Georgia: Vocational training equips youth for careers

young woman at sewing class
Nino Narmania gains practical experience in garment making. Photo: UNDP/Daro Sulakauri

Georgia is strengthening its system of professional education, ensuring that thousands of young people are equipped with the knowledge and experience to compete in the labour market.

 

Nino Narmania is one of thousands who has reaped the benefits. Last year, this 19-year-old learned she needed computer skills to pursue her goal of sewing and making clothes. She enrolled in a college-level professional tailoring programme in Poti, a provincial town in western Georgia.

 

"I am learning how to work in Photoshop and Corel, and how to use modern sewing machines," Narmania says. "We have university professors to teach us computer technology and there are online classes from a professional college in Germany," she said.

 

In 2006, with funds from the European Union, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, and the Governments of Norway and Romania, UNDP began collaborating with the Ministry of Education to reform Georgia’s system of professional education.

As a result, nine education centres across the country are now providing enhanced training, preparing people for work in 25 professions. Participating colleges are now better aligned to the demands of the local labour market, teachers have received critical retraining, and vocational training sites have been refurbished.

Of the 3,000 graduates, 70 percent have found employment.

image
A student trains to be a carpenter at a professional college in Zugdidi. Photo: UNDP/David Khizanishvili

A focus on internally displaced persons (IDPs)

After the outbreak of a military conflict in 2008, UNDP began directing these efforts at conflict-affected areas, where professional education would help people return to self-reliance, especially those experiencing disruptions in education and careers due to displacement.

One of the first initiatives took place at Gori University in Shida Kartli, the region most affected by war. Now recognized as one of the best-equipped professional education sites in the country, it offers a full range of vocational courses.

On-the-job training includes workshops devoted to the production of agricultural products, such as traditional Georgian cheeses and canned fruit and vegetables, some of which sell in the largest supermarkets of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. The workshops allow students to begin work while learning new skills.

By the end of 2011, as part of its support to Samegrelo, a region in western Georgia that hosts around 80,000 displaced persons, UNDP had helped professional colleges in Poti and Zugdidi establish their own curricula.

About 1,500 students – half of them IDPs – can enrol in the courses each year. The colleges have opened furniture-making and tailoring workshops based on the model in Gori.

(Story first published on 5 Feb 2013 on the UNDP Europe and Central Asia website)

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