Opening speech by UNDP Resident Representative Alessandro Fracassetti at the Launch of “VET for the Future: Development of VET Providers’ Excellence in Azerbaijan” project

Posted February 16, 2021

Dear Minister,

Dear EU Ambassador,

Dear partners and friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you today for the launch of an important project that will help to further modernise vocational education in Azerbaijan.

I would like to begin by thanking our EU partners for their continuous commitment and financial support for improving the quality of education for all.

I would also like to thank the Ministry of Education for its vision and efforts to make young women and men in Azerbaijan better prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

The four-year project we are presenting today will support the Government in modernising vocational education institutions.

With EUR 5,6 million in funding, this project will deliver trainings tailored to the current needs of the modern labour market.

The aims of this project are very much in line with the country’s goal of moving towards a more diversified economic structure, including an efficient and innovative non-oil sector.

Growing new industries while preserving traditional industries is key to the future of a diversified economy.

Today more than ever, the availability of a skilled and competent workforce is critical to achieving this goal.

With the rise of the digital economy, our job market is changing at a rapid pace.

Recent studies have shown that 6 out of 10 jobs in the future will require a vocational training qualification.

Vocational education has a key role to play in future-proofing our emerging industries, especially with youth unemployment rising.

Through this initiative we will develop a sustainable platform to bring all key stakeholders together to change the discourse around vocational education and provide market-driven and future-focused changes in education provision.

Ensuring quality education will prepare Azerbaijani’s youth for the future of work and will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by creating quality learning opportunities for all.

Working together over the last four years we have helped develop 12 new curricula, 54 teaching modules and 10 short courses in areas such as IT and programming, furniture production and fashion design.

In Jalilabad and Ganja, over 460 students have been given hands-on training.

Equipment and infrastructure in VET schools has been modernised.

We have mapped the training needs of 180 teachers and have carried out professional development training, including didactic and pedagogical webinars in teaching and learning for both management and teaching staff.

VET educators from Azerbaijan have also undertaken study tours to Germany and Estonia to learn and exchange best practices with their peers.

We helped establish the country’s regional VET competence centre in Jalilabad, which is fully equipped with a total of 742 new tools, machines and other operational equipment. In Ganja, the project supported the purchase of 3755 new equipment including big operational machines and hand tools.

We have also helped boost the skills and employability of graduates by involving local businesses in textiles, mining and furniture production in the educational process. These private businesses have been providing early internship opportunities for future graduates and offering them jobs immediately upon graduation.

We helped VET centers develop business plans for income generation activities.

In addition to raising public awareness to revamp the image of vocational training, we have introduced new mechanisms for the recognition and validation of informal and non-formal learning. The first new exams were successfully conducted last year.

One of the achievements I am particularly proud of is that the number of women students in VET has increased from 1.82% in the 2018/2019 academic year to 10.6% in the 2019/2020 academic year. I hope and believe this trend will continue.

And in times of COVID-19 we have been quick to adapt the ways the courses have been delivered. VET courses have swiftly moved from primarily face-to-face teaching to TV lessons and digital learning.

Our online programme involved some 150 students, covering topics such as career-planning, personal development plans, job-searching techniques and interview preparation.

100 video lessons have been produced – and are now available online to all people who are interested in gaining new skills.

With this new project over 3,000 students at seven VET centres across the country will directly benefit from the modernisation of their institutions.

I am very happy that our partnership is making these important changes happen and I look forward to seeing more of it in the future.

Thank you.