“The AHK can be a mentor for vocational training in Lithuania”

Interview with LINPRA director Gintaras Vilda for the AHK Balt published business magazine “AHKbalt aktuell”. Read full journal online: http://bit.ly/2zkdqBg

Like in Germany, the manufacturing industry in Lithuania is one of its driving forces. Training for qualifications in technical professions is essential. For this reason, the Engineering Industries Association of Lithuania (LINPRA) is advocating vocational training in line with the German model, as Director Gintaras Vilda explains in an interview with AHK Balt aktuell.

 What do you think about the current situation of vocational training in Lithuania?

The number of people starting at vocational training institutions this year indicates a marked positive shift. We’re extremely happy with the great popularity that engineering, manufacturing and industrial professions are already enjoying – they are gaining the day in terms of pupils’ career aspirations this year. However, we’re still seeing just how important it is to promote and standardise dual vocational training in Lithuania. This type of training is most effective and helps to supply the economy with highly qualified workers over the long term.

What do companies need to take into account when offering vocational training?

The cornerstone of an effective apprenticeship for employers is having a certain sense of responsibility. This is the only way they’ll feel the sense of duty necessary to ensure the training process is successful and play a hands-on role in vocational training. Employers will then be in the position to help make decisions on how the vocational training network can be managed effectively, how professional standards can be better integrated and how training schemes that meet industry expectations can be implemented.

You travelled to Germany a few months ago to find out about the dual training system following an invitation from the German Embassy. How are Germany and Lithuania different?

 In Germany, the companies themselves are more closely involved in vocational training than in Lithuania. Not only do they train the young people, they also pay them for the whole period. They therefore support a young person in two ways, but they also help themselves by passing specific knowledge onto their up-and-coming talent. In Lithuania, people have had the ideas for this system but no suitable model has been found or, rather, no fitting framework. And then there’s the fact that dual training has a long history in Germany and forms an integral part of its education culture.

How would you rate the role played by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Germany compared to Lithuania?

 The role is very important! The Chambers of Industry and Commerce – IHKs – are essential partners for vocational training in Germany. They act as intermediaries between the companies and schools and set the various careers that can be learned. With these standards, the IHKs ensure an even and comparable level of quality for all the training pathways in the exams that they set. The “IHKcertified” tag is a seal of quality. I think that, particularly in Lithuania too, there should be a more rigorous assessment of whether the companies are actually prepared – and by that I mean qualified and equipped – to provide training. Uniform standards need to be put in place for training content and the trainers have to have the necessary skills. This is the only way to ensure that the dual training is high-quality. I can envisage Lithuanian associations such as LINPRA and the German Baltic Chamber of Commerce – AHK – working together to define these standards and roll them out nationwide in the future.

A new Lithuanian Education Act is currently being prepared. In what ways can Lithuania learn from Germany in this process?

Lithuanian legislation definitely needs to set out what qualities companies have to bring to the table before they can begin to provide training. The new law will be able to establish the model and framework that I mentioned earlier, which will allow vocational training in the country to meet the required quality standard. The law must establish what content the training is to teach so that various different companies can provide training independently from one another. This is the only way to guarantee that a mechatronics engineer trained in Kaunas can work in a company in Klaipėda or Marijampole without any issues, for example.

The AHK is a global mediator for dual training. Where do you see potential in the cooperation for Lithuania?

 I think that the AHK can be a mentor for vocational training in Lithuania. It is important to always consider the characteristics of the Lithuanian job market, its companies and its education system. At the same time, the AHK contributes lessons learned from Germany and the rest of the world. This can only be beneficial to us and help us develop the best for Lithuania through our joint efforts.