Since 2014 we have been supporting Georgia 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 ETF is enabling policy change in Georgia by providing recognised and reliable EU/International expertise. We engage in policy dialogue with the government, assisting with the drafting of new laws regarding vocational education and training. We are supporting Georgia in revising and updating its qualifications framework and advising key stakeholders on how the implementation of concept and strategic plans can become more effective. The Georgian economy is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises and we are also working with government agencies to strengthen their capacity in policy implementation and methodologies for entrepreneurial learning and SME skills.
After the severe crisis of 2008 and the recession in Russia which lowered exports and reduced remittances, the Georgian government set about improving the business environment for all enterprises (including SMEs). Administrative regulations have been simplified and the tax burden reduced. There have also been efforts to fight corruption, facilitate free trade and promote privatisation. The government is also seeking to boost tourism – one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Georgia. This sector accounted for 23.5% GDP and 20.1% of total direct and indirect employment in 2015 and 36.4% of total export earnings.
Georgia’s population has decreased by almost 15 % since 2002. A third of the population lives in Tbilisi and agriculture continues to be the largest source of employment. Over half of the working population are self-employed with the youth unemployment rate higher than the overall unemployment rate. Those with a vocational education and training background are more likely to be unemployed; there is a lack of work-based practical experience and often people are over-qualified for the job. One third of young people in Georgia neither work nor study and overall women constitute 61% of all ‘NEETS’ aged 15-29.
Education and labour policies
In order to grow its per capita GDP and address the main priorities and issues in the Georgian economy and society, the government has been implementing the Social-economic Development Strategy of Georgia “Georgia 2020”. Education and vocational education and training in particular are among the priorities. One of its goals is to strengthen public provision of vocational education and training and increase enrolment to 10% by 2020. A new Employment and Labour Policy Department has been created, focusing on a number of resolutions, including the development of a lifelong vocational counselling and career planning service and a labour market informational system.
EU support and the ETF
The EU and Georgia signed an Association Agreement on June 27 2014, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA). This strengthens political and economic ties with the EU and aims to achieve Georgia’s gradual economic integration into the EU internal market.
The priority of the ETF mid-term intervention strategy 2017-20 is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the EU interventions in employment and VET. This is through the provision of expert support and advice to the EU Delegation, EC Headquarters and Georgian partners, to maximize EU support in reforming VET and the employment/labour market in Georgia.