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Basic country data
Total population: 45,372,700
(Last available year: 2013, State Statistics Service of Ukraine)
Young dependency ratio: 20.52 %
(Last available year: 2013, World Bank)

In January 2015, the Ukraine 2020 - Sustainable Development Strategy was adopted by President Decree. It sets important targets, including reform priorities such as decentralization and public administration reform, deregulation and development of entrepreneurship. A key target to be met by 2020 is for Ukraine to join the top 30 countries in the World Bank Doing Business survey. The concept of economic reform policy is focused on ensuring macro-economic stability, energy efficiency and improved governance. In order to respond to the challenges ahead Ukraine is also preparing for in-depth structural reforms to reduce imbalances, improve governance and the business climate.

In 2014, 20% of enterprises considered an inadequately skilled workforce as the main obstacle to business development, according to the Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey of the World Bank. Ukraine is one of the most rapidly aging countries in Europe, which increases the demographic burden on the working cohort. A shortage of skilled workers is anticipated for the near to medium-term future. The major challenges affecting labour market development are low levels of labour mobility, high levels of informal employment, and a mismatch between employees’ occupational skills and the requirements of employers.

In 2014, the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was signed and provides for economic and sectoral cooperation across a number of areas, including energy, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, services, and environmental protection. In March 2015, EU-Ukraine Association Council endorsed the updated Association Agenda to prepare and facilitate the implementation of the Association Agreement. An important element of the agenda is the commitment to support Ukraine in developing its system of vocational education and training to better serve the needs of changing economy, and to ensure the modernisation of VET structures as pursued in the Copenhagen Process. To ensure competitive economy, human capital development is one of the core issues.

VET and employment policy progress since 2012
• The vision of the VET system is part of the national strategy for education development in Ukraine for the period to 2021. It was approved in June 2013. The legal and regulatory framework has been enhanced through the adoption of legislation with a direct impact on the development of the VET system in general and the functioning of VET schools in particular. The framework law “On Education” is in the process of elaboration. Over the longer term, a key priority is the development of a strategic vision for VET to address skills issues and lifelong learning in Ukraine in a holistic way.
• There are positive dynamics as regards the optimisation of the state order  for training skilled workers in VET institutions. In 2012, the “On the Formation and Placement of the state order for Specialists, Academic Staff and Skilled Workers Training, Further Training and Retraining” Act was adopted. This act regulates the formation of the state order, taking into account the medium-term forecast for the demand for specialists and skilled workers in the labour market and the estimated average cost of training a skilled worker. It also sets forth the government financed enrolment.
• With a view to training a competitive workforce, Training and Practical Centres dedicated to the introduction of innovative technologies are being set up with the assistance of social partners. In order to improve the professional development of VET teachers, the Procedure on the Advanced Training of Pedagogical Workers in VET Institutions (Instruction of the MES, 2014) was adopted; and provides for mandatory advanced training for VET teachers at least once every five years at post-graduate education institutions, universities, VET training centres and in VET schools.
• Ukraine is actively engaged in promoting the concept of entrepreneurship. The “On Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development and Support in Ukraine” Act, adopted in 2012, regulates government policies in the field of business activities and the development of entrepreneurial attitudes. The National Programme for Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development was approved to create favourable conditions for SMEs. The strategic guideline for further development of entrepreneurship in Ukraine is the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA).
• Following the adoption of the National Qualification Framework (NQF) in 2011, the process of implementing this framework in the VET system is underway. Methodology for the development of competence-based VET state standards for specific occupations has been adopted. The National Classifier of Ukraine “Classification of Occupations” has been amended to introduce training for new sets of occupations. There is progress in legislating the use of the NQF. The Law on Higher Education (2014) explicitly refers to the NQF and identifies which higher education qualification types will be part of the NQF and there are on-going discussions on new education and labour laws.
• The Federation of Employers has taken the initiative and established the Institute of Professional Qualifications. Under the coordination of the Institute five sector skills councils have so far been established. They include the metal industry, the chemical industry, energy generation, coal mining and agricultural mechanical engineering.  Members of these sector skills councils are big companies. The sector skills council functions as a clearinghouse and forum for discussion, to ensure that occupational standards are shared between the companies. As a rule, big companies using a commonly agreed methodology develop occupational standards voluntarily.

