Since 1996 we have been supporting Armenia to develop education and training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.
The government of Armenia is strongly focused on updating its economic and development strategy to increase sustainable GDP growth and is determined to tackle corruption and improve competition. Economic reforms are strongly linked to the education and labour market reforms and ETF is currently supporting the Armenian government in its finalisation of a new strategy for vocational education and training. Key priorities of this strategy are the implementation of a new system of work-based learning through partnerships between employers and VET institutions.
Political context and priorities
There are ambitious plans in Armenia to reduce poverty and increase employment, with government reforms including a range of labour market objectives: employment growth, improvements in job quality and wage levels and reductions in structural unemployment. Key priorities are reducing poverty by 12 percentage points and increasing nominal minimum salaries by 25% by 2022. The government plans to review the current education system at all levels with a particular focus on knowledge and skills for the future. Between 2017 and 2022, in order to optimise VET institutions, primary vocational education institutions are to be consolidated and the management and cost-efficiency of VET institutions improved.
Armenia has been particularly vulnerable to the economic situation in Russia, with falls in copper prices and decreased remittances from Russia adversely affecting its economy. The country is now benefiting from Russia’s recent economic growth and is quickly transforming into a service economy. According to the IMF (2017) Armenia has made strides in enhancing macroeconomic stability though tough challenges remain: growth continues to be volatile and narrowly based, trade opportunities remain limited, and public debt has increased sharply. Following important reforms in the energy sector and the tax code, the government is determined to tackle corruption, improve competition, and promote sustainable growth.
Education and labour policies
A network of regional vocational education and training colleges will develop partnerships with VET schools and employers in each of the 12 regions of Armenia, strengthening the provision and quality of work-based learning. New partnerships will facilitate the involvement of business in the design and delivery of VET to improve the relevance of education and training to labour market needs. Beyond this, the Ministry of Education will focus on National Qualifications Frameworks in 2018-19, specifically EQF level 5 qualifications. The development of this qualification in the context of the Qualification Framework for Armenia would accelerate reforms across education and training and strengthen the transition pathways for youth.
EU support and the ETF
The new sector reform contract under the EU budget support programme for 2017-20 aims to improve labour market intermediation and guidance services in order to ensure better access to employment. A Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the European Union was unanimously ratified by the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia on 11 April 2018.
ETF is developing an Action Plan for the further development and implementation of Work Based Learning for 2018-2020. A working group will meet in 2018, drawing on developments and trends in work based learning including the work of relevant donors. ETF’s role is also:
- Advising the development of a national career guidance policy
- Supporting the European Commission’s bilateral policy dialogue
- Supporting the EU Delegation in Yerevan in finalising the proposed budget support for vocational education (2017-2020)
- Mapping work-based learning policies and practice through a Skills Connexion project to inform future policy direction
- Coordinating Small Business Act assessment and reporting of entrepreneurial learning and skills for business
- Supporting the EU-Armenian Mobility Partnership in the area of skills identification and anticipation.