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FEATURE STORY November 28, 2017

Wine in the Classroom: Training the Next Generation of Vintners in FYR Macedonia


Marija Bosheva and her fellow classmates study oenology at a high school in the country’s famous wine region of Tikves. Classes will help students acquire skills needed to help local wine producers remain competitive.

Photos: Tomislav Georgiev

Students in a number of high schools throughout the country are participating in a project that enhances the relevance of their secondary technical vocational education and supports their innovation capacity, so they can more easily find a job outside of the classroom.

Marija Bosheva is a student at the “Gjorce Petrov” Vocational Education Training in Agriculture and Forestry (TVET) High School in Kavadarci, a town of some 38,000 people in Southern Macedonia.

Like many high school students around the world, Marija sits through daily lessons on history, math, biology, and chemistry.

Unlike many of her peers, however, she is also studying oenology - the art of making wine.

The high school has its own vineyards near Kavadarci, where professors and students grow grapes for wine.
Kavadarci is famous for its vineyards and high-quality wines - enjoyed both domestically and internationally. But maintaining this quality is not easy and in order to remain competitive in a region of emerging wine producers, small wineries in Kavadarci must adhere to strict standards that can maintain – or improve – the quality of the wines they produce.

One way to achieve this goal, local vintners have found, is by investing in the skills of young people like Marija - the next generation of wine producers.

"This experience will benefit me in my life, as I can more easily find a job."
Marija Bosheva


Investing in the skills of the next generation of wine producers.

As part of this effort, the TVET High School has a built a new laboratory for oenology and soil science, made possible by a grant from the World Bank-supported Skills Development and Innovations Support Project. The project provides financial incentives to encourage enterprises to work with TVET schools - providing on-the-job training for students.

“The laboratory helps the learning process in our classes and also helps us lean about improvements in science that happen on a daily basis. It is easier to see things in practice than to just have a lesson and write things down,” says Marija.

“This experience will benefit me in my life, as I can more easily find a job.”

As part of this project, the school is cooperating with Pro Grupa DOO Bitola, a private company, and has created a firm at the school called “Agrolab.” Through this company, students in Kavadarci now have access to quality vocational training that allows them to acquire practical knowledge about wine making – from the chemical composition of wine, to the biological processes that go into the practice of making wine.

Ten vocational education schools in the country have received grants for training and equipment under this project.
Students also have access to a soil laboratory, allowing them to analyze samples they have taken. This process benefits the school as well as the region as a whole – improving the organic production of wine, in accordance with European Union (EU) standards.

The lab is not only benefitting students in Kavdarci, but teachers as well, who are finally able to utilize new equipment for their research.

“Agrolab means a lot for our school,” says Natalija V’chkova, a Biology Professor at the Gjorce Petrov TVET. “It facilitates practical learning, allowing students to apply their theoretical knowledge in the real world.”

“And it also enables us to follow the latest trends and technologies in the wine industry and adapt practical skills - making the transition from school to work smoother.”

In addition to improving the skills and knowledge of students, small and medium wineries will also benefit from the laboratory. Instead of using the more expensive testing facilities in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, they can now ask the school to do the testing.   

“The laboratory is completely equipped for testing wine and soil, and is now a place where small and medium sized companies can go to for advice on how to improve and expand their production. Previously, these services were too expensive or simply not available,” says Ljupco Gruevski, Manager at Pro Grupa.

“The project also addresses ecological production, in terms of exporting to the European Union.”

Altogether, 10 TVET schools in the country have received grants for training and equipment.

At the school, students can apply their theoretical knowledge about wine making.
Overall, the Project aims to improve transparency and promote accountability in higher education, enhance the relevance of secondary technical vocational education, and support innovation capacity in FYR Macedonia, so that students like Marija Bosheva are equipped with the skills necessary to find a job outside of the classroom.