Skills Development for Employment Programme Consolidation Phase 2019-2022

UNDP Albania

Skills Development for Employment Programme Consolidation Phase 2019-2022


Fully aligned with the National Employment and Skills Strategy 2019-2022, the SD4E Consolidation phase (2019-2022) consolidated the VET and employment policies reform agenda in the areas of legal and institutional framework, built the capacities of the institutions to design and deliver such reformed systems, diversified Active Labour Market Programmes portfolio and further consolidation of the quality assurance and development of the VET system. Capacity building during this phase was understood as an ongoing and continuous process where the skills and abilities of staff are developed and strengthened based on the changing environment. 
Activities and interventions in the frame of SD4E Consolidation Phase 2019-2022 included the following:

  • Advisory support to organizational reshaping, i.e., developing and clarifying strategies, policies, and objectives of the Ministry and the National Agencies about the VET and employment policy reform.
  • Support to improve the regulatory framework in view of the Employment and VET policy reform.
  • Capacity building of institutions and optimizing sharing of responsibilities.
  • Technical expertise to the Ministry and the National Agencies to enhance the effectiveness of their M&E systems and improve policy coordination within the Integrated Policy Management Group on Employment and Skills.
  • Development of a conceptual framework and support in the implementation of reformed employment services and Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMPs).
  • Design, develop and support roll-out of a National Model for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of VET providers. 
  • Technical expertise to facilitate the referencing process of the Albanian Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework for mobility and transparency of qualifications.


In the recent years, Albania has made efforts to undertake structural reforms that aim at equitable growth, raising productivity and competitiveness in the economy, creating more jobs and improving public service delivery. In addition, enablers of growth have been identified, such as regional connectivity and access to regional and global markets, as well market diversification. While these efforts have been challenged by external shocks such as the earthquake of November 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the government remained committed to continue the policy reforms and define the new policy and strategic framework in the relevant sectors until 2030.

The National Employment and Skills Strategy 2022 was developed in the period between 2013 and 2014 and adopted by the end of 2014, including four strategic pillars: 1) decent employment opportunities through active labour market policies; 2) quality vocational education and training for youth and adults; 3) social inclusion and territorial cohesion, and 4) governance of employment and vocational qualifications systems. Following a mid-term review in 2018, the implementation of the Strategy was extended to 2022. 

The EU integration agenda of the country, including EU priorities and policies in Vocational Education and Training have played a significant role in defining the strategic vision and priorities in the Albanian VET system.


The project has produced several crucial outputs, many of which serve as building blocks for the skills development and employment system. As an outstanding project at the policy-making level, the Skills Development Programme (SD4E) has played an indispensable role in building capacities of key national institutions for the implementation of Institutional, legal and policy reform in the sector of employment and skills during 2019-2022. Key results of the SD4E consolidation phase include the following: 

  1. Institutional Transformation and Development: A comprehensive functional review of the Ministry and the National Employment Service guided the transformation process of the former National Employment Service into the National Agency for Employment and Skills. The organizational structure of the responsible Department for Employment and Skills Development Policies within the Ministry of Finance and Economy was also improved.
  2. Consolidation of the legal framework: Integrated support was provided to design and develop necessary secondary legislation to complement the main laws of the sector, namely the Employment Promotion Law no.15/2019 and the VET Law no.15/2017.
  3. Reformed Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMPs): The ALMPs were reformed to better cater to the individual needs of unemployed jobseekers. New and reformed programmes were adopted, including provisions for laid-off workers due to COVID-19 and informal workers impacted by the crisis. Additional typologies of Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMPs) were developed, including an ALMP on tailored basic and basic digital skills offer for long-term unemployed, integrated case management programme for the labour market integration of beneficiaries of cash assistance, and most importantly designing the new DCM on outsourcing training to private training providers. The Self-Employment Programme, a flagship initiative piloted by SD4E, was successfully implemented by NAES. 
  4. A comprehensive VET system review, to map out the current model of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Albania and to generate a common understanding among all stakeholders about the system set-up, the level of the reforms implementation and governance was finalized, identifying the challenges that hamper the system from responding effectively to the skill demand in the labour market. This review was instrumental to design well-informed policy responses to the challenges of the Albanian VET system.
  5. VET Optimization Plan: A plan for the optimization of VET providers was developed based on a multi-dimensional socio-economic, labour market, and assessment analysis of VET providers in different regions and respective of the country. The plan was formally adopted as of June 2022. The SD4E project is committed to support its roll-out in the next period 2024-2025. 
  6. Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive Quality Assurance Framework in VET includes:

