Professional education courses in Georgia raise employment

Graduates of the professional education course explore new ways of making Georgian traditional cheese.  (Photo: UNDP/Daro Sulakauri)
Graduates of the professional education course explore new ways of making Georgian traditional cheese. (Photo: UNDP/Daro Sulakauri)

Natia’s  village is located in Pankisi, a mountainous region in north-east Georgia, home for more than 40,000 Chechen refugees since 1990s. High rates of rural poverty and unemployment make this agricultural area one of the poorest in Georgia.

Recently, Natia attended a professional education programme in dairy production at a newly-opened milk processing plant in the region. With her new skills as a certified cheese-maker, she now sees better prospects for her father’s small dairy farm.

“More young people are interested in getting professional education. Their motivation is coming back for the first time in many years as they see more future prospects,” says Omar Makharoblidze, one of the most experienced cheese-making experts in Georgia.

Highlights

  • Georgia is reforming its system of professional education and vocational training to address development concerns, such as poverty and unemployment.
  • By 2011, UNDP had developed professional training in more than 25 professions in 9 centres across the country.
  • More than 3,000 students graduated from the UNDP-supported vocational education courses in 2010 and 2011. Seventy percent of the graduates have landed jobs with local businesses and industries.

The milk processing plant where Natia received her training is part of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, co-funded with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The initiative aims at boosting employment by providing economic and social opportunities for local residents.

UNDP has been active in promoting professional education and vocational training in Georgia since 2006. The organization has helped implement a systemic reform of professional education as well as build a standards-based qualifications and training system that responds to the needs of the local labour market.

By 2011, UNDP had developed professional training programmes in more than 25 professions in 9 centres across the country. With a focus on construction, agriculture and food processing, professional standards and requirements were created for professions in highest demand. All training modules were approved by the national Ministry of Education and Science and provided to 21 professional colleges.

For students like Natia, learning the trade in an actual cheese-making plant provides excellent learning opportunities and practical experience. The plant features the latest technology in food processing while using traditional recipes for famous Georgian cheeses called tushuri and ghuda . Because these cheeses are now being produced in compliance with international food safety standards cheese-making is enjoying a new and vibrant economic life in Georgia.

UNDP’s initiative has led directly to more jobs, higher levels of local agricultural production and speedier recovery for conflict-affected regions in Georgia.

More than 3,000 students graduated from the UNDP-supported vocational education courses in 2010 and 2011. Seventy percent of the graduates have landed jobs with local businesses and industries.