Encouraging vocational education in the Shirak region of ArmeniaPublished: Dec 13, 2021 Reading time: 4 minutes
On December 10, the final conference for the EU-funded project, “Transition from Education to Employment,” took place. The event showcased the results of the two-year project, highlighting both public and private sectors.
Many representatives and guests from varying educational, business, and international institutions took part in the conference. These included Frank Hess – head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Armenia – Zhanna Andreasyan, Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport (MoESCS), and Sona Yepiskoposyan, an adviser to the country’s Minister of Economy. Other guests included the heads of the technical-vocational education and training (TVET) institutions of the Shirak region and the heads of the National Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development (CNDIPT).
Thanks to the People in Need (PIN) implemented project “Transition from Education to Employment,” a number of complex works have been carried out between 2019 and 2021, promoting a smooth transition from education to employment. Key goals of this project included economic and community development and the preparation of competitive employees. In particular, the project piloted new mechanisms of TVET-private sector partnerships while simultaneously launching long-term and short-term academic programmes on textile and agricultural fields with work-based learning (WBL) schemes. These programs were implemented at Amasia Craftsman State School, Maralik State Crafts College, Artik State College, and Shirak State Agricultural College.
As part of the “Transition from Education to Employment'' project, four long-term and eight short-term academic programmes on textile and agricultural fields are currently available at these four institutions in the Shirak region. Overall, 134 participants are involved in the short-term academic programmes; 10 of them have already received jobs while either have been taking EU-funded paid internships in such organisations as the Amasia Head Cheese factory, Bandivan milk, the Amasia Wool Factory, and the Gloves Factory in Artik and Czech-Arm-Invest Factory.
Frank Hess, the head of the partnership department within the European Union in Armenia, greeted the event participants and said: “I am very pleased to see that the project managed to work very successfully with the communities, private sector, and the schools․ If you look at other countries' vocational education success, there is one lesson to learn: to involve the private sector in all stages. The second lesson is to look not only at the labour market today but also towards tomorrow’s labour market. I am happy to see that the project also tried to provide entrepreneurial skills to the students, because many students might not necessarily try to work in a company but will instead [start] their own company”.
Zhanna Andreasyan, on behalf of MoESCS, thanked those who made the project possible. The deputy minister expressed a willingness to contribute to the process and expand the results of this work. “The TVET sector is of strategic importance and I am sure that the positive progress of the field will significantly contribute to the development of our society and economy. We find it essential to strengthen ties with the TVET-private sector, which promotes the improvement of the capacities of educational institutions.” Andreasyan also emphasised the opportunities of using digital technologies to organise distance learning.
Andreasyan noted that in the near future, the Ministry would come up with a legislative initiative that would make systemic and legal regulations while organising the work of educational institutions. She congratulated the parties, wished them good luck, and expressed hope that project participants would share their experience and knowledge with coworkers.
Varduhi Dadunts, Country Director of PIN Armenia, added: “During these two years, we have worked to achieve long-term success, and I am more than sure that this will be apparent in the upcoming years. We will provide further activity for Shirak TVETs, promoting the availability of qualified employees and an increasing employment rate. We have regularly worked with the beneficiaries at this period and experimented with the peculiarities of productive partnerships within the private sector. We are sure that the invested experience and resources will be highly useful for the benefit of preparing competitive employees and community development”.
The project's main focuses were established based on research concerned with the needs of the labor market, which was carried out at the initial stage of the project. A toolkit for researching labour market needs and conducting productive communication has been created for TVET institutions: the step-by-step guide describes the peculiarities of market research and respective surveys and practical advice. The websites asc.am, acss.am, mcss.am and anaugyumricollege.am have been created for the four beneficiary TVET institutions. An e-course platform has also been developed for a cheese-making academic programme.
An awareness-raising public campaign has been launched by PIN to inform varying demographics on the demands of vocational education. PIN aims to support individuals as they make an informed decision regarding a profession.
During the event, donation memoranda were signed by the beneficiary TVETs. About 40.000 euro was donated for the purchase of equipment. The total budget for the project implementation was the equivalent of 250.000 euro.