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M.G. Chitu1, I. Firsa2, A.M. Gherasim2, R. Zagan3, T. Popa4

1Ovidius University of Constanta (ROMANIA)
2Shipyard VARD Tulcea SA (ROMANIA)
3Maritime University of Constanta (ROMANIA)
4Romanian Maritime Training Centre (ROMANIA)
The key issue of higher education is its ability to provide the labor market with qualified and competitive human resources. According to European practices, the main criteria for assessing the performance of higher education are employability rate of graduates in the field of study and satisfaction of employing companies. European Economic and Social Committee, through its directives, permanently appeal to employers to support the principle of partnership and cooperation with universities to reform the higher education and professional training and to develop some strategies for lifelong learning.

Quality of education is a priority in achieving the competitiveness necessary for labor market integration of graduates. Through open, flexible and direct collaboration, universities and employers can ensure commissioning of European instruments, such as ESCO (European Skills, Competences and Occupations), which facilitates an easier insertion into the labor market of young human resources and improving the transition from school to work. Employers believe that universities should provide good conditions for theoretical study and train their students to use theoretical knowledge in practical situations. Universities believe that employers must provide internship and training programs, scholarships and part-time jobs.

The exchange of ideas, best practices and educational strategies must take place in both directions: not only from the university to the industry, but also from employers to educators. University requires feedback from employers to adapt their curricula to the increasingly sophisticated requirements of the economic environment, but in respect with the limits imposed by specific regulations of higher education. Participation of the employers in education and training is an essential component of sustainable development of youth, and its aims is knowledge and understanding of the workplace, ensuring reduced integration time in professional activities.

Influenced by the Black Sea Economic, Faculty of Mechanical, Industrial and Maritime Engineering from Ovidius University of Constanta, include in its educational offer, curricula for competitive engineers required by the shipbuilding and shipping industry. For over a decade, this faculty has an ongoing collaboration agreement with Tulcea Shipyard, now known as Vard Tulcea SA, which facilitates for the students a direct contact with prospective employers.

By its content, the paper aims is to present the beneficial influences of this cooperation agreement on preparing graduates, highlighting its main components: directly practical activities undertaken through internships which is assisted by proficient tutors in the employer; theoretical support to students through private scholarship programs; progress and successful completion of a Sectorial Operational Programme for Human Resources Development; participation in updating and improving academic curriculum with teachers and teams of assessors of the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. Recognized as a best practice, this cooperation agreement has been customized for Maritime University of Constanta, and is anticipated in this case, also as a result, raising the theoretical and practical training to students and facilitating labor market insertion of graduates of marine higher education (electromechanical officers) who are offered the possibility of assimilation in shipyards.