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Eastern Partnership


In recent years, the countries of Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) have formalised or started to prepare comprehensive VET sector strategies. A common feature is that the new strategies link to national development strategies, which invariably identify human capital as the country’s key asset, and include improving education and training as a policy priority.

Between 2010 and 2013 Eastern Partnership countries showed solid growth of 3-5% on average. The economic crisis in Eastern Europe and the conflict in Ukraine combined with economic sanctions on Russia, has negatively affected growth rates since then. The profiles of national economies show that low productivity areas continue to be significant in the composition of gross domestic product (GDP). Low added-value trade and agriculture provide employment, while employers in advanced sectors seek high-level skills and recruit young people with high educational attainment.

Participation in the labour market is generally high in the Eastern Partnership, with the exception of the Republic of Moldova. Female rates are slightly lower than the male ones. Since 2012, employment rates have increased in all countries except Azerbaijan. Unemployment is relatively low: the levels are high only in Armenia and Georgia (14-17%). Youth unemployment rates are higher than overall ones and again Armenia and Georgia stand out with around 35%. All countries are characterised by a decrease in the total unemployment rate and new jobs are emerging slowly.

‘Over-qualification’ is a particular issue with more and more university graduates finding jobs below their level of education. At the same time, unemployment among university graduates, in particular for law and economic faculties, is growing. Although participation in education is declining, the population is well-educated and illiteracy is close to zero. The participation of adults in training is low, though adult training opportunities are increasing.

Based on the 2014 Torino Process findings and the 2015 Torino Process Declaration, the key priorities for the modernisation of VET in the countries of Eastern Partnership are:

  • Modernisation of qualifications and qualification systems: All countries have started to design and implement national qualifications frameworks to improve the transparency, trust and relevance of their qualifications. The focus is on implementation methodologies and the institutional infrastructure.
  • Private sector involvement in VET: Policy makers are seeking higher private sector engagement in the design and delivery of vocational education and training. Most countries are establishing sector skills councils to adjust occupational and qualification requirements; they aspire to improved school-business cooperation and more and better work-based learning.
  • Skills anticipation and matching: The countries have developed information on required skills on the labour market unsystematically and aim to introduce a coordinated approach to labour market information. There is a growing interest in skills anticipation to adjust VET programmes, including continuing training, to labour market needs and student demand. Building closer relations between initial and continuing VET remains a target.
  • VET attractiveness: In several countries, VET participation is declining. To make VET a real option for students, the countries emphasise the need to raise quality and improve quality assurance mechanisms and transparency and permeability of the systems.

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