sector

On December 7, 2023, representatives from CEFE Macedonia, together with the partners of the VIRTUAL project, held a meeting for the evaluation and planning of the phases of the project.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the successful implementation of the project and to coordinate the execution of the first phase of the work, which consists of:

  • examination of the current and expected demand on the labor market for workers in the tourism and food services sector
  • with particular attention to identifying the types of professional skills that employers are looking for and are likely to be in demand in the future,
  • and then matching them with the offer of V.I.R.Tu.A.L.

So, especially given the impact of the Covid crisis on the tourism sector and the difficulty in accessing workplace learning experiences for young people involved in VET. The vision of the project is that technology can improve the level of skills, opportunities and employability of students from the VET sector.

The VIRTUAL project aims to improve the level of competencies, skills and employment potential among vocational education students (VET sector) through new and innovative educational programs in the field of tourism (hospitality and restaurants), specifically by applying innovative technology such as is virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and simulators in VET institutions from the Western Balkans. This is popularly called Education 4.0.

The main objectives of the project are:

  • To develop teaching methodologies using technology and/or ICT tools and to develop the ability of teachers to incorporate digital technologies into teaching;
  • To equip students with competencies to use and access tools, software and platforms;
  • To increase the interaction between teachers and students with the help of technologies;
  • To increase the level of understanding while reducing the comprehension time and effort required for students to learn information using 3D concepts instead of 2D;
  • To establish bridges of cooperation between the tourism industry and trainers as a means of ensuring the correct use of Education 4.0 at the Vocational Educational Institutions from the Western Balkans.

This project will produce the following results as a new value:

  • Interactive map of dual education and training. This will show the situation for tourism resources in institutions for vocational education and training from the Western Balkans;
  • A flexible digital toolkit capable of displaying content through augmented and virtual reality technologies;
  • Guidelines for digital teaching methodology (Education 4.0) to be used by trainers/teachers to implement this innovative educational approach;
  • Signed Memorandum of Understanding between partners and other entities outside the project to formalize cooperation and communication between centers for vocational education and training in the field of tourism.

The consortium chosen to implement the V.I.R.Tu.A.L project is composed of complementary, experienced and professional organizations relevant to the project and its topic.

The partnership represents the following perspectives and experiences that are relevant and necessary for the development of the project:

(a) VET providers, also with specific expertise in the analysis of the system of professions (TUCHEP – Italy, Professional College Tirana – Albania, European Educational Initiative – Albania, University of Business and Technologies – Kosovo;

(b) Organizations engaged in promoting experiential learning and entrepreneurial competencies (CEFE Macedonia)

(c) Technology Organizations (ARTES Italy)

The project is implemented by 6 partners from Albania, Italy, Kosovo and Macedonia.

This project starts following the recommendation of the Vocational Education and Training Council for Sustainable Competitiveness, Social Equity and Resilience from December 2020:

  • There has been a dramatic decline in the number of apprenticeship training places and this implies a lack of training opportunities for young people, which may also lead to an intensification of skilled labor shortages in some areas in the medium term.
  • In addition to the creation of a common EU platform for vocational education and training, the development of virtual reality simulation systems and other digital tools for vocational education and training with the help of research projects and test phases are recommended.
  • The disruption of Vocational Education and Training (VET) provision caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant educational and social impact on VET students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, and presents difficult challenges for students who work best under direct guidance and in the presence of a teacher

Duration of the project: 1.01.2023 – 31.12.2025

VIRTUAL is co-financed by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission, through the key action 2 – capacity building in vocational education, with a focus on the partnerships of the countries of the Western Balkans and the European Union.