How UNDP Has Changed Vahan's Life
June 5, 2023
Let us introduce Vahan from Vanadzor, who is the only breadwinner of his family. Vahan lives with his parents and grandmother who have some health issues. Being a lifelong learner, Vahan was realizing that the mere participation to educational processes was not enough, and there was a need for further literature review in order to have a comprehensive understanding on the subject. Back in 2020 Vahan was earning a very humble salary as a math teacher at “Teach for Armenia” NGO. Like many of his peers, Vahan had an intention to migrate abroad to earn more and sustain his family livelihood needs. He knew that the demand for teacher was high in China, he also had received an offer. At that time, he had to make an important and tough decision, probably the most undesirable one for himself: to leave his homeland and as many people- live as a foreigner and earn money.
In 2020 the UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme served as a turning point in Vahan’s life. As one of the best graduates of the beneficiary college supported by the project, Vahan was invited to take part in the training on solar station installation and maintenance.
“Honestly, I had no idea and had never heard about the applicability of solar systems, I did not even know that there is an opportunity to specialize in the field. Likewise, there were numerous such people in my network. Many young people do not aspire to get education after army separation, since they know that after graduation, they will not be able to find a job in their communities or apply received skills and knowledge in their work. That’s why, many of them want to leave for labor migration.”
Vahan tells that he was participating in classes with a pleasure, inasmuch as the subject was delivered in an accessible and practical format coupled with on-job training during which all the nuances were explained to them. The training sessions were held in Lori Regional State College which has implemented four pilot projects in Aznvadzor, Gargar, Lernavan and Vanadzor communities. Vahan had an active participation in all the pilot projects, particularly regarding solar panel installation and maintenance, always sharing his knowledge and experience-based skills with his teammates.
“The knowledge provided by the project was sufficient, but I always strived for self-education and additional literature review. In addition, I shared my knowledge with my teammates. I liked the installation process, the subject field and I enjoyed taking part in the classes, since in addition to broadening my network with my teammates, I also uncovered a new specialization for me.”
Many people in Vanadzor and adjacent communities had no idea as how the specialization would help them find a job, earn money without thinking about labor migration. Vahan was among the first to find a job in a specialized solar panel company thanks to the knowledge and skills obtained over the course of the project.
His career path proved that the training arranged within the framework of SGP project set a ground for developing proficient and skilled human resources.
“I was onboarded at Shtigen company as an intern, which was also backed by college recommendation. I enjoyed my job and applied in practice all I have learned at the college. The textbook is also very useful for me, as I can refer to it whenever I have certain questions.”
Today, Vahan is among the top employees of Shtigen Company with his coordinating role in Tavush and Lori regions. Thanks to his dedication and aspiration to constantly teach his team, Vahan received recognition by Company management. Currently, Vahan shares his skills and expertise with his team consisting of 10 young people, who previously could not anticipate that it would be possible to sustain their families and overcome social burdens through a specialization gaining incremental demand growth, especially in the regions. Apart from the youth, this specialization garners some interest also among adult men who traditionally used to migrate for labor, but now they get specialized in this field and can work and live with their families being useful to their communities instead of choosing the migration route.
“Each day I learn something new in my work and I work with a pleasure, because I know the importance of our work for the nature protection and improvement of people’s livelihood. Previously, people did not know how to heat their houses, there was no availability of gas, also electricity was not sufficient. Today the number of people wishing to heat their houses through solar energy increases. Me and my team are always ready to assist and educate them to gain optimum benefits without harming the nature.”
Thanks to his patience, Vahan has been recognized by the company leadership for the quality job and high proficiency in the field. Thus, the SGP grant has uncovered a new alternative income source in harmony with the nature for Vahan and many other young people who are able to earn decent and self-sufficient income in their country and with their families.
“If previously I had a clear decision to continue my life teaching in China, now I have no intention to leave my country at all. This is a developing and very interesting field, and I have commitments to be useful for my community and country.”