    o    The network of some 44 public VET providers, as well as the National Agency for VET and Qualifications (NAVETQ) were supported to implement the self-assessment, a crucial dimension of quality assurance, which in 2021 and 2022 was supported by a dedicated self-assessment online platform 
    o    The model for the accreditation of public and private VET providers in Albania was adopted and commenced implementation, including the roll-out road map and systematic capacity development for NAVETQ and VET providers was developed, adopted, and commenced implementation in 2022, with the accreditation of the first six VET providers.

  7. Development and Implementation of the Albanian Qualifications Framework. The referencing of the Albanian Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) was accomplished with the adoption of the respective report by the EQF Advisory Group as of October 2021. It was a milestone achieved with the direct support of the SD4E programme.
  8. The Labour Market Information Observatory. The work on skills intelligence for evidence-based policy making commenced at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 through regular labour market signals published and shared with the key institutions and donor agencies to monitor and design responses to the dynamics of the labour market. In 2021, the Labour Market Observatory was initiated and developed by SD4E to support the Government of Albania in designing evidence-based policy responses, was acknowledged, taken over by the government, and is integrated in the new NESS 2030, as the main tool for skills intelligence.
  9. Policy coordination through support to the IPMG and policy monitoring in employment and skills. Through its bird-eye-view approach, the SD4E programme directly contributed to the functioning of the Integrated Policy Management Group (IPMG), the highest management and coordination platform in the sector. During 8 regular meetings of the IPMG in a four-year timespan, several milestones of the sector’s reform were discussed and endorsed. Furthermore, the SD4E has been instrumental in achieving the objectives by the EU Sectoral Budget Support mechanism. 

One of the SD4E’s key achievements as a macro-level intervention was the organisation of the National VET Conference 2022 titled "Reforming the Vocational Training and Education System in Albania: Major Milestones, Challenges, and Way Forward." Held in Tirana on April 12th-13th, 2022 this conference represented a joint effort of all the key stakeholders and partners that aimed to take stock of the achievements, challenges, and way forward of the ongoing reform in the skills development sector. 

10.   Annual Monitoring of the National Employment and Skills Strategy 2019-2022. MFE prepared regular annual monitoring reports with the support of the SD4E project, a crucial contribution to consolidate policy implementation and achieve objectives and indicators of two EU budget support programme. Additionally, a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework for all the institutions responsible to implement the employment and VET policies to help the institutions in charge to improve their performance and facilitate monitoring of the sector’s policy implementation.

11.     Youth Engagement for innovative solutions and skills development promotion. The social media engagement platform “R Generation” was designed by young people for young people to boost their participation in VET and R- Generation”. Additionally, a VET students survey conducted through the R-Generation platform, provided a snapshot of the current VET system from the student’s point of view based on primary data, utilizing qualitative and quantitative methods, to capture perceptions on VET attractiveness, VET’s impact on employability levels, career guidance, teaching and learning environment, challenges and needs for improvement. 

12.    National Employment and Skills Strategy 2023 – 2030 was developed in a participatory process, consulted, and adopted as of early 2023. Aligned to the National Strategy for Development and European Integration 2030, NESS 2030 represents a comprehensive policy document for quality jobs and lifelong learning skills for all, outlined in two strategic objectives, specific objectives and priority measures for improved skills development and better demand and supply matching in the labour market, as well as decent employment opportunities through inclusive labour market policies.

Project outcome

  • Outcome 1:     Strengthened institutional capacity of key actors in VET and Employment
  • Outcome 2:     A balanced demand-and-supply oriented employment services portfolio
  • Outcome 3:     A standardized Quality Assurance Framework to improve the image of VET and foster links between education and the world of work.