Ana Grujović – SSCC’s growth: increasing the network of institutional partners

Finding high-quality workers still remains to be challenging for many companies, and especially for small and medium-sized enterprises

The 2020 will mark the sixth year of SSCC’s work. Ana Grujović, Executive Director of SSCC, talks about further plans, dual education and the recently concluded conference.

According to the assessment of Switzerland Global Enterprise, its cooperation with the SSCC is in the top three among all Swiss bilateral chambers worldwide. How much does this result mean to you?

– It is a well known fact that Switzerland is one of the world’s most competitive economies and that cooperation with
Swiss institutions, companies and any other type of organization requires a high level of quality, reliability and professionalism. We were very honored to be recognized as one of Switzerland Global Enterprise partners worldwide three years ago and to gain their trust and partnership as well. Being listed in the top three among all Swiss bilateral chambers is a proof of our successfull connection and regular exchange of information with S-GE.  This can only inspire us to strive to further enhance the cooperation with our partner from Switzerland in order to enable companies from both Switzerland and Serbia to develop new business projects and find potential business partners.

What were all your activities during 2019?

– In 2019, we continued to organize events exclusive to SSCC members, such as Members’ Reunions and Expert meetings. Many of SSCC members were happy to host these events in their own premises, so we visited many companies, such as SR Technics, Zuhlke Engeneering, Roche and Nestle production facilities in Surčin as well. One of the first events this year was the traditional Fondue event which was hosted by H.E. Phillipe Guex, Swiss Ambassador to Serbia. The Swiss Cheese Fondue event was held in the Swiss Residence in Belgrade in January, when SSCC members had an opportunity to discuss directly with representatives of the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Cooperation Office. This year also marks the beginning of SSCC’s cooperation with Swiss bilateral chambers from the region as we have welcomed our colleagues from the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce this April in Belgrade. At the same, there were many events co-organized with business associations in Serbia, such as the International Networking Cocktail, Speed Business Meetings, Networking cocktail at the Kopaonik Business Forum. Furthermore, we are continuing with the practice of keeping our members updated about the current legislative changes in Serbia. For example, the seminar Serbian GDPR – new rights and obligations, organized in cooperation with SSCC member ’’Law Office Joksovic, Stojanovic and Partners’’ received excellent fedeback from SSCC membership.

The chamber’s focus has been on dual education for some time. In what segments do you see progress, and in which more work still needs to be done?

– Following the Board’s decision, SSCC’s focus on the topic of dual education continues in 2019. Our highlight event, the annual Conference, emphasized the importance of the private sector companies’ role in the development and implementation of the dual education system. The Conference was taking place during the Week of Dual Education in Serbia, October 21-25, 2019. We were very proud to welcome our guests of honor from Switzerland, Dr. Ursula Renold, Head of Division Comparative Education System Research, ETH Zurich, and Mr. Arthur Glattli, Managing Director, Swissmem VET. They presented the Swiss VET system and more particulary, was explain how Swiss employers’ organizations and industry associations contribute to shaping the VET program according to market needs. From my point of view, this is the question that deserves more attention and clarification.

How relevant is the issue of the availability of high-quality workers among your members?

– Today, the knowledge economy demands that young people need sophisticated skills. Many of these skills can be gained only throughout apprenticeships and internships inside the companies. Finding high-quality workers still remains to be challenging for many companies, and especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In order to enable SSCC members to overcome this challenge successfully and get involved in the dual education process in Serbia, we organized the Expert meeting this September with Dr. Gabrijela Grujić, Assistant Minister for Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, and Mrs. Mirjana Kovačević.
Director at Education Division, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as our guests of honor. The meeting discussion focused on explaining all the steps needed to start a company’s engagement in the dual education process in Serbia: the accreditation procedure, instructors’ training, students’ placement in firms, etc. Also, this meeting allowed to share experiences and best practices among companies regarding this matter.

You have also used a survey to gauge the level of satisfaction among CCSS members in the Chamber and its work. What kind of feedback did you receive from members?

– The fifth consecutive ‘’SSCC Business Climate Survey in Serbia 2019’’ was conducted among the members of the Swiss-Serbian business community in April 2019. Most of the survey respondents evaluated the current business climate in Serbia as satisfying. Also, the results showed that majority of surveyed companies expect to see changes in the following business environment areas: public institutions’ efficiency and administrative procedures, fight against corruption, as well as ensuring legal security and stability.

What are your plans for 2020? Will the focus continue on dual education?

– The 2020 will mark the sixth year of SSCC’s work. The plan of activities will follow the needs and interests of SSCC member-companies. We will continue on focusing on the further strenghtening of the SSCC membership, gaining new members, developing new initiatives and on expanding SSCC’s network of institutional partners as well.

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