Second National Grant Award Ceremony in Serbia
Five most successful projects from Serbia are being proposed for financing in the Second call of the Regional Challenge Fund, allocating approximately 2,34 million Euros for the investments in equipment, infrastructure and training at the vocational training institutes implementing cooperative training. The next public call will be published on May 22 offering new funding opportunities for Serbian educational institutions that partner with companies.
May 8, 2023, Belgrade – The Regional Challenge Fund (RCF) organised the Second National Grant Award Ceremony in Serbia to share the Second call results and award the grants to winning consortia.
The second round of applications attracted 123 Expressions of Interest in six countries from Western Balkan (WB6). Out of this number, 19 EoIs were received from Serbia. The Selection Committee’s decision about the funds available for the second call resulted in the 5 most successful projects from Serbia, led by educational institutions, secondary schools, faculties, and academies of professional studies in partnership with companies. They will receive support in the total value of up to 2.34 million euros for the purchase of equipment and infrastructure works, as well as the training of their staff.
The five projects that are proposed for financing are the consortiums led by The Academy of Applied Technical and Preschool Studies and Faculty Of Mechanical Engineering from Niš, The Secondary School of Mechanical Engineering, Transport And Traffic and Faculty Of Technical Sciences in Čačak and consortium from Belgrade, led by Traffic Technical School, Zemun. Mechanical engineering and metal processing is the most dominant sector among awarded projects.
The Regional Challenge Fund promotes the relevance of vocational education and training on the labour market by financing investments in equipment and infrastructure of educational institutions that closely cooperate with companies to strengthen vocational and dual education and through public bidding.
The Award Ceremony took place in Belgrade, hotel Metropole Palace, and gathered officials from the Western Balkan 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6 CIF), Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Serbia, the German Embassy, KfW Development Bank, Office for Dual Education, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Regional Challenge Fund and the awarded consortia from Serbia, to mark the success.
Mr. Mihailo Vesovic, Director of the Division for Strategic Analyses, Services and Internationalisation, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Serbia, said that the Chamber would continue to support activities of the Regional Challenge Fund as the implementation partner of their projects: „We will continue to work on promoting the Fund to increase the response to the next, third public call by new consortia and thereby providing modern conditions for acquiring knowledge and skills in cooperation between the education sector and the economy. Considering the importance of green skills, digitization and circular economy in modern business conditions, the Chamber of Commerce invites all employers whose focus is on the mentioned topics to apply in cooperation with schools to the Fund’s third public call“, he said.
Mr. Christian Schilling, Head of the Development Cooperation, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Serbia, pointed out that with the Regional Challenge Fund for Vocational Education and Training, the German Government is aiming to enhance employability of VET students in the Western Balkans region and competitiveness of the companies. He said that 16 projects from Serbia had been awarded approximately 6.5 million euros, adding that beyond the financing figures, the mobilisation of the schools and enterprises into the consortia for the application is highly impressive and gives hope for further synergies from these established partnerships.
Ms Gabrijela Grujic, PHD, Director of the Office for Dual Education and NQF, thanked all the participants and donors for the project, underlining that the equipment donation will modernise education in Serbia. “With such projects, we combine traditional and modern education, but raising awareness among youth that it is necessary to strengthen team spirit is even more important than opportunities for gaining knowledge. Working on new equipment, they will learn together and master new professional skills, as well as share good energy and creativity. I believe that they will share knowledge, positive thoughts, directions and creativity with younger ones. I believe in a team of young people and I will continue to advocate even more vigorously for the platform where modern education and traditional upbringing values are networked as a new energy of Serbia”, said Director Grujic.
Mr. Balsa Culafic, Project Coordinator, Western Balans 6 Chamber Investment Forum, CIF, underlined that CIF as an implementation partner would support the realization of the selected joint projects between VTIs and enterprises and expressed his expectation that these will be followed by additional projects to be selected in future calls. He expressed his gratitude for the second national grant award ceremony in Serbia. He stated that CIF represents 350,000 companies, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, opening up new opportunities for stronger networking among the business community in the region. The WB6 CIF is to support implementing these projects, hopefully followed by newly selected projects in the future.
The participants invited all educational institutions to respond to the next public call, which will be published on May 22 offering new funding opportunities for Serbian educational institutions that partner with companies.
The Regional Challenge Fund (RCF) is a financing facility designed to increase youth employability and boost the competitiveness of enterprises in Western Balkan 6 by funding investments in selected cooperative training projects that are implemented through partnerships between vocational training institutes and enterprises. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development commissioned 64.43 million EUR for the RCF and the Swiss Government, represented by the SDC Swiss Development Cooperation, co-financed an additional 9.7 million CHF. The funds were commissioned to the KfW Development Bank and executed by the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6-CIF), a joint initiative of chambers of commerce from the region. The Fund is managed by an implementing consultant.