The Private Sector Youth Initiative Presented at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb

07.02.2017.

Zagreb, 6th of February 2017 – The Private Sector Youth Initiative (PSYI) of the Croatian Employers Association (HUP) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in cooperation with private companies, professional associations of women and academic institutions was presented today at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb. The organizing partners for the initiative were the Faculty of Electronics and Computer Science in Osijek, the Council of Students and the British consulting firm People 1st.
This initiative will allow students to have a professional internship during their studies and reflects the joint effort of educational institutions and employers in recognizing the importance of solving the problem of mismatched skills among young people and expanding economic opportunities for women during the transition toward a competitive, market-oriented economy.

The presentation was opened by Nataša Novaković, Advisor to the Director for the Labor Market and the Development of Human Resources in HUP. Together with Karlo Kolesar, President of the Council of Students, she made a presentation that explained in detail the procedure for registering employers, students, and faculties for internships and clarified the selection criteria and the internship program itself. Internships will be available to all students whose faculties are included in the initiative. At present, more than 30 higher education institutions, more than 100 companies, and more than 500 internship positions have been included in the initiative, but judging by the level of current interest, these numbers will certainly increase. The standard duration of student internships in the project will be at least six weeks and at most six months, which will ensure quality and meet the highest standards based on European Union criteria. After a faculty carries out its selection, employers will choose those students who in their opinion will derive the greatest benefit from working in their company and they will provide them a mentor – a person who will monitor the development and growth of students during their internship. "It is not our goal to ‘throw young people into the fire’ and to leave them with no professional leadership. The main task of this initiative is to provide quality education with work in a professional internship, and that is only possible with a mentor who will constantly be available to students in the company and who will provide them with information about what is expected from them and to evaluate a student's work and progress," stated Nataša Novaković.

The second part of the event was a panel discussion entitled "How to Prepare A Student for the Labor Market" that included Marija Felkel, a member of the board and the Director of Human Resources at Croatia Telekom d.d.; Božidar Jaković, Assistant Dean for Instruction, Students and Quality Management at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb; Karlo Kolesar, President of the Council of Students of Colleges in Croatia and Monika Kordić, Director, Genius Consulting d.o.o. The discussion was moderated by Nataša Novaković, HUP.

The panel discussed experiences that employers have had with a variety of internships in their companies and their personal experiences as students at a time when internships were a rarity. Monika Kordić of Genius Consulting spoke about the internships of two students (Luka and Sanja) in her company and their positive experiences. The students had the opportunity to agree with their faculty (EFZG) on the timing of their internships and to coordinate them with the schedule for lectures, which was of significant help to them. These were the first internships under the Private Sector Youth Initiative. They were organized through direct communication between HUP, the faculties, and the companies. Because of the great response, this type of organization will not be feasible in the future and registration for internships will now be made via an interactive web page (inicijativazamlade.hup.hr). Marija Felkel, HT emphasized what is important to her as an employer when hiring young people and what kind of skills are expected from them. "Preparation through the development of soft skills is especially important if students have never made a Power Point presentation during their studies and have not made a presentation in front of their colleagues. Of course, when it comes to a working environment, they will not know how to make one and will have to have special training in order to learn these communication skills. I think that most of what students will need later in the area of soft skills can be provided through an internship program, and it will certainly help them in a new job when they will quickly be included in the business process."

It is expected that the initiative will have several direct benefits for Croatia because it will resolve the significant shortcomings in the area of including young people in regard to the employment of young people and the mismatch of skills, based on the strategy of the country and the potential influence on their inclusion in the region, the creation of opportunities for student internships throughout the country, and providing a framework for student internships based on the best international practices.

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