A national discussion on the "Introduction of Work-Based Learning"

The Erasmus+ MONGWBL project "Introducing work-based learning and increasing the employment of graduates" in the higher education system of Mongolia in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science, Universities, and Business Organizations is being implemented with funding from the European Union. The National Strategy Document – Work based learning in Mongolia /NSD-WBLM/ and Flexible Apprenticeship Model /FAM/ were developed within the framework of this project were presented to the representatives of the HEIs and employers, and a national discussion was successfully organized for the 2nd time with the aim of obtaining opinions and improving the deliverables.

The purpose of this discussion is to outline the direction and roadmap for the implementation of work-based learning and to introduce a Flexible Apprenticeship Model (FAM) and to seek feedback from stakeholders to enhance it. Additionally, representatives from employers who have successfully implemented the FAM and students who have secured jobs through the program will share their learning experiences, answer participants' questions, and provide insights based on their real-world experiences. This interaction promises to be highly beneficial for all participants.

In this discussion, approximately 150 participants attended, including the Head of the Higher Education Policy Management and Regulation Department of the Ministry of Education and Science /MES/, representatives from the European Union Delegation to Mongolia, officials from the MES, university leaders, teachers, students, and representatives from various business organizations. They engaged in productive exchanges of opinions.

This discussion is regarded as a potential solution to the challenges of graduate employment within society and the shortage of skilled labor in the business sector. The participants expressed their willingness to collaborate in addressing these issues and finding suitable preparations for their resolution.

Mr. Tamir Kh., the Head of the Higher Education Policy Management and Regulation Department at the Ministry of Education and Science (MES), actively participated in the discussion. During his address, he emphasized the importance of equipping university graduates with practical skills in addition to theoretical knowledge. He also highlighted the need to enhance policies and regulations that fully prepare students for the labor market. He advocated for a shift away from the traditional internship system and emphasized the importance of increased employer involvement and a more flexible and efficient system. Furthermore, Mr. Tamir Kh. mentioned that representatives from Mongolian universities have been studying "good practices of work-based learning" implemented in European higher education systems. They are taking the initiative to adapt these practices to Mongolia's unique characteristics, yielding tangible results. He expressed his enthusiasm for sharing these outcomes during the discussion and emphasized the pivotal role played by the MES. However, Mr. Tamir Kh. acknowledged that the Ministry alone cannot accomplish this substantial undertaking. Therefore, he stressed the vital importance of cooperation, support, and active participation from employers, universities, enterprises, and companies in achieving these goals.

Mr. Ariunbold J., the Director of the Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation, played a pivotal role as a panelist in the national discussion. He addressed participants' questions and emphasized the importance of aligning graduates' skills with the demands of the labor market. He stressed the need for continuous improvement in the content of work-based learning, which is expected to lead to significant enhancements in the quality of higher education. He expressed gratitude to those actively engaged in this effort, focusing on tangible results and the sharing of valuable experiences. Mr. Ariunbold J. also called upon universities and employers to prepare students according to these standards, highlighting the importance of this endeavor.

Participants in the discussion expressed their consensus on the importance of information shared regarding policies and regulations related to the introduction of work-based learning, the implementation of the Flexible Apprenticeship Model (FAM), and the adoption of good practices from European systems. They recognized the alignment of these efforts with the educational law package and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Furthermore, the universities responsible for project implementation have already begun integrating work-based learning programs into their other curricula. They expressed their commitment to ensuring the stability of these programs and their willingness to collaborate with employers in the future.