The Regional Challenge Fund is supporting investment projects in the Western Balkan

The Regional Challenge Fund (RCF) is announcing the 1st call for Expression of Interest to support investments in cooperative training projects which is open for applications from the six Western Balkans Economies. The Fund will disburse EUR 18.8m until 2025 (over five years) to support investments in our region. The goal is to fund up to 60 projects during the programme period. The Regional Challenge Fund is organising the launch event for its first call, online on February 3rd , to gather representatives from international organizations and initiatives, regional organizations, public institutions in charge of vocational education and training, chambers of commerce, vocational training providers, enterprises.

Mr Frieder Wöhrmann, Team Leader of Regional Challenge Fund stated the following: “Businesses need skilled employees. And young people need to build the right skills, which can be difficult in today’s challenging environment. The RCF will help bridge this gap by funding investments in the equipment and infrastructure for selected cooperative/dual training projects, that vocational training institutes (VTIs) need to help their students build the skills that today’s companies demand. We are aiming to strengthen the quality and labour market relevance of vocational education and training by promoting partnerships between vocational training institutes and the enterprises.”

Cooperative training involves the business sector throughout the entire process of VET development, implementation and assessment. It does this by combining vocational institution-based and enterprise-based learning in a flexible manner to develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes of future workers. This approach has been proven successful in producing graduates with practical skills that match the demands of the labour market. Cooperative training is recognized by most educational authorities in Western Balkan countries as a useful tool for bridging the gap between educational supply and labour market demand. However, it is still in early-stage development and the Regional Challenge Fund (RCF) has been established to provide such support.

“Participating VTIs partner with companies to develop cooperative training programs that teach students the skills that partner companies need. The result is highly trained employees who are well qualified and ready to work.” Mr Wöhrmann added.

Applications are open to consortia from the six Western Balkan economies consisting of one vocational training institute and at least two enterprises. The effort should result in nationally recognised certificates. The first call for expressions of interest will be open from February 1 to April 30, 2021. All necessary information can be found at

The Regional Challenge Fund is a new program that seeks to increase the productivity and competitiveness of businesses in the Western Balkans 6. The RCF is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to KfW Development Bank and executed by the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6-CIF), a joint initiative of chambers of commerce from the region.

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