The European Training Foundation (ETF) assessment provides an external, forward-looking analysis of a country's human capital issues and vocational education and training (VET) policies from a lifelong learning perspective. It is based on evidence provided in the Armenian National Torino Process Report compiled in 2019 using a standardised questionnaire called the National Reporting Framework (NRF) and additional information sources, where relevant.
The assessment process included an extensive phase of desk research based on responses to the NRF and the preparation of a paper about the major issues that included an overview of the themes to be discussed in the present report. It was finalised in consultation with the country and thematic teams that are responsible for Armenia at ETF.
The National Development Strategy for Armenia for 2014-2025 views education 'as one of the preconditions for sustainable development for the country'. In this context, vocational education is recognised as a small but important contributor Armenia Development Strategy 2014-2025, page 106
In Armenia, VET initiatives concentrate primarily on initial VET (IVET). IVET is divided into two levels: preliminary (craftsmanship) and middle vocational education. Both offer vocational qualifications, which help open access to the labour market. Individuals can also pursue a secondary general diploma, called a Matura.
Armenia faces significant human capital development challenges – including a high rate of labour market inactivity (39.1%), high unemployment (17.8%), particularly in urban areas, a large informal sector and substantial differences between regions and population groups. Notably, young people and women are underrepresented in the labour market. These challenges limit the development and use of human capital, leading to both constraints and extra costs. The country spends relatively little on education (2.8% of GDP) and employment programmes (0.1% state expenditure).
VET programs suffer from a perceived disadvantage because higher education seems to offer students better returns. The employment rate for higher education graduates is 60.5%, compared to 51.1% for VET graduates ETE KIESE Indicators, 2019
. Higher education graduates tend to obtain better jobs: 72.6% hold high-skilled jobs compared to 30% of VET graduates, and they earn 27% more on average Labour Market in the Republic of Armenia, 2013-2017 Statistical Handbook, Income, Table 5.4
. This would seem to make higher education more attractive to students; however, at the same time, a greater focus on higher education could lead to more mismatches in the labour market.