Aging populations, high mobility, relatively high employment rates, emerging job creation and high educational attainment characterise the countries of the Eastern Partnership region. Population growth is weak or negative in all countries except for Azerbaijan and dependency rates are growing, meaning there is an increasing proportion of people under 15 and above 64, compared to the working-age population.
Investments in vocational education and training (VET) in the region are starting to pay off. In Moldova for example, for the first time in years more students have been enrolled in VET than in higher education. There is progress in the design of national qualifications frameworks and the development of occupational standards and qualifications, with increasing focus on better implementation and broader stakeholder engagement. Work-based learning is on the increase, with some countries running pilot schemes. The high mobility of people in the region has also brought the formal, non-formal and informal mechanisms of recognition of skills and qualifications into focus.
Policy makers in all the Eastern Partnership countries are seeking, via the establishment of sector skills councils, a higher engagement of the private sector in the design and delivery of VET. Skills anticipation and matching is also a target, which means ensuring that training is adjusted to the needs of the labour market.
The ETF continues to work with the Eastern Partnership countries through both regional operations and country-specific activities to support these initiatives, focusing on the above challenges and relying on more substantial EU support to boost the quality of vocational schools, equipment and delivery.