The "Prilike" initiative helps students to choose their professions

Choosing a profession and planning a career is a major decision for most secondary school students.

UNICEF Montenegro
UNICEF Crna Gora / Duško Miljanić / 2017
01 February 2017

PODGORICA, 1 February 2017 – Choosing a profession and planning a career is a major decision for most secondary school students. The total of 500 students from Montenegro got a chance to clear some of their dilemmas by participating to the “Prilike” pilot initiative, designed by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education as a youth information service.

Within the framework of this initiative, students from eight secondary schools in Montenegro visited companies operating in telecommunication, energy, finance, services, trade and IT sectors, learning first-hand about their desired professions and the labour market conditions.

Talking to employers from over 50 companies operating in Montenegro helped students make choices about their future professions.

After the pilot initiative, students feel more self-confident about their lives. They have a better knowledge about jobs and salaries. Students also show greater interest in internships and learning from the Center for Information and Professional Counseling. On the other hand, employers now have a better impression of adolescents and their capabilities. Cumulatively, this will result in a more active workforce.

Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative for Montenegro

He said that at the final conference within the “Prilike” pilot initiative, jointly implemented by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with eight secondary schools in Montenegro.

Students who had the opportunity to see while visiting selected companies which skills are needed for specific jobs say it is now easier for them to choose their future occupations.

One of them is Marija Knezevic, a student of the final year in the general secondary school 'Slobodan Skerovic', who had the opportunity of visiting the Ernst & Young, and learning about the kind of work done by the staff of the Red Cross of Montenegro.

Vasilija Sarovic for the secondary school
UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017
Vasilija Sarovic for the secondary school "Mirko Vesovic" suggests that students should get a chance to spend more time in companies

My interests go more towards IT and it is very interesting that I had the opportunity of visiting a humanitarian sector, so different from sciences. Now I see such jobs as my Plan B, an alternative in my career. The best of all is that here I could combine one thing that I have always liked, the IT, with humanitarian work, for instance by doing the web design for such organisations.

Marija, a Gymnasium student

Within the “Prilike” initiative, her peer Sanja Crvenica also visited the Red Cross and decided to become their volunteer.

Sanja says that talking to employers only confirmed her desire to study law.

It will be Law School. Although I planned to study abroad, given that studying law doesn’t make much sense except in one’s own country, I will probably stay here. At least this year.

Sanja, a Gymnasium student

The senior year student from the secondary vocational school of economy “Mirko Vesovic” Vasilija Sarovic says this initiative helped him narrow down the choices of his future occupation. He believes this support service for students should continue and offer young people a chance to learn the details of certain professions.

I have many interests, like sports, politics, literature and I couldn’t make up my mind about what to study. Two months before graduation I still don’t know which way to go. This programme narrowed down my choices from nine to three or four areas of interest. It would be ideal to have a programme offering the opportunity to secondary school students to spend between a week and a month in a company. To see the upsides and downsides, and decide whether we would like it to be our profession someday, whether we really like that job or is it just a whim.

Vasilija, a secondary vocational school of economy student

Suada Muratović, PR manager at the Merkator International, one of the 56 companies that gave an opportunity to students to learn about their preferred jobs, agrees with him.

"Maybe three or four students a day to go through all departments and see whether that is what they truly want and whether they would pursue their careers in such a type of activity. We believe it should have lasted longer, but given the pilot project design, it was a success and both parties involved, students and employers, are satisfied", says Muratović.

Montenegro’s national power utility company, EPCG, whose facilities were visited by students from Berane and Podgorica, is also willing to continue with such cooperation.

Sanja Crvenica from the general secondary school 'Slobodan Skerovic'
UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2017
Sanja Crvenica from the general secondary school 'Slobodan Skerovic' became a Red Cross volunteer thanks to the "Prilike" initiative

"I think visits should last longer so that they could see all parts of our company", says Miloš Konatar from EPCG, who got a glimpse of the future labour force through the “Prilike” initiative.

Even the two-hour job viewings gave excellent results, as confirmed by the survey done among the employers who joined the initiative conducted within the framework of the joint UN initiative Creactivation. 

Namely, 39 per cent of respondents from the companies state their opinion of student competences has improved after the job viewings, while 15 per cent said that there are more chances now for them to hire secondary school graduates in the next six months.

Veljko Tomić from the Ministry of Education believes that such successful cooperation between businesses and schools is indicative of the importance of practical learning. Thus, he expects the improvements to the “Prilike” initiative will help young people to better choose their future careers.

"Studies show that the students who saw real work environments during their schooling stand greater chance of finding a job, even set up their own business. Job viewings are an excellent opportunity for students to have a different view of the jobs actually available in the labour market", says Tomić who believes that this initiative may ultimately reduce youth unemployment rate in Montenegro, currently standing at about 40 per cent.