Vocational Education and Training- effective approaches to social inclusion
Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth and United Nations Development Programme presented today the results of a two year project on Social Inclusion and Vocational Education and Training funded by Austrian Development Agency and implemented by UNDP and ILO.
Effective coordination on employment and social services across national institutions and between the central and local levels is paramount for the successful implementation of policies and measures. The project touches upon three of the five priority areas of the European Union’s 2020 Agenda - employment, education, and social inclusion & cohesion.
Groups at risk of exclusion from the labor market in Albania include the absolute poor, individuals with no education or with primary education, the unemployed, self-employed or family farm workers in agriculture, the landless or almost landless in the rural areas, vulnerable women, Roma and Egyptian community members and the disabled. Work under this project highlights the need for a paradigm shift from the mapping of vulnerable groups in general to the gender-sensitive analysis of access barriers and identification of drivers of inclusion, followed by the development, costing, and financing of respective social inclusion measures.
Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, present at the event amongs others highlighted: ”The Vocational, Educations and Training (VET) system has to endow workers with the right mix of skills and competences, as addressing - and why not preventing skill shortages – will enable the country to achieve its full growth potential. To fulfil their role, institutions must improve the quality of VET provision, their guidance and counseling services, training facilities, as well as feature a stronger connection with the private sector”
Astrid Wein, Head of Austrian Development Cooperation in Albania highlighted:” Linking social sector and vocational education is very important for the social and economic development of the country. It is also necessary to tailor vocational education courses and training to the needs of the vulnerable groups in Albania.
During the meeting the results of two recent studies namely: The Study on Vulnerable Groups of Being Excluded from the Labor Market, Study on Rural Labor market, were also presented.
Evidence from the three target regions of the project shows that in the region of Elbasan, about 21% and 19% of households in Librazhd and Gramshi districts of the Elbasani Region are in receipt of social assistance - more than the double of the entire Elbasani Region average. Mirdita – in the region of Lezha is the most vulnerable in terms of peoples benefitting social assistance. In the Commune of Ungrei, social assistance is the only income for about 55% of households. 48% of Roma households in the District of Kurbin are beneficiary of social assistance. Again, in the Region of Fier, Roma people represent the most vulnerable group in Lushnja and Fier Districts where about 24% and 17% of their households respectively live on social assistance.
The workshop highlighted the significance of strengthening the evidence base at the local level by collecting; analysing and using disaggregated data of marginalised categories. The availability and use of disaggregated data for analysis, planning, budgeting, outreach, and monitoring is thereby established as one of the prerequisites for social inclusion.
A further element driving social inclusion is the development of inclusive policy responses, as evidenced by the findings of a situational analysis investigating the current participation of People with Disabilities in mainstream VET.
Despite the National Employment Service (NES) considering Roma and disable people as the main disadvantaged categories in job seeking, their participation in the Vocational Training Centres courses appears very limited – 5 percent for Roma, 1 percent for disabled in Albania during the period 2008 – 2011.
Findings of the project show that no Roma or people with disability were enrolled in the Region of Elbasan’s secondary and vocational education schools. In terms of training centres Roma represent about 4.5% of the total number of trainees whereas the access of persons with disabilities trained in VTC is very limited representing only 0.2% of the total number of trainees. In Fier, Roma represented only 0.4 per cent of secondary education enrollment in 2011 and 14.5 percent in the training centers, while persons with disability were 0.1 for the secondary education and none for the vocational schools.
Pronounced territorial inequalities and the urban-rural divide are underlined by the insights of a study on the rural labor market, emphasizing the correlation between equitable access to VET, social inclusion measures, and targeted policy responses that are envisaged to lead to more evenly distributed employment and social cohesion. Districts like Elbasan, Fier, Korce, Tirane, Berat and Diber are among the districts with the largest amount of farm workers in rural areas. Economic activity in rural areas by sex and district shows the limited economic activity of women in rural areas. Women are in disadvantaged position in the rural labor market which limits their economic independence and empowerment. The burden of women in unpaid labor and inactivity due to household responsibilities must be alleviated and increased efforts should be taken as to integrate rural women into the labor market.
Recognizing that disadvantaged groups are not homogeneous, but have rather distinct ought that to be addressed, the project advocates for the tailoring public educational and employment services to address specific needs of vulnerable people. Towards this end, the workshop will present concrete input and recommendations for the new strategies that the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth is currently working on and will also touch upon cross-sectorial implications for the Strategies on Rural Development, Agriculture, and Gender Equality. It will also provide input to the ongoing policy discussion of transferring the VET under the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth – brining it closer to the labor market.
Lessons learned from SIVET, provide comprehensive recommendations for the future, and can contribute to the current efforts of the Government of Albania to redefine its development priorities and targets until 2017.
UNDP Communications Manager