Advancing Business-University Cooperation Conference June 2, 2014

AmCham’s conference on ”Improving the cooperation between universities and the business community” was part of working toward meeting our strategic objective to encourage the business relevance of higher education programs and increase the number of internships. The event was officially opened with addresses by Ms. Michelle Osmanli, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Macedonia,  Makram Ghribi, member of AmCham’s Board of Directors and H.E. Paul D. Wohlers, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia.

In the first part of the conference, the key note speaker Mr. Richard Norment, American expert on public-private partnerships (PPP),  presented the possibilities for development of joint projects between universities and the business community through PPPs. He began by explaining that increasing cooperation between public and private institutions should not be confused with attempts to privatize public functions, nor purely to increase companies’ philanthropic contributions toward public sector initiatives. It should be about creating real partnership between organizations with different strengths and weaknesses toward achieving a common goal. Mr. Norment led two panel discussions during the event. Panelists on the first panel discussion on internships were:

  1. Dr. Nikica Mojsovska Blazevski, Dean of the School of Business, University American College Skopje
  2. Dr. Andrew Goodspeed, Provost and Pro Rector for Academic Affairs, South East European University
  3. Dr. Biljana Sekulovska Gaber, Vice Dean of Cyril & Methodius University’s Faculty of Economics
  4. Elena Andonoska, President of AIESEC Macedonia
  5. Darko Petrovski, HR Manager, EVN Macedonia
  6. Borco Aleksov, Deputy Head of Department for Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Science

During the discussion, panelists agreed that the Law on Higher Education’s requirement that all university students intern for at least 30 days per academic year is unrealistic and therefore encourages “pro forma” internships and forgeries. Participants also agreed that the practical nature of standard courses is an equally important factor impacting students’ competitiveness when later seeking work. The theme on the second panel discussion was on other models of cooperation, namely the use of case studies in the classrooms, involvement of guest speakers from the business community as well as creation of specialized programs will improve the cooperation and respond to the needs of companies. Participants in the panel discussion were:

  1. Makram Ghribi, Plant Manager, Johnson Controls Macedonia (Bunardzik)
  2. Dr. Dimitar Trajanov, Dean of Saints Cyril & Methodius University’s Faculty of Information Sciences and Computer Engineering (FINKI)
  3. Dr. Mile Stankovski, Dean of Saints Cyril & Methodius University’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering & Information Technologies (FEIT)
  4. Romela Popovik Trajkova, Head of Economic Policy, Structural Regulatory Reforms & Investments in the Cabinet of the Vice Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
  5. Vesna Markovska, President of the Macedonian Board of European Students of Technology (BEST)

”The ability to create a highly qualified workforce that  meets the needs of the business community is one of the key differentiating factors of competitive economies. We saw some innovative and meaningful progress since last year’s event on this topic, including the expansion of cooperation with a number of companies including Okta, Johnson Controls Macedonia and Makedonski Telekom. The topic was also picked up by various public sector representatives, so we are hopeful that things are slowly moving in the right direction,” said Michelle Osmanli, AmCham’s Executive Director in her opening address.

The event was published on the following web portal: Faktor

During his stay Mr. Norment gave interview for Radio Free Europe

Category: Events