Country priorities for VET and employment reforms
1. The development of an overall strategic vision for VET that will encompass further optimisation of VET provision in the country, including improved finance and governance.
2. Enhance the quality of vocational education and training through improved implementation of the National Qualifications Reform, review qualifications for priority sectors in the economy and systematic introduction of lifelong learning.
3. Develop systems for improved identification and monitoring of skill needs which will help improve the mobility of Ukraine workers and overcome the skills mismatch which is complex and pervasive problem for the economy in Ukraine. 
4. Ensure policy measures to increase the formal employment possibilities of recent graduates.

ETF interventions

• In 2014 and 2015, the ETF supported key stakeholders in improving evidence based policy-making in VET by conducting a self-assessment under the Torino Process, which also included self-assessments in 4 regions of the country (Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Khmelnitsky, Sumy regions and the city of Kiev). This is the third cycle of VET policy self-assessment. The findings confirm the need for renewal of the VET legislation and overall quality improvement including further implementation of NQF.
• The Projecting Reform Impact in VET (PRIME) initiative supports the Ministry of Education and Science, and regional education authorities in exploring policy options for optimising the public VET school network in a context of upcoming decentralization, restructuring and introduction of adequate financing mechanisms. The methodology applied is ex-ante policy impact assessment. The results will be available in October 2015, and they will provide solid scenario for VET reform that incorporate ongoing changes in legislation.
• A skills anticipation and employability project is providing support to the ministry of social policy in the development of a skills anticipation methodology focussing both on quantitative and qualitative methods. By June 2015, an inter-ministerial working group is expected to be established, that will be coordinated and lead by the ministry of social policy.
• A qualifications framework project in continuum is supporting the ministry of education and science, ministry of social policy and federation of employers in the implementation of the NQF law adopted in 2011.

Support to the EU Delegation
In April 2015, the EC Twinning Project “Modernization of legislative standards and principles of Education and Training in line with the EU-Policy in Lifelong Learning”, as two years intervention has been completed. This is the only intervention that in systematic manner addressed VET system. The ETF has been actively supporting the implementation of the project, as well as promoting the inclusion of skills agenda in EU interventions.
In May 2015 EC TAIEX project for preparation of a new Law of Ukraine "On Education", where main beneficiary is Committee of Science and Education of the Parliament of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada) has started. In 2015 in relation to this two EC intervention, the ETF will provide advisory services to the EU Delegation to Ukraine as well as to DG NEAR/TAIEX, providing its in-house expertise and knowledge in governance in education and training, financing of VET, national qualifications framework, lifelong learning polices, etc.

In 2015, as part of the EU's €11 billion package supporting Ukraine, the European Commission has adopted a Special Measure for Private Sector Development and Approximation worth €70 million. This measure is a response to the urgent need to support the recovery and economic development in Ukraine. It will notably help SMEs across the regions of Ukraine, boosting jobs and growth. It will be complemented by a €40 million loan guarantee facility channelled through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) which will also ease access to finance for Ukrainian businesses.

Upon request from the EC and the EU Delegation, the ETF will continue to support the preparation of the new and upcoming EC interventions in the sector, and will ensure contribution in programming of the new EC envelope.

EU projects Period  Budget  ETF role
Modernisation of Legislative Standards and Principles of Education and Training in Line with the EU Policy in Lifelong Learning 2013-15 € 1.5M Policy design, monitoring and evaluation

Key donors in VET
There are no major donors in VET or skills issues in Ukraine.  Support by international organisations and donors is mainly carried out by short-term technical assistance and small-scale projects. The ETF has worked together with the Council of Europe and the British Council in supporting the NQF implementation. This joint donor support on NQF will continue in 2015.  Since the beginning of 2015, there are efforts put in place by the Ministry of Education and Science in cooperation with the Embassy of Czech Republic for establishing a platform for donor cooperation and exchange of information, as a first attempt to support the coordination of donors in sector of education.

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