International Business College Mitrovica holds ‘MITROVICA INNOVATIONS 2015: SKILLS, SKILLS, SKILLS’

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The conference took place on 12th June at Hotel Restaurant LUX, Mitrovica South, and on 13th June at the IBCM north campus.

Mitrovica Innovations 2015 – Skills, Skills, Skills discussed potentials and challenges for human resource development as a key challenge and opportunity for economic development with particular focus on agribusiness and agriculture, small and early stage enterprises as well as human resource development in public administration.

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The event brought together regional and international experts, including from Sweden, the UK, the USA and Macedonia, and stakeholders and partners from diverse areas including the private and public sectors, academia and education, international donors and financing institutes. The MITROVICA INNOVATIONS conference provided a platform for innovative thinking and for generating a strong impulse for local and regional networking and for future-oriented policy-making.

The conference held discussions on three leading topics: human resource development in agribusiness, human resource challenges and opportunities for small and early-stage enterprises and human resource development in public administration.

Human Resource Development in Agribusiness

Key points:

  • The gap between skills required by agribusiness and skills available in the labor market
  • How to attract and develop talents to agribusiness
  • British/EU experience in human resource development in agribusiness
  • Attracting and keeping new talent in the agribusiness sector
  • Missing skills in the sector
  • The status of technical education in the sector
  • How to foster innovation in the sector

Recommendations to private sector stakeholders:

  • CSR initiatives from bigger companies to support young talents in agribusiness
  • Increase cooperation with academia, opening internship opportunities
  • Adopt a holistic approach in increasing competitiveness – have the entire value chain involved
  • The private sector needs to cooperate with educational institutions to better align education with their needs.
  • Internships and other forms of early work experience are required to build human resource capacities

Recommendations to public sector stakeholder:

  • Invest in developing advisory services
  • Support female farmers
  • Organize formal meetings with all stakeholders: private sector, academic, donors, to discuss and resolve issues
  • More systematic approach in business development support – not only develop strategies but implement them
  • The agribusiness sector needs to be better aligned with EU best practices in order to be competitive
  • There is a need for a centralized agricultural market in North Mitrovica to connect producers and purchasers. Forms of media can also be used to further this goal.
  • There is a lack of inspectors that poses a legal liability for farmers and needs to be addressed to ensure safety and that best practices are respected.
  • The informal/black market needs to be addressed.

Recommendations to donors:

  • Focus on sustainability of support provided to beneficiaries
  • Have a more participatory approach in designing the support activities involving all beneficiaries and stakeholders
  • While resources have been invested in developing the agribusiness sector, there is a need to make these resources equally available to all municipalities.
  • Stakeholders feel that donors need to listen more carefully to the specific concerns of communities.
  • More transparency and monitoring is required to prevent duplication in the use of funds and to ensure that they are used as intended. Panelists described cases where funds were used incorrectly and also where multiple grants were assigned to the same project.
  • Trainings in the agribusiness area are often to short to have a substantial impact.

Recommendation to academia

  • Include and strengthen the importance of internships in the academic programs
  • Increase cooperation with business
  • Adjust timetables to ease the cooperation with business
  • Schools can help the sector by imparting an element of “cool factor.” Currently agriculture is seen as a last resort, which is attitude that can be shaped in a new direction through education.
  • Better facilities are needed, such as fields for hands-on work and even residences for students who often need to travel long distances to study in the agriculture field.

Project and other ideas and recommendations

  • Embryo programs (to try and test ideas), followed by:
  • Business incubators (to support and develop)
  • Talent challenge – programs supported by municipalities to support young talents in agribusiness

Human resource challenges and opportunities for small and early stage enterprises

Key topics

  • Apart from all other HR functions special focus to be put on the strategic function of the HR
  •  HR functions for small and early stage enterprises should be outsourced
  •  HR Eco system should be created and developed to foster the development
  • Proactive organizational culture should be developed “by doing (skills), not only thinking (theory)”
  • Assessment and selection of employees is critical to the success
  •  Putting the right people at the right positions is also very important for the development of SMEs
  • The attracting of talent
  • The defining and standardizing of HR procedures
  • The situation of new hires
  • The situation of women in entrepreneurship and human resources development
  • The changing of mentality

Recommendations – for small and early stage enterprises:

  • Develop customer base before developing clear organizational structure to be fully operational
  • Enable sharing of complementary skills sets (for employees) and invest in their further professional development
  • Outsource and in-source the HR functions with assessment of proper parameters: costs vs. benefits
  • Grow the company by growing the HR functions

Recommendations for the donors:

  • There is a need to work directly with women entrepreneurs in the field and ease the flow and access of information needed for successfully developing their businesses.
  • Attention should be given to the specific educational and training needs of women.
  • Activities aimed at supporting entrepreneurship should keep in mind the importance of attitude and ambition in addition to developing practical skills.
  • It is important to seek means of connecting growing enterprises with the international market within ten years of their establishment to ensure that they can continue to grow.

Recommendations for the educational institution:

  • Educational institutions should seek ways to shift the mentality towards entrepreneurial activities and the private sector. Currently common attitudes characterize entrepreneurship and the private sector as self-interested and less competitive in terms of employment conditions. This attitude can impede growth in entrepreneurial development.
  • Educational institutions play a role in improving the education level and professional opportunities of women. As a result, they should seek to understand and respond to their particular educational and training needs.

Recommendations for the private sector:

  • Companies should work to standardize HR procedures in keeping with best practices in the field.
  • In conjunction with the above mentioned standards, companies should develop and implement a methodical step-by-step approach to hiring, orientation, and staff development.
  • There is a need to recognize women as a source of economic power and better integrate them into the workforce.
  • Leaders in new and small-sized enterprises to seek to establish a shared vision among all staff with regards to the direction and future of the company.

Recommendations for the public sector:

  • The development and dissemination of national standards in human resources would help the private sector standardize HR procedures and conform to best practices.

Human Resource Development in Agribusiness

Key topics

  • The strategy for local development
  • Gaps in the labor market relative to competencies needed
  • Challenges to pubic administration in Kosovo
  • Development programs offered by the public sector
  • English language learning provision for public sector staff

Recommendations

  • Training of civil servants (continuous training on professional skills), support from central institutions and international partners is needed to continue the professional development of public administration employees in the region
  • Monitoring of the best practices of the organisation of Public Administration in regional countries and also EU Member States;
  • Usage of electronic-administration (e-administration) in the services that are delivered by public administration;
  • Active communication and openness towards the public;

A wide ranging approach is needed in order to get the most out of people and workers. This relates to skills, capabilities, and behaviour, but also instilling values in the public sector work environment including: respect for diversity, integrity, and professionalism. These are important soft areas that need to be instilled in students.

Specific skill sets that are valuable include being able to work in teams and managing your own individual tasks; communication and presentation skills, and the need to be adaptable to the work environment.

The challenge is that highly skilled workers will leave an unrewarding work environment to seek chances for better salaries abroad, or to work for international organisations for a higher salary.

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 The International Business College Mitrovica (IBCM) in Kosovo is an internationally registered not-for-profit educational foundation. IBCM offers internationally accredited bachelor degrees. IBCM is a multi-ethnic organization with campuses on both sides of the River Ibar in Mitrovica. All programmes at IBCM are taught in English. Since its establishment in 2010, IBCM has achieved a success record and reputation for providing high-quality international education at an affordable rate for students from all nationalities of the Republic of Kosovo and neighbouring countries. IBCM is providing substantial support to Kosovo minority groups. IBCM graduates achieve a professional employment rate of 75%.

 IBCM International Business College Mitrovica has been supported by the Government of Kosovo as well as by a group of international donor countries, including Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Denmark. Since 2014, the European Commission is also providing support to the college.

IBCM

IBCM