The COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge to Albania’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system, causing it to shift rapidly toward the usage of ICT-based learning solutions. Due to the change of learning and teaching behavior during the pandemic, for “Skills for Jobs” (S4J) project it was important to keep the momentum and continue working toward the improvement of the learning process. For this reason, S4J hosted the roundtable “Achievement and challenges: VET during and after the pandemic” on the 6th of December 2021 to kick off the discussion on the digitalization of VET system in Albania. Representatives from the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth, vocational education and training agencies, organizations and companies, as well as national and international teaching experts gathered to discuss the lessons learned and the innovative solutions in response to the emergency remote learning, and the need for modernization and digitalization of the VET system in Albania.
The discussion was led by the findings of the study: “Evaluation of the teaching process in vocational schools, the school year 2020-2021”, a study supported by the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Qualifications (NAVETQ) and S4J. The study was conducted in all public vocational education institutions in Albania in order to better understand how the pandemic affected schools and teachers, as well as the challenges encountered by vocational education providers. The findings of the study presented at the roundtable were deemed significant, and they might play a leading role in policy-making decisions regarding continuous professional development of teachers, as well as the establishment of high-quality educational offer for students. To this regard, Ms. Ejvis Gishti, the director of NAVETQ, stated that the time has come to reflect all together, using all possible resources, on how we can continue to contribute to improving the quality of education, through digitalization of vocational education.
Mr. Urs Grohbiel, Director of the Swiss Network for Innovation in Education, brought a global perspective of digitalization in education, and spoke on educational innovation, lessons learned, and triumphs in the context of the pandemic as a whole. He highlighted that the usage of e-Learning platforms should not be limited to a single field, such as ICT, or just as a repository of digital teaching materials, but it has to be considered as an integral part of the learning process, because it can be appealing to students, motivate them and boost their interactivity. Pedagogical competencies are not the only skills required for a good teaching experience; in recent years, digital skills have grown increasingly important. As a result, teacher’s capacity building for digital skills has become a constant necessity and priority. In order to begin digitalization in education, it is equally important to provide the right environment and infrastructure.
The roundtable served as a springboard toward the digitalization of the VET in Albania. As the need for a more formal intervention became apparent during the discussions, every stakeholder is now committed to contributing to make the digitalization of VET system a success by bringing their diverse perspectives and experiences to the process. Everyone’s contributions to improving the learning experience, by using the technology in the classroom and integrating new ways of leaning, is crucial to shifting society’s perception on the VET system and making it a primary choice for Albania’s youth.
Moreover, implementing digitalization into the VET system could considerably help students in making a smooth transition into the labor